You hear so much about how important the actors can be to a movie, but so rarely do you see one of them really transform a project. Meryl Streep's performance in The Devil Wears Prada is one of those rare performances around which an entire movie is built. It's no big surprise; Streep is first of all actors, ahead of the likes of Katherine Hepburn, Jack Nicholson, Laurence Olivier, Bette Davis, Spencer Tracy and Ingrid Bergman, with 13 Academy Award nominations under her belt, and I have no doubt that this movie will build her record.
While her timing is incredible, the glances of her eyes startling, it is the humanity Streep brings to "the dragon lady" that is so fascinating to watch. She allows just a glimmer of Miranda Priestley's vulnerability in several scenes, leading up to the character's final reckoning over the course of the final 30 minutes.
On the flip side, Anne Hathaway brings absolutely nothing to the main character, Andrea/Emily/Andi. I'm getting so tired of these young actresses walking through roles (Natalie Portman in Star Wars; Kate Bosworth in Superman Returns; Hathaway here). I'd much rather watch a much less pretty and much older actress actually earn her money in some of these roles. Hathaway brought no arc to her character whatsoever; it was so bad that the ending seemed out-of-place and misguided. I actually got angry at the ending, which I should have fallen in love with (I'm a sucker for redemption stories).
Still, Hathaway can't undermine the wonderful performances poured in by virtually everyone else in the cast, highlighted by Streep and Stanley Tucci.
FINAL ANALYSIS: If Hathaway had brought anything to the lead role, this could have been a 10; but the other performances are so strong, the movie still shines. 9 out of 10.