A morose writer (Sam Shepherd) living with his cancer ridden, pill addled, vigorous wife (Meryl Streep) leaves her in the care of a Native American aide (Misty Upham), drives to his favorite fishing hole, and drowns himself in the river. As the family (whose members include Chris Cooper, Margo Martindale, Julia Roberts, Ewan McGregor, Juliette Lewis, Dermot Mulrooney, Julianne Nicholson, and Benedict Cumberbatch) gathers for the funeral, barely healed wounds are opened and new ones are created when they quickly sink their claws into one another. The worst part about August, Osage County, written by Tracy Letts from his play, is its promotional campaign whose ads lead you to believe this is another touchy feely dysfunctional family film with an all-star cast swinging for the awards season fences. While elements of the story are alternately cliche, exaggerated, or stagy, much of the acting is over the top, and the material isn't as outlandish as the author's other screenplays (Bug, Killer Joe), Letts' film doesn't pull back and nails many of the family dynamics right on the head while getting a lot of the little things right. Streep is a whirlwind in a showy, commanding performance and any of the other actor's who try to match her, including fellow Oscar nominee Roberts, fail miserably. The movie also features a strong, heartfelt performance from Cooper, who I'm surprised was completely overlooked during awards season, and Martindale, a familiar face (if not name) was also excellent, which was so nice to see having not much cared for her work in the past. I also was drawn to Nicholson, another actress who has been around awhile but is not well known, who delivers a sympathetic, moving performance.