I happen to agree with you on this one, Martha (as my comment on the question also clearly states).
Slightly rephrased, the question basically says:
- There is this phrase I cannot for the life of me recall.
- The meaning of the phrase is something like the ultimate compliment you can give to someone like an actor.
- One particular place I recall hearing this was when Meryl Streep was being introduced at some award show or other (perhaps the Oscars?); the person introducing her said something along the lines of “Meryl Streep is a real [X]”.
- It was something structurally/semantically similar to “living legend”, “crown jewel”, “cherished rare commodity”, etc., but it’s none of those.
Others here have said that the question as it stands is a guessing game, and that’s reason enough to close-vote as being too broad.
If you ask me, almost every single SWR on the site is a guessing game. That is the very nature of SWRs. The only exception would be things like “What do you call this little plastic doodad that I have a picture of here but don’t know a word for?”, and even there, there tends to be differing answers depending on dialect and location—which makes it, once again, a guessing game.
This question is, in fact, much less of a guessing game than most other SWRs because there was so much data and detail to work from.
There are plenty of other questions here that arise from someone being unable to recall a specific word, and then describing what it means and how it can be used—exactly like this question—and I have never, that I can recall, seen any of them closevoted as being too broad.
It is possible to give authoritative, well-researched answers to this question; if the asker finds one of these answers superior to the others (in this case: if the answer has the word the asker could not recall), that answer will be accepted as the correct one. That doesn’t mean the other answers are worthless, nor that they are not helpful to anyone else:
- The other four answers given on this question have all received upvotes, and the accepted answer is the only one to have received any downvotes.
- Even if no one in the future will ever be specifically looking for this particular phrase used once to describe Meryl Streep, we still have an answer here that gives a good choice of words you can use to bestow upon someone (particularly an actor) an immense compliment, which is definitely useful to future users and not too narrow or limited in scope at all.
We should keep in mind that being useful to the asker and being useful to future visitors are two quite separate things. That is why it’s not relevant that questions are guessing games in the way this one is. Only one answer is ‘correct’, in the sense that it is the one the asker was looking for; but any good answer can be correct in the broader sense that it will be useful to anyone looking for a word that fits the situation, though perhaps not the specific context and details. The asker’s needs do not necessarily equal future visitors’ needs.
Though the wording of the question itself could perhaps be improved upon to better reflect this, I simply cannot fathom how the question can in any way be perceived as lacking research, opinion-based, unclear, or anything else that is off-topic here. At all.
In a comment to this question, KitFox writes:
Specific enough that the answer can be found by checking the transcripts of Oscar ceremonies.
Two points here:
- The asker said it was probably an Oscars ceremony. It may well have been something else—an Emmy awards ceremony, a charity event, etc.
- Trawling through god-only-knows how many years of Oscars ceremony transcripts1 goes far above and beyond what I would ever consider reasonable research efforts on ELU. If that level of research were expected of askers, we might as well shut down the site, because no question would be on topic.
1 According to this answer on Movies.SE, it might not even be possible, short of obtaining video or audio recordings of all the ceremonies to do so. Note that the Oscars transcript database contains only speeches, not introductions, and would not be useful here.