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On her way into the ceremony in Los Angeles, Meryl - who was also nominated in the category for her performance in Julie And Julia - stopped to speak to the E! red carpet host.
"I was watching you earlier," Meryl said with mock gravity.
The actress chastised the American Idol presenter for "cheerleading a little," but added: "That's all right."
Ryan, a little stricken, responded: "I knew you were going to come and you were going to crush me."
But Meryl gave in, saying in reference to eventual winner Sandra: "I'm in love with her, as is everyone in America. I kind of have been pulling for all the young gals."
Meryl's nomination was her 16th. She won for Kramer Vs Kramer in 1980 and Sophie's Choice in 1983.