10 Best Amy Adams Roles
Somehow, for some inexplicable reason, Amy Adams has not yet won an Academy Award. She has a couple of Golden Globes, sure, and she’s gotten plenty of Oscar nominations — but the glaring omission on her stellar resumé is the highest form of recognition for her incredible talent as an actress: an Academy Award for Best Performance by an Actress, leading role or otherwise. Over the course of more than 50 projects across film and television, Amy Adams has delivered some of the best performances in the game. Most actors are lucky if they have five or so memorable roles. Amy Adams has at least two or three times that, and that’s being modest. We’ve outlined her ten best performances here, but don’t be fooled: there are even more where these came from.
Airing on HBO in the summer of 2018 and coming from the minds behind such hits as Gone Girl and Big Little Lies, Sharp Objects stars Amy Adams and Patricia Clarkson as a dysfunctional mother-daughter pairing. The former, a journalist, has returned to her hometown to cover a violent murder. The latter, a hypochondriac responsible for much of Adams’s character’s trauma, causes plenty of painful memories. It’s Adams’s strongest (and darkest) performance so far.
Following his grown-up adaptation of the hit children’s book Where the Wild Things Are, Spike Jonze took on an original project that would be his first solo venture into both writing and directing a feature film. Titled Her, the film sees Joaquin Phoenix as a man who falls in love with an AI and Amy Adams as his closest friend. It’s a love story for modern times, and Adams has really never been more compelling.
There’s no doubt Adams has worked with some of the best filmmakers in the game — The Master, from writer and director Paul Thomas Anderson, has the actress playing one half of a deranged-yet-charismatic couple in charge of a cult cause The Cause. Acting opposite Philip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix, Adams knocks it out of the park.
Her first time acting with both Philip Seymour Hoffman and Meryl Streep (who she’d go on to costar in Nora Ephron’s Julie & Julia with), Doubt has Adams playing Sister James: a devout Catholic nun who finds herself stuck in the middle of a controversy between the Catholic school principal and a new priest, whose relationship with a young boy has the entire administration on edge. Adams shines in leading roles, but she’s no less great in supporting ones, either.
Writer and director Tom Ford is most known for being a designer — naturally, his films feature exquisite set design and costumes paired with seedy and tantalizing plots. Nocturnal Animals, his second feature, sees Adams haunted by the manuscript of her ex — he seems to have drawn from their trauma as a couple, leading her character to go to the edge of insanity trying to get to the end of the book.
One of many instances where Adams earned herself an Oscar nomination, Arrival is Denis Villeneuve’s 2016 sci-fi drama about a linguist who must translate the messages of an invading alien race. It’s a low-key science fiction film, unconventional in its own unique way, and Adams couldn’t be better. She’s really the best part of the feature.
Christian Bale and Mark Wahlberg get plenty of recognition as actors, but their costar in The Fighter, Amy Adams, deserves to join their ranks. David O. Russell is a questionable filmmaker, but one of the best decisions he ever made was putting Adams in his 2010 boxing drama. The movie has its problems, but Adams certainly doesn’t.
Don’t dismiss Adams in The Muppets — just because it’s geared towards children doesn’t mean that adults can’t get something out of this movie. Jason Segel is as gleeful as can be here, and Adams keeps up with his humorous script perfectly. So much so, in fact, that the movie’s sequel is seriously lacking because of her absence from it.
Drop Dead Gorgeous
Her earliest role, back when she was doing more comedies (she’s in Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, remember?), Amy Adams gets the debut she deserves in Drop Dead Gorgeous. Initially panned but eventually considered to be a cult classic, the film follows a deadly beauty pageant in a small town. Adams leaves a lasting impression, managing to build a career off of her performance in this darkly comedic satire.
Reworking all the quirks and charms of Disney princesses to become the Mary Poppins of the 2000s, Enchanted sees Amy Adams as one of the studio’s earliest live-action princesses. She plays Giselle, an animated woman who falls into modern-day New York, transforming from a cartoon to a real person. It’s ingenious, and Adams is the definition of charming here.
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