Saturday, August 20, 2016

Ranking Amy Adams' 5 Oscar Nominated Roles

Amy Adams in Arrival
Today marks actress Amy Adams' 42nd birthday. Over the course of an impressive career, she has played everything from Disney princess to the wife of a cult leader. To say the least, her range is endless, and she continues to produce quality work on an almost annual basis. With the potential for a sixth nomination this fall with director Denis Villeneuve's alien invasion movie Arrival, there's no better time to be an Adams fan. While we wait for her next film to win us over, the following is a ranking of her current five Oscar nominations, of which shows off her charisma as well as argues the case as to why she doesn't have an Oscar yet. She more than deserves one.

1. The Master (2012)

Director Paul Thomas Anderson's ode to cults is itself a powerful and tough film to watch due to its hypnotic, ambiguous power. If that's not difficult enough, imagine having to act opposite heavyweights Philip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix in what is arguably each of their best performances. Yet Amy Adams plays Hoffman's wife with such a nuanced focus that it becomes unnerving. Is she the real brainchild to the operation? It isn't clear, but her stare quickly goes from being off putting to something more unsettling. She gives the type of performance that may seem sweet on the surface, but could be very deadly underneath. It may not be the showiest of the three Oscar-nominated roles, but it still is a very memorable turn.

2. The Fighter (2010)

It is easy to get distracted by Christian Bale's Oscar-winning performance, or that this marked director David O. Russell's comeback film. However, it was a powerhouse of a film that showed his ability to craft a cast perfectly from Mark Wahlberg's great protagonist to Melissa Leo's sniveling bad mother role. Still, there's Adams at the center of everything as Wahlberg's girlfriend; whose tough skin makes her the perfect significant other for a dysfunctional family who bets too much on "The Pride of Lowell" being their shining light. Adams has never been feistier or more exciting as she is here. It's more than just a great sports drama. It's a reflection of what powerful cinema can be in the right hands.

3. Doubt (2008)

If nothing else, Adams knows how to pick great ensemble movies that use her well. Starring opposite Philip Seymour Hoffman, Meryl Streep, and Viola Davis; she stars as a history-teaching nun who becomes conflicted when a priest (Hoffman) gets accused of having inappropriate relations with a student. It's a cleverly directed morality tale that never gives a clear answer, choosing to question faith and what good intentions will get you. As a whole, Doubt is a powerhouse of acting that shows Adams portraying a conflicted nun that believes in the good of the world. It's a great role that proved just how engaging she could be in the decade to follow. Most of all, she held her own against Streep - which is far from an easy task.

4. Junebug (2005)

Adams has had two breakouts in her career: once with the critics, and once with audiences. While most would likely recognize Enchanted as her big break, Junebug marks her first Oscar nomination for playing a Midwest pregnant woman whose innocence and purity are an endearing force about her. In a film that is mostly about the idiosyncrasies that make the country life so appealing, it's Adams performance that gives the film any legacy. From her rich accent to her heartbreaking third act, she gives a performance that suggested that she was more than a background actress on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and The West Wing. She was someone with a career ahead of her. 11 years later, that's still more than true.

5. American Hustle (2013)

Rounding out the list is the second collaboration that she has done with David O. Russell. Combining the big names from The Fighter and Silver Linings Playbook, the film revolves around a series of con artists who get in way over their head. While it has been accused of being "Scorsese-lite," the film is pretty enjoyable for what it is and delivers one of the greatest hit and miss films of the decade (did Jennifer Lawrence really need to be in this?). Still, Adams gives a great performance among a strong cast and a loose script. It may be far from her best, but it definitely offers some of her sexiest and most alluring outfits in her entire career. 

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