Amy Adams: Five Films for Newcomers


We can comfortably say that there is a generation of cinephiles that have just assumed acting powerhouse Amy Adams was always around. A generation before was wondering where this star came from, as her entrance seemed to be from out of the blue. Adams has indeed experienced one interesting career: from surprise newcomer to industry mainstay. With six Academy Award nominations and unfortunately no wins, her impact is more than apparent (especially since a big case can be made for each of her nominations). What makes her everyone's favourite performer is her down-to-earth neighbourly personality that never disappeared: not when she made it big, and not when she became an industry staple. Still, there may be some of you that are new to her work. In that case, here are five films for newcomers to the works of Amy Adams.


5. Catch Me if you Can
This was Adams' first big break, as the slight crack in conman Frank Abagnale's armour. As love interest Brenda, you see glimpses of Abagnale seeing a morally just life for himself. Unfortunately, crimes have to be paid for, and her beacon of light turns into Abagnale's comeuppance: a better life unattainable due to sin.


4. Junebug
This performance naturally earned Adams her first Academy Award nomination, and for good reason. We knew she could be charming due to previous work, but we could see signs of her dramatic chops in this indie gem. Stuck in a troubled marriage with a baby in the way, you can see Adams balance moods with ease. Thus, her best years began (and have yet to let up).


3. The Master
Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman rightfully get their dues to this day for this film, but I find Amy Adams to be criminally underrated as the wife of a cult leader. This is one of the finer subtle performances in a long time, and it's because Adams knows how to feel real. She seems beyond brainwashed by her husband, because she is no longer fawning after him like his church. She teaches him as he teachers others, and it's a frightening act to witness.


2. Arrival
A big part of what made Denis Villeneuve's most sympathetic film so moving is Adams' tangible performance as a linguistics professor . She is hired to translate the visible language of an alien species that has made its way to Earth. Cursed by devastation, and longing for possibility, her take as Louise Banks is perfectly nuanced, without any extra force or under-acted moments. She is the main heart here, and it shows.


1. American Hustle/The Fighter
I think it goes to show that a main reason why David O. Russell films did so well is because of the cast he selects. In both The Fighter and American Hustle, Amy Adams arguably steals many scenes she is a part of. In The Fighter, Adams plays a tough-as-nails bartender with a blunt Bostonian accent, a stare to kill, and zero tolerance for bull. She turns into the engine that sets a boxing career into motion, and a toxic family in on itself. In American Hustle, Adams is the chameleonic Sydney Prosser who, when exposed to the life of forgery, ends up wanting to take the reins. Her accent acrobatics, and her ability to drop personas on a dime make this performance thrilling to watch. I couldn't pick one performance of hers from an O. Russell film, so I'm going with both.

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Andreas Babiolakis has a Masters degree in Film and Photography Preservation and Collections management from Ryerson University, as well as a Bachelors degree in Cinema Studies from York University. His favourite times of year are the Criterion Collection flash sales and the annual Toronto International Film Festival.