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Filmtroduction: Amy Adams

With the recent release of Arrival and Nocturnal Animals, and their subsequent critical acclaim, Amy Adams has proved once again that her talents as an actress are not to be underestimated. Impact Film & TV take a look at the road travelled by one of this year’s likely Oscar nominees.

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“Amy Adams as Susan Morrow in Nocturnal Animals

When considering her current venerated status in the industry, it’s easy to forget that Adams’ foray into Hollywood was rocky to start with. After playing bit parts in The Slaughter Rule and Drop Dead Gorgeous, her minor role in Steven Spielberg’s 2002 biopic Catch Me If You Can – as the innocent love interest of fraudster Frank Abagnale Jr. (Leonardo DiCaprio) – finally seemed to cause traction.

“She has this uncanny ability of finding the ‘hook’ in her characters – her way of forging a path to her character’s inner being and encouraging the audience to come with her”

One would expect working with such heavy weights as Spielberg, DiCaprio and Martin Sheen (who played her father in the film) would have jump-started her career; instead, however, she didn’t work for the entirety of 2003. Speaking of this time in an interview with Elle UK in 2013, Adams stated that she “wasn’t confident enough” to take on the mantle of celebrity.

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“Her minor role in Steven Spielberg’s 2002 biopic Catch Me If You Can – as the innocent love interest of fraudster Frank Abagnale Jr. (Leonardo DiCaprio) – finally seemed to cause traction.”

This shroud of insecurity has surely been lifted by now, though. 13 years, five Oscar nominations, one child and at least one franchise later, it’s safe to say that Adams is at a point where she can distinguish between uncertainty and quiet assurance – and this is reflected in the characters that she chooses to play.

Her breakout role as the sweet, naïve Ashley in 2005’s Junebug or the optimistic, naïve Giselle in Enchanted would suggest that Adams herself would be (you guessed it) naïve. In reality, Adams strikes as anything but. She has this uncanny ability of finding the ‘hook’ in her characters – her way of forging a path to her character’s inner being and encouraging the audience to come with her.

“Adams will continue to breathe new life into this era of spin-offs and anthology films”

Perhaps this is best exemplified by her performance in 2008’s Doubt, where she plays Sister James, a wholesome young teacher at a Catholic church who’s fervent belief is thrust into question when Sister Aloysius (her superior, played by a stern-lipped Meryl Streep) accuses Father Flynn (the late, great Philip Seymour Hoffman, a three-time collaborator and friend of Adams) of perpetuating an inappropriate relationship with an altar boy. While her cast mates may have the more obvious moments of glory, Adams’ minute yet astute subtleties in her embodiment of the character are not to be overlooked, and elevate her performance to a strikingly empathetic level

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“Adams’ minute yet astute subtleties in her embodiment of the character are not to be overlooked, and elevate her performance to a strikingly empathetic level.”

In an interview with Hadley Freeman of The Guardian in early November, Adams said she “can disappear really, really quickly in a room”. Whether that’s due to her position as the fourth child of seven is unclear, but there is no question that she’s correct: her talents often go unnoticed in comparison to the more flamboyant idiosyncrasies of her colleagues. This is best represented by the fact that there is nowhere near as much hullabaloo surrounding Adams’ lack of an Oscar as there was with DiCaprio, who – up until winning for The Revenant at the beginning of the year– had just as many nominations as Adams.

Come February, however, this may change. Although it’s unlikely she will win Best Actress at the Oscars (due to stiff competition from the likes of Emma Stone in La La Land and Natalie Portman in Jackie), a nomination for her role as Louise, professor of linguistics in Arrival, is highly likely. Of course, if she does win, it will be refreshing to see an actress over 40 (the apparent age at which good roles for women become few and far between) be recognised for playing a character that is allowed to be that age without enforcing any awkward cover-ups to hide the fact.

Although currently filming Justice League, the fifth instalment in the DC cinematic universe, Adams’ participation in the – somewhat failing – franchise can be forgiven. As long as she keeps making interesting decisions regarding what projects she works on, Adams will continue to breathe new life into this era of spin-offs and anthology films.

Sarah Quraishi

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Media sourced from Fade to Black Productions, DreamWorks SKG, and Goodspeed Productions

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