2006: Best Supporting Actress for “Junebug.” 2009: Best Supporting Actress for “Doubt.” 2011: Best Supporting Actress for “The Fighter.” 2013: Best Supporting Actress for “The Master.” 2014: Best Actress for “American Hustle.” Five nominations. Zero wins. I would say poor Amy Adams, how desperately sad for her but, lets be honest, she’s a fantastic actress making a tremendous amount of money and I’m a poor student sat on my bed writing this article in London eating noodles out of a pan. Not that I’m bitter at all.
Anyhow, Adams hasn’t been able to catch a break when it comes to the golden glow of Oscar. But this year, she has doubled her chances by having two awards-friendly films. In “Arrival,” also starring Jeremy Renner, she plays a linguist recruited by the military to assist in translating alien communications. And in “Nocturnal Animals,” she is an art gallery owner haunted by her ex-husband’s (Jake Gyllenhaal) novel. Two very different films, two very different roles, both with the potential to promise awards rewards.
“Arrival” has more of an uphill climb to garner her Oscar attention. The academy is famously snobbish when it comes to sci-fi, rarely giving any love to actors in particular. There are a few exceptions, of course, such as Sir Alec Guinness in “Star Wars: A New Hope” (nominated for Best Supporting Actor, 1977) and Sigourney Weaver in “Aliens” (nominated for Best Actress, 1986), but for the most part, they are dismissive of performances in sci-fi fare.
Aliens are featured heavily in “Arrival” and Denis Villeneuve’s film does not flinch from it’s genre. Howver, it is an assured, confident, smart film, one in which Adams shines in her portrayal of an expert linguist. I have a theory Oscar voters love roles wherein the character is an expert at something. Like Natalie Portman in “Black Swan” (Best Actress, 2010) or J.K. Simmons for “Whiplash” (Best Supporting Actor, 2014).
Like Tom Ford’s first film “A Single Man” (2009), “Nocturnal Animals” has its own distinctive, unique style and voice, which Oscar voters love. Ford is regarded as an auteur and directed Colin Firth to his first Oscar nomination in “A Single Man.” Adams has been equally lauded for her work in Ford’s sophomore effort.
Having two Oscar-worthy films in one year is a double-edged sword. Does she split her bets and campaign for both, which could potentially weaken her claim for either? Or does she choose to position herself in supporting for one and lead for the other? The latter worked a treat for Jamie Foxx in 2005, when he reaped bids for both Best Actor with “Ray” and Best Supporting Actor with “Collateral” (even though he was definitely the lead in both), winning for the former. Then again, that route could backfire badly. Remember, Tom Hanks tried that in 2013 for his starring role in “Captain Phillips” and featured performance in “Saving Mr Banks” but missed out on bids for both.
If Adams decides to focus on just one film, the fact that she gives a good performance in another will definitely help her. Just last year, Tom Hardy reaped a surprise Best Supporting Actor bid for “The Revenant” (on a side note, I am extremely happy he did get in because he thoroughly deserved it and I’m a massive fan. I even won a free pint at my local pub quiz the other week after guessing the ‘who am I’ section was Hardy after just one clue; ‘I was born in Hammersmith in 1977.’ Pathetic). Anyhow, Hardy had starred in three other films in 2015 — “Mad Max: Fury Road,” “London Road” and “Legend” — which boosted his profile. Oscar voters admired his collective work and rewarded him for the most viable option. The same could happen for Adams this year and, with five nominations already under her belt, she is well overdue.
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