2019 Emmy spotlight: Amy Adams’s performance cuts deep in ‘Sharp Objects’

The 2018 Emmys won’t be handed out until September, but the 2019 Emmy race has already begun with HBO’s chilling eight-part miniseries “Sharp Objects,” based on a novel by “Gone Girl” author Gillian Flynn. Marti Noxon (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “UnReal“) ran the show, and Jean-Marc Vallee (“Dallas Buyers Club,” “Big Little Lies“) directed every episode. They’re both strong Emmy contenders for their work behind the camera, but let’s talk about what lead actress Amy Adams accomplished on screen.

Remember when Adams used to be primarily known for playing lovable naifs? She initially broke through with warmhearted roles in “Catch Me if You Can” (2002) and “Junebug” (2005), the latter of which earned her her first Oscar nomination. And she followed those up with similarly chipper heroines in “Enchanted” (2007), “Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day” (2008) and “Julie and Julia” (2009). But then she started to expand her repertoire to include darker, grittier characters in “The Fighter” (2010), “The Master” (2012) and “American Hustle” (2013), which earned her her third, fourth and fifth Oscar nominations.

By 2018 she had established her versatility well enough that it didn’t come as a surprise when she popped up in “Sharp Objects” this summer as Camille Preaker, a journalists who returns to her Missouri home town to investigate two murders. Camille is an alcoholic with a history of emotional trauma and self-harm that we learn about gradually through jarring flashes of memory as the story unfolds. Camille herself is closed off, so it’s up to Adams to convey the heavy weight on her shoulders without giving too much away, and she does it so naturally that “Junebug” feels like a lifetime ago.

Angelica Jade Bastien (Vulture) writes that “Adams’s best work in the finale proves to be the quietest moments when she allows Camille’s emotional life to be transparent, each groove illuminated on her face.” Darren Franich (Entertainment Weekly) praised Adams’s “great performance” for expressing “years of horror and psychological trauma.” And Elena Hilton (Esquire) says, “Let’s all just focus on how great Amy Adams’s Emmys speech is going to be.”

We’re only three months into the eligibility period for the 2019 Emmys, but it’s not too early to consider the Emmy potential of “Sharp Objects.” After all, HBO aired another crime drama, “The Night Of,” during the same summer time slot in 2016, and it ended up winning four Emmys a year later, including Best Movie/Mini Actor for Riz Ahmed.

And in the meantime we’re likely to see Adams pop up at the Golden Globes, Critics’ Choice Awards and SAG Awards for this performance during the fall and winter awards season, where she might also be feted for playing Lynne Cheney in the big-screen docudrama “Backseat.” So after five Oscar losses, perhaps 2019 will be the year when Adams wins both Oscar and Emmy.

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