After a number of TV appearances early in her career, Amy Adams has made a glorious return to television in HBO’s eight-episode limited series “Sharp Objects.” The series is directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, who won an Emmy for directing another heralded HBO mini, “Big Little Lies.” In this project, Adams portrays troubled reporter Camille Preaker, who just having been released from a psychiatric hospital for harming herself, returns to her hometown to investigate a double murder.
Adams, of course, is most known for her film work, having earned two Golden Globe Awards (from seven nominations), won a Screen Actors Guild Award (also from seven nominations) and has been nominated for five Academy Awards. Those Oscar nominations have been for “Junebug” (2005), “Doubt” (2008), “The Fighter” (2010), “The Master” (2012) and “American Hustle” (2013).
In recognition of Adams’ return to TV, let’s take a tour in our photo gallery above of her 15 greatest movie performances, ranked from worst to best.
15. NOCTURNAL ANIMALS (2016)
In Tom Ford‘s second film, Adams plays Susan, a gallery owner in Los Angeles, who receives a manuscript for a novel written by her ex-husband Edward (Jake Gyllenhaal). Now in a second marriage to unfaithful businessman Hutton (Armie Hammer), she pours over the novel, shocked at how close her first marriage was to the events that Edward depicts in the book.
14. THE MUPPETS (2011)
Adams lets her hair down and has a blast in this musical comedy where she plays Mary, a teacher, mechanic and girlfriend of Gary (Jason Segel), a Muppet fanatic who travels to Los Angeles to try to get the disbanded Muppets back together again, much to the chagrin of oil magnate Tex Richman (Chris Cooper) who wants to destroy the Muppet Theater.
13. CHARLIE WILSON’S WAR (2007)
Adams’ role in Mike Nichols‘ film is definitely a supporting one, but it’s key in telling the story. As Bonnie Bach, assistant to Rep. Charlie Wilson (Tom Hanks), she becomes the congressman’s moral focus as she joins him in traveling to a refugee camp in Afghanistan and uses her own political touch to help sway Rep. Wilson’s actions on the issue.
12. TROUBLE WITH THE CURVE (2012)
Adams has often displayed a strength to her characterizations that has spoken to me that she could hang with the toughest of boys, and she faced off with one of the most legendary with she is paired with Clint Eastwood here. As lawyer Mickey Lobel who takes time off to accompany her baseball scout father Gus (Eastwood) to check out a possible recruit, she and her father bond in a way that helps her to help her dad with his failing health.
11. SUNSHINE CLEANING (2008)
This film provided Adams with the rare opportunity to work with a female co-star (Emily Blunt), and a female director (Christine Jeffs) from a script by a female writer (Megan Holley). Blunt and Adams play sisters who, pressed financially, take jobs in the crime clean-up business, tidying up after some messy crime or disaster.
10. HER (2013)
In Spike Jonze‘s Oscar-winning script, Adams plays a potential love interest for Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) who, like him, has a relationship with a computerized operating system (OS). In so doing, she is completely sympathetic with his growing relationship with his OS system, named Samantha (Scarlett Johansson), and when Samantha no longer needs Theodore and departs, Amy welcomes the opportunity for their relationship to grow.
9. JULIE AND JULIA (2009)
In Nora Ephron‘s final film, Adams plays the real-life Julie Powell, a young New York blogger who is determined to cook all 524 recipes in chef Julia Child‘s (Meryl Streep) landmark book “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.” Julie’s frustrated husband (Chris Messina) puts up with his wife’s obsession and gets some great dinners as a result.
8. BIG EYES (2014)
In Tim Burton‘s film of the life of real-life artist Margaret Keane, Adams as Keane won her second Golden Globe Award. Margaret, a reluctant artist, found that her depictions of large-eyed subjects proved to be extremely popular in the 1950s. But instead of being able to enjoy her success, she began to realize that her husband Walter (Christoph Waltz) is taking credit for all her success. And that will just not do.
7. JUNEBUG (2005)
I would wager that most of us had never heard the name Adams before “Junebug.” This is the one that put Adams on the awards map. In Phil Morrison‘s film, Adams plays Ashley, a young pregnant wife of Johnny (Benjamin McKenzie), neither one of which has yet finished high school.
6. ENCHANTED (2007)
You might think that playing a Disney princess type would be a walk in the park for most actresses, but for Adams, given her indie cred, it was a real gamble. As Giselle, Adams had to maintain a fine line between being a parody of Disney princesses or playing it real, and luckily she chose playing it real, finding herself transported from her fantasy world to the reality of contemporary Times Square.
5. THE MASTER (2012)
Paul Thomas Anderson‘s “The Master” is a disturbing film for many moviegoers given its theme of life in a cult-like religious movement, but there’s no denying the power of its performances. Philip Seymour Hoffman stars as cult leader Lancaster Dodd, who takes young hothead Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix) under his wing and brings him into the fold of “The Cause,” which Dodd runs along with his scheming wife Peggy (Adams).
4. ARRIVAL (2016)
In Denis Villeneuve‘s sci-fi drama, Adams runs the show as linguist Louise Banks, who is unexpectedly called into service when 12 extraterrestrial spacecraft land in various spots around the world. As it becomes clear that the seven-limbed aliens within are not hostile but are clearly trying to communicate, Louise needs to utilize all her linguistic skills to learn why the aliens have come.
3. DOUBT (2008)
Adams earned her second Oscar nomination, her second Golden Globe nod and her third SAG nomination for her performance as Sister James, a young and somewhat naive nun who is a teacher at a prestigious Catholic school in the Bronx in 1964. After a colleague at the school, Father Flynn (Hoffman), delivers a sermon on doubt that upsets the school’s principal, the rigid Sister Aloysius (Streep), she asks the young nun to keep an idea on him.
2. THE FIGHTER (2010)
The first great collaboration between Adams and writer/director David O. Russell, she co-stars as Charlene Fleming, a local bartender who develops a relationship with pro boxer Micky Ward (Wahlberg) whose career has largely been being a punching bag for boxers who are their way to the top. Adams’ Charlene is one tough cookie, and when Micky’s family blames her for his sudden slump, she will not take that disrespect.
1. AMERICAN HUSTLE (2013)
Frankly any one of Adams’ top four films could be a plausible #1, but I selected “American Hustle” because Adams gets to do so much in Russell’s film. irst of all, she plays con-artist Sydney Prosser, who is partnered in crime with her love, Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale). Yet in her scams, Sydney delightfully takes on the persona of “Lady Edith Greensly,” an English aristocrat who couldn’t possibly be suspected of any wrongdoing.