5. Junebug (Phil Morrison, 2005)
The endearing, spectacular performance that gave way to a host of tremendous moments in Adams’ career, Phil Morrison’s Junebug cast her as Ashley, a sweet, talkative pregnant girl who thinks that the baby she’s having will fix some things in her relationship with her husband, Jonny (Ben McKenzie).
Ashley comes into the lead character Madeleine’s life when she (Embeth Davidtz) goes to a small town in North Carolina to meet her husband’s family, learning there’s a little more of old-fashioned Southern values to him than she thought.
There’s heart to spare in Junebug, but it’s Adams’ Ashley that stays with the spectator longer than all the other characters, maybe because the actress is so committed to the tragedy and understated glory of her.
4. Her (Spike Jonze, 2013)
Yes, it’s a small role, arguably as small as her part in Catch Me If You Can, but as Joaquin Phoenix’s neighbor and best friend, Adams is as much of an essential part of Her as the lead actor or Scarlett Johansson’s brilliant work as the voice of Samantha.
In Spike Jonze’s sci-fi drama masterpiece, Theodore (Phoenix) is a recently divorced writer of love letters for other people in a future when “operating systems” to virtually everything for mankind – when he meets his new-model digital assistant, though, things feel different, and he soon falls in love.
Making tremendous use of the few minutes she has onscreen, Adams delivers a tremendously sensitive and moving performance, going through a slew of emotions in a convincing and engrossing way even if we see her only in a few scenes. That’s definitely the mark of an extraordinary performer.
3. Doubt (John Patrick Shanley, 2008)
John Patrick Shanley’s tense game of cat and mouse is dominated by Meryl Streep and Phillip Seymour Hoffman, arguably the best actor working by the time the movie was produced. And even though Viola Davis stands out in a powerful small scene, it’s Amy Adams’ unsuspecting, hopeful nun that ends up as the most memorable supporting character on the story.
Adams’ Sister James is the one who innocently comments with catholic school headmistress Sister Beauvier (Streep) that she thinks Father Flynn (Hoffman) is paying too much attention to a boy recently admitted into the school.
Beauvier’s journey from self-righteousness through to self-doubt is subtle, but Sister James’ emotions are more on her sleeve, and Adams counterbalances Streep’s self-contained performance by making her character a time bomb ready to explode. It never actually does, but it gives a sense of urgency that Doubt sorely misses.
2. The Master (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2012)
Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master has been saluted by most viewers as a glowing, intense, opaque and unwavering portrait of the darkness in the American personality and ideology, digging into different areas than Anderson’s previous American folk story There Will Be Blood.
Between two astounding actors with whom she had work before or would work again, Adams plays Peggy Dodd, wife to “movement-leader” Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman). Together they form a strong united front representing The Cause – their weird, twisted relationship with war veteran Freddie (Joaquin Phoenix) is in the center of the plot.
There’s a complementary nature to Adams’ work here, both in its relationship with Phoenix’s performance and Hoffman’s character, but there’s also a strong portrait of a woman as dedicated and instrumental to what she believes in as any of the men around her.
1. American Hustle (David O. Russell, 2013)
From one con-man’s wife to another, our Amy Adams list closes with American Hustle, her second (and probably last) film with David O. Russell. The difference here is that she’s actually Irving’s (Christian Bale) lover, a fellow con-woman with a knack for accents, outrageous necklines and complex deceptions.
Among the dazzling looks of Russell’s unique mix of screwball comedy and pungent drama, Adams becomes the absolute standout in a cast that includes Jennifer Lawrence’s feral performance as Irving’s wife.
Her Sydney Prescott is such an ingenious creation, all the layers of her deception perfectly visible through Adams’ performance, and yet precisely subtle so that the characters around her don’t see through it. It’s an astoundingly complex work, and one she pulls off with seemingly ease.
Author Bio: Caio Coletti is a Brazilian-born journalist, a proud poptimist, and has too many opinions to keep them all to himself.