Amy Adams: 10 Great Roles From ‘Junebug’ to ‘Big Eyes’
Amy Adams has been an Oscar staple for the last several years, and for good reason. The actress has proven herself capable of playing everything from charming and sweetly naive characters like in Enchanted to sharp and feisty ones like in American Hustle. Now, she’s once again garnering critical praise for her portrayal of real-life artist Margaret Keane, in this month’s Big Eyes.
The movie, directed by Tim Burton, follows Keane as her kitschy portraits of children with huge, orb-like eyes gain popularity in the 1960s. As the demand for the images continue rising, she realizes her husband, Walter, has taken full credit for the work without even bothering to tell her. Critics are calling Adams’ portrayal “stunning” and “one of her best overall performances” and she has already earned a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress in a comedy or musical. The Oscar nominees have not yet been announced, so moviegoers will have to stay tuned to see if she also gains attention there, too.
Already a five-time nominee, Adams has a long history of highly praised performances behind her — all of which helped her become one of Hollywood’s leading actresses. Here’s a look back at some of 10 of her most critically acclaimed roles (listed in chronological order).
1. Catch Me if You Can
Adams only portrayed a small role in the 2002 drama, based on real-life events. The actress played young, braces-wearing nurse Brenda Strong, a love interest to Leonardo DiCaprio’s character Frank, who quickly figures out he’s not as reliable as she thinks he is. The movie earned wide critical acclaim and though the part was small, Adams made it memorable, bringing her usual irresistibility to the character.
Adam’s breakthrough role came in the 2005 comedy drama about an art dealer who travels from Chicago to North Carolina to meet her new in-laws, throwing the middle class Southern home into chaos. Adams plays Ashley, a sweet, childlike and naive pregnant girl who is amazed by her sister-in-law’s seemingly glamorous life. The acclaimed performance earned her a Best Supporting Actress nomination at the SAG awards and the Critics’ Choice Movie Awards, as well as her first ever Academy Award nod.
Adams stars as Princess Giselle in this 2007 Disney live-action musical comedy, about a fairytale princess whose views on life and love start to change after she is sent to modern-day New York by an evil queen and meets a handsome lawyer. The film was both a critical and commercial success, grossing more than $430 million worldwide at the box office. The movie earned overwhelmingly positive reviews and Adams was credited for bringing the fairytale to life with wide-eyed, winning charm. The role earned Adams a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress in a musical or comedy.
Adams co-starred alongside Meryl Streep, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, and Viola Davis in the 2008 drama film adaptation of John Patrick Shanley’s play, Doubt: a Parable. The movie follows the story of a Catholic school principal, who questions a priest’s ambiguous relationship with a troubled young student. Adams plays Sister James, a nun who starts questioning her superior’s accusations against the Church’s priest. Her performance gained critical acclaim and proved her ability to hold her own against other highly appraised stars like Streep and Hoffman. Adams earned her second Oscar nomination for the part, as well as Best Supporting Actress nods at the BAFTAs, SAG awards, and Golden Globes.
5. Julie & Julia
This 2009 comedy drama followed the intertwining stories of Julia Child’s start in the cooking profession and blogger Julie Powell’s 2002 challenge to cook all the recipes in Child’s first book. Though Meryl Streep (justly) earned most of the attention for her portrayal of Child, many reviewers found Adams just as fun to watch, calling her performance “sweetly understated” and “another demonstration of [Adams’] career growth.”
6. The Fighter
The 2010 biographical sports drama centers on the life of professional boxer Micky Ward (played by Mark Wahlberg) and his older half-brother Dicky Eklund (Christian Bale). Adams puts on a sassy performance as Micky’s girlfriend, Charlene Fleming. The role earned lots of attention from reviewers, who praised her for playing against type and called it one of the best performances of her career. The part earned her a third Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress, as well as nominations at the SAG awards, the BAFTAs, and the Golden Globes.
7. The Muppets
The 2012 musical comedy stars Adams alongside Jason Segel and the rest of the classic characters. The actress plays Mary, the longtime girlfriend to Segel’s Gary. The film was both a critical and commercial success, grossing $165 million worldwide and earning acclaim for its self-reflective humor and music. Adams also gained praise for her individual performance, which once again captured the adorable charm and persistent enthusiasm that the actress displayed in Enchanted.
8. The Master
The 2012 Paul Thomas Anderson-directed drama follows a Naval veteran (Joaquin Phoenix) who arrives home from war unsettled and uncertain of his future — until he is tantalized by a philosophical movement called The Cause and its charismatic leader, Lancaster Dodd (Phillip Seymour Hoffman). Adams stars as Peggy, Dodd’s wife. The film itself earned wide acclaim and Adams’ individual performance earned her a third Best Supporting Actress nomination at the Golden Globes and her fourth Oscar nomination in the same category.
Though her role in this 2013 Spike Jonez film was widely overshadowed by her lead part in American Hustle (which came out around the same time), Adams was nevertheless just as impressive playing Amy, a close friend who Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) fails to see as he falls in love with an operating system (voiced by Scarlett Johansson). In Adams’ hands, you can’t help but feel for the quietly disheveled character.
10. American Hustle
In her second movie directed by David O. Russell after The Fighter, Adams stars alongside Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, and Jennifer Lawrence, as a sexy con-artist who teams up with the government to go after possibly corrupt politicians. The universally praised film received 10 total nominations at the Oscars, including one for Best Actress for Adams, whose performance was called “spectacular, febrile, dramatic, comic, sharp, sarcastic and magnificent” by Ray Pride of Newcity Film. Though Adams didn’t end up taking home an Oscar, she did take home a Critics Choice and Golden Globe award for the role.