2013: The Year of Amy Adams

Just delightful (AP)
January 13, 2014

I've previously argued that 2013 was the Year of James Franco, who, it seemed, was everywhere. But you could just as easily make the case that 2013 was the Year of Amy Adams, who took home the Golden Globe for best performance by an actress in a motion picture (comedy/musical) last night. Indeed, I think I'll do that right now.

Adams starred in three of the best films of the year (or, at least, three films that cracked my top ten list): Man of SteelHer, and American Hustle. That by itself isn't terribly interesting (indeed, Franco himself showed up in two of them). What is interesting is how remarkably different each of these movies was. Man of Steel is a big budget tentpole action flick; Her is an intimate relationship film that operates somewhere in that nebulous zone between comedy and tragedy; and American Hustle, for which she won the Golden Globe last night, is an out-and-out farce, a manic and madcap period piece that allowed her to vamp it up and have a little fun.

No one should be terribly surprised by this range of powerhouse performances from Adams. She has spent the last decade or so building a killer résumé, starring in a variety of genres and nailing a variety of roles. Audiences first began to catch on to her talents in Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, in which she stole the show as the mousey team member who convinces Will Ferrel's broken race car driver back on the track. But it was her turn as the cartoon-made-flesh Giselle in Enchanted that put her squarely on the nation's radar. Her impassioned performance—and her ability to embody all the quirky things that a real-life cartoon would comprise—wowed audiences and turned what could have been a disastrous misfire* into a huge hit for Disney.

Shifting gears again, Adams starred in the quirky indie Sunshine Cleaning and as a naive nun in Doubt, a pair of roles that allowed her to show off her understated charm. Firmly established as a major league talent and already on the Academy Awards' radar after nabbing a surprise nomination for 2005's Junebug, Adams started racking up noms left and right. She has been nominated for an Oscar in 2009 (Doubt), 2011 (The Fighter), and 2013 (The Master). She has been similarly successful at racking up nominations at the Golden Globes; last night was her first major win, however.

It's nice to see this multi-talented actress finally get the recognition she is due. It may be the only trophy to adorn her mantle this year, however; the best actress category is likely to be especially tight this year. Between Sandra Bullock (Gravity) and frequent nominees Meryl Streep (the abysmal August: Osage County), Judi Dench (the middling Philomena), and Kate Winslet (Labor Day, which I haven't seen but who knows)—not to mention Cate Blanchette, Emma Thompson, and a host of other strong contenders—Amy Adams might wind up being slighted. Which would be too bad, given that this is the Year of Amy Adams.

*I remember seeing ads for that and thinking "This is the stupidest movie of the year, right? Has to be." But I was totally charmed by Adams. She singlehandedly turned that into a huge hit. Not bad for a not-yet-A-lister.