Mailbag: Amy Adams
Things are tough right now. Amy Adams always seems to make brutal situations a bit more bearable, so this month, we're spotlighting the six-time Academy Award nominee. And we're kicking off with a raucous mailbag.
1. If you could only interview Amy about one of her movies, which would it be? What is the question you most want to ask?
Zach D’Amico: One question, simultaneously about Vice and Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby: Should Adam McKay go back to pure comedies?
Carson Cook: Nocturnal Animals, if only to get more gossip about famous people mixing up Adams and Isla Fisher.
Jonny Diaz: I don’t think we could’ve appreciated enough at the time what a gift it was to have the four stars of Doubt share the screen together back in 2008. Obviously Meryl Streep was huge, but Amy was still very much on the rise, Viola Davis was a stage veteran who hadn’t yet ascended to the level of stardom she now occupies, and, of course, we had no way of knowing that Philip Seymour Hoffman would soon no longer be with us. I can only imagine what it was like to share a set with Meryl, PSH, and Viola, and I would love to hear from Amy about what that experience was like.
Sara D’Amico: Catch Me If You Can. I would want to know what her state of mind was like going into and filming — was she nervous about working with “big-name” actors? Did she get the sense that this would be a breakthrough for her?
Ben Nadeau: You’ve worked with Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon, Jennifer Lawrence, Julianne Moore, and Meryl Streep… But what was it like working with true legends of the craft on The Muppets?
2. You want to order a custom painting of an Amy Adams scene? Which still do you choose?
ZD: Don’t. Call. Me. SKANK.
CC: Look, you’re going to want something on your wall that reminds you of happier times.
JD: Listen, it’s perfectly normal to have a framed portrait of all of your friends in your home.
SD: The beauty of Denis and Bradford Young cannot be denied.
BN: Amy Adams’ solo performance in 'Me Party' should have won her an Oscar (or Grammy) long before the Arrival fiasco of 2016.
3. Amy Adams has famously gone 0-for-6 at the Academy Awards. You have the power to go back and give her the win for one of them. Which one do you pick?
ZD: I pick secret option 7, Arrival, because that masterpiece of a movie literally does not work without her performance. But of the 6 misses, it’s The Fighter for me. She embodies a specific Bostonian archetype that’s hard to pull off, and that one hurt particularly badly because her co-star, Melissa Leo, won the award instead.
CC: I like Tom Hooper’s Les Mis more than most, and think Anne Hathaway is quite good in it — I really don’t begrudge her win. But if we’re playing with the past, Adams’ turn as Peggy Dodd in The Master is as impressive as they come and in a year where the category isn’t particularly strong top to bottom (apologies to Sally Field, Helen Hunt, and Jacki Weaver), it’s almost hard to believe the Academy didn’t take the opportunity to reward her — well, unless you think there might have been something else about the film that rankled Hollywood...
JD: Now that Leonardo DiCaprio finally got his for The Revenant, Amy Adams has taken his place as the most egregiously un-Oscared movie star of her generation. But it didn’t have to be this way. No disrespect to her co-star Melissa Leo, who is fabulous in The Fighter, but Adams should’ve been the one to bring that Oscar home.
SD: Doubt. I liked Penélope Cruz’s performance in Vicky Christina Barcelona (the Supporting Actress winner that year) just fine -- but Amy’s performance in Doubt was complicated and quiet, in a way that underscored the unsettling premise of the film. I would also obviously nominate her for Arrival.
BN: As much as I love my position as Rough Cut’s resident Muppets stan, we cannot lie in this household: Amy Adams for Arrival. “Despite knowing the journey and where it leads... I embrace it... and I welcome every moment of it.” I left the theater and walked around in complete silence for the following two hours. What a movie; what a scene; what an actress. Damn.
(Am I pretending that Adams was nominated for Arrival? You’re damn right. What? You want a real answer? Fine, The Fighter.)
4. Adams has worked with several of Hollywood's most notable directors, including Steven Spielberg, Nora Ephron, and Paul Thomas Anderson. Who would you most like to see her reteam with, and who would you most like to see her work with for the first time?
ZD: I’d like to see her in a third David O. Russell movie, because I think his films and direction lend themselves to the type of controlled chaos that Adams (and Jennifer Lawrence) do so well. And I’d love to see her work with Tamara Jenkins.
CC: She obviously does great work in Arrival, one of Denis Villeneuve’s warmer efforts, but her performances in The Master and Nocturnal Animals make me think she could easily carry one of Villeneuve’s nastier stories once he’s done with Dune. As far as a new collaboration goes, I would kill to see what she and Greta Gerwig could do together.
JD: Amy Adams is an actor of uncommon empathy, and I would love to see her work with a director who takes a similarly open-hearted approach to filmmaking—someone like Barry Jenkins. She’s also done some of her most interesting work with directors who subvert her star persona and stretch her range, like David O. Russell and Paul Thomas Anderson. I’d be happy to see her work with either one again!
SD: It would be great to see her work with Denis Villeneuve again (or maybe I’m just obsessed with Arrival?). His films often have roles that are complex and challenging, and I have no doubt Amy would excel under his direction. I’d love to see her team up with Greta Gerwig.
BN: Denis Villenueve is obviously disposed with turning Dune into a billion-dollar franchise, but I’d love to see Adams in a Gyllenhaal-level thriller like Enemy. As for the new pairing, I don’t want to feel like a massive cheater given our recent spotlight, but I’m going with Christopher Nolan (alive, don’t get any ideas, Chris!)... I think she’d fare excellently in some psychological, twisty, magical nonsense.
5. Which Amy Adams character would you want to get drunk with, and why?
ZD: I’d normally go with Charlene Fleming, but I’m beginning to sound like a broken record about The Fighter. I’ll go instead with Lynne Cheney to find out what she really thinks about Dick.
CC: Sydney Prosser, American Hustle: never pass up the opportunity to go drinking with a con woman — sure, you’re probably gonna get scammed by the end of the night, but the potential for great bits is just so high.
JD: There is one correct answer, and it’s Charlene Fleming from The Fighter, a.k.a. “that MTV girl from the bar.” Charlene would show you a great night on the town—but if you try to keep up with her, you might not remember it the next day.
SD: Sydney Prosser in The Hustle, for two reasons: (1) I bet she has some pretty great stories, and (2) she would probably be a good buddy for drunk shenanigans.
BN: The answer is obviously Giselle from Enchanted, right?
6. If Amy got transported to Zootopia instead of New York in Enchanted, what kind of animal would she be when she popped out of the sewer?
ZD: She would be a Red Fox, because a) red, b) they are often nocturnal, and Adams is a known Nocturnal Animal, and c) they are just plain dope.
CC: I honestly don’t think I can handle the complexities of the shared multiverse posited by this question.
JD: Obviously, she’d be a Nightbitch.
SD: If we’re talking Amy as her character in Enchanted (Giselle), probably a lark. Prone to breaking into elaborate songs about nothing, enjoys flittering about. If we’re talking Amy as herself, she might pop out as an elephant. Smart, patient, thoughtful.
BN: A flamingo because flamingos are the best, and so is Amy Adams.
7. Why wasn’t Amy Adams nominated for an Oscar for her performance in Arrival?
ZD: Meryl Streep was nominated for Florence Foster Jenkins, mostly for singing poorly when she actually has a good singing voice, but presumably really just for being Meryl Streep. That’s a tough look for the Academy. But the key to answering this is to remember that Arrival raked in the second-most nominations that year, and that Adams has been nominated six times. So the Oscars loved the movie, and they love her. What does that mean? It means, I think, that in a big, visual, idea-driven sci-fi film, the Academy has no respect for the importance of acting. Booooooooo.
CC: Ummm, isn’t it obvious? How can you not nominate Meryl Streep for playing someone who can’t sing when we all know that Meryl is objectively fine at singing?! You gotta reward the range.
JD: Because the universe wants me to be unhappy, I guess. There are plenty of reasons I could try to come up with to explain why it didn’t happen—the Lead Actress category was remarkably competitive that year, it’s possible that Arrival was viewed more as a technical achievement than an acting one, voters felt like she had been rewarded enough—but nothing really justifies leaving out an A-list movie star headlining one of the year’s biggest and most-nominated films and giving what might be her career-best performance. It’s one of the most baffling omissions in recent Academy history that I can recall.
SD: Because the Academy is mostly a bunch of old white guys who can’t resist Meryl Streep.
BN: I'm not so sure I believe in beginnings and endings. There are days that define your story beyond your life. Like the day Amy Adams was snubbed for Arrival.
8. And a Rough Cut favorite: what’s the one clip that should play when Christopher Nolan wins a lifetime achievement award?
ZD: My wife walked down the aisle to Max Richter’s “On the Nature of Daylight,” which scores the final sequence in Arrival, so I’m going to go with that one. Everything she’s done as an actor in the prior 2 hours slams home in that last few minutes; it’s perfection. Note: do not watch if you have not seen Arrival.
BN: I mean, there is no contest whatsoever.