There are some actresses that bring a certain sort of radiance and happiness to my days whenever I see them in movies. One, of course, is the lovely Jessica Chastain. The other is unsurprisingly another red-head, and also the woman who I deem to be my favourite actress: Amy Adams. I have been in love with Amy since I saw her in Enchanted over four years back, and have been watching her in anything I possibly could ever since. Through that I’ve seen a few misfires (Leap Year and Moonlight Serenade stick out in that department), a few little gems (Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day and Junebug), but of course, I’ve seen Amy’s immense talent shining through in every single one of them. So I thought, since it is her birthday and all, I may as well appreciate that talent by listing the five performances that make her my favourite actress. And you must know that it was quite hard to whittle the list down to just five.
5. Rose in Sunshine Cleaning
Sunshine Cleaning is quite an underrated little gem, boasting two fine performances by both Emily Blunt and Amy. The pair starts up a business cleaning up crime scenes, with Emily playing the unreliable sister, and Amy playing the brains behind it all. What I loved about Amy’s character was the fact that back in the day, she was the most popular girl in high school, and everyone expected so much from her. However, now, she’s in adult world, she finds herself struggling, even saying that she’s a real estate agent to a former class mate to make herself seem like she’s still on top. Unfortunately, Rose is still stuck in that high school ideal where you have to appear as if you’re doing well, as opposed to actually doing well. Amy hits the right notes with that, instead of turning her character into a whiny, “oh my life sucks” kind of person. Which, in an independent feature such as this, is quite a rare thing.
4. Charlene in The Fighter
Amy’s third Oscar nomination in the supporting actress role had her playing Mark Wahlberg’s supposedly trashy girlfriend in The Fighter. Sadly, Amy lost the award to a much less effective Melissa Leo, which was a real shame considering Amy wouldn’t have gone out there and dropped an F-bomb on stage. The role itself that Amy delved into could have been quite a thankless one, as in any other film, she would have been pushed to the side unless her man wanted kisses or something. However, not only does Amy make her presence known, but she plays against type so damn well. There’s no wide-eyed smiles or bubbly giggles here, instead she tries to take down a group of the most annoying seven sisters that I’ve ever seen. She’s as tough as nails, and probably could have gone out there and fought Micky’s fights for him if she had the chance. Unlike Leo, who was just there to wear a hideous bottle blonde wig and shout things at people. How the hell people thought Leo was better than Amy is beyond me.
3. Ashley in Junebug
This was Amy’s first foray into the Best Supporting Actress category at the Oscars that she always seems to fit so well into, but arguably one of her most forgotten roles. Junebug was a 2005 low-fi family drama, and had Amy playing Ashley, a young, naive pregnant woman who’s part of the family that art dealer Madeleine (Embeth Davidtz) marries into. She's like a child, with the way her family treats her and the way that she pushes herself onto everyone else. Her non-stop talking does get pretty annoying after a while, but it was interesting to see her finally take off her positive facade at the end, as Amy played this really well. See the film just for her. And Ben McKenzie also, who plays her husband. These two are heart-breaking together: Ashley loves her husband so much, but he is too busy in his own little world to take notice of that fact. The amount of times I wanted to give Ashley a big hug...
2. Giselle in Enchanted
I may be almost 17, but I bloody love Enchanted. I remember seeing a preview for it on TV and going “oh lord, that could never be any good”, but then I saw it in cinema and absolutely fell in love with the modern Disney fairytale. And how was that possible? Only because of Amy Adams. I swear that her performance as a soon-to-be princess who is transported to the real world was Oscar worthy. Sure, it isn’t really as valid as the usual soul-wrenching, drug-addled fare, but the way that she fills a role that was probably better as an animation was just so damn adorable. She embodies the rule of a typical Disney princess, which is an extremely hard thing to do in a normal, real world setting. The best thing is that she doesn't become a two dimensional figure filled with every 'princess' cliché (come on, I love Anne Hathaway but her performance in Alice in Wonderland was like seeing an animation walking around), instead giving her fish-out-of-water situation a bit of strange realism. Who would have thunk it?
1. Delysia in Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day
One of the best things about loving Amy Adams was that it introduced me to this glorious screwball comedy, which has become one of my favourite movies of all time. In a fun, frothy take on the days where the second World War was looming over Britain, Amy plays aspiring actress/singer Delysia LaFosse, who also has three boyfriends: the sly, controlling Nick (Mark Strong) who owns the nightclub she works at and also her apartment; the young and naive Phil (Tom Payne) who she's sleeping with in the hope that she'll get the lead role in his play; and Michael (Lee Pace), her piano partner and the man she really loves, but he has a criminal history and not a lot of money or prestige like the other two. Throughout one day, we follow her life which is touched by down on her luck governess Miss Pettigrew (Frances McDormand). Let me tell you, this film is exactly like one of the old screwball comedies from the 1930s that I love so dearly. That mostly comes down to Amy's delightful performance, which has her acting as if she were innocent and naive, which is not what she really is. Basically, you'll just have to see the performance yourself: no one does cute like Amy without delving into self-parody. And that's why I love her so.
Also, happy birthday to the amazing Andrew Garfield! What are some of your reasons to love Amy Adams as an actress?