Amy Adams Is Our Generation's Meryl Streep
She’s played a sexy grifter, a sweet and Southern mom-to-be, and a whistle-blowing nun, raking in Oscar and Golden Globe nominations at every turn (she has 14 altogether). There’s no role Amy Adams can’t metamorphose into, no Hollywood heavyweight she can’t keep up with onscreen — she is a Meryl Streep-level talent, and this awards season will prove it.
The 2019 Golden Globes are almost upon us, and with two acting nominations (Best Actress in a Mini-Series for HBO’s Sharp Objects and Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture for Vice), Adams has entered an elite circle. She’s now sharing rarified air with double-nominated actresses Julianne Moore, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Nicole Kidman, Cate Blanchett, Sigourney Weaver, Kate Winslet, and, of course, Meryl Streep, who is arguably the queen of all awards shows (and also maybe life in general). But wait! Adams is also a producer on Sharp Objects, which is up for Best Television Series or Motion Picture Made for Television, meaning she’s technically up for three Golden Globes this year. Iconic.
But back to her main gig: All together, Adams has been nominated for nine Golden Globes for acting (the same amount as Julia Roberts), and she has two of the coveted awards already. In 2015, she brought home the Best Actress in a Musical/Comedy award for her performance in Big Eyes, and she won in the same category the year before for her role in American Hustle.
At 44 years old, she’s been on the scene for less than 20 years, so you could say that she’s at the place in her career where Streep was when she filmed The Bridges of Madison County in 1995. By that point, Streep had racked up 11 Golden Globe nominations (three of which she won), and she was well on her way to becoming the most Oscar-nominated actress with nine Academy Award nominations by ‘95. (Adams herself holds five Oscar nominations, and while she’s yet to win, it’s only a matter of time.) Accolades and acting chops considered, Adams is quite possibly a Streep in the making — meaning we can expect decades more greatness to come.
But for those who have followed Adams’ career since she shared the big screen with Leonardo DiCaprio in Catch Me if You Can (or, even earlier, when she reprised Sarah Michelle Gellar’s iconic role in Cruel Intentions 2; yes that happened), these milestones aren’t even close to surprising. Whether she’s hitting high notes and talking to cartoon animals (as Giselle in Enchanted) or blogging her way through Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking in Julie and Julia, one thing is clear: not only does Adams quite literally have the range, she’s straight-up reinvented it.
Take, for example, Adams’ work in 2016’s Arrival, for which she earned one of her nine Golden Globe nominations. The science fiction genre isn’t typically thought of as the place for actors to display emotional depth, and yet Adams’ portrayal of Louise Banks, a woman who corresponds with aliens, ultimately learning devastating news about her future child, turned what could have been a straightforward sci-fi thriller into a bona-fide tearjerker. It’s nearly impossible to make it through the final scenes without crying. That hospital room? The dialogue by the river? They will haunt you.
Ahead of this year’s Globes, you can’t talk about Adams’ body of work without touching upon Sharp Objects, summer 2018’s HBO miniseries based on a Gillian Flynn novel of the same name, and Adams’ first major TV role. As fans of the 2006 book know, the story’s protagonist, Camille Preaker, is so multilayered that we need a new word for multilayered. And while the series, just like the novel, follows Camille’s investigation of a double murder in her hometown, it’s arguably Camille herself that becomes the story’s central mystery — all thanks to Adams’ delicate portrayal of the complicated reporter with a traumatic past.
With Camille, Adams took on a character of walking contradictions; she’s simultaneously good and bad, manipulative and trusting, hardened but broken. And when she came to life under Adams’ interpretation, one of Camille’s most notable characteristics was her seething anger bubbling just underneath the surface. It’s easy to dismiss Camille as “troubled,” or even unethical, but Adams’ unapologetic version of Flynn’s protagonist (complete with her withering eye contact, and those near-wordless transactions at the liquor store) forces us to reckon with our own flaws — a testament to the way the actress has mastered her craft.
Of course, Adams’ career is not solely defined by the recognizable titles of recent years, nor has she limited herself to films destined for awards-show greatness. And that’s part of her appeal. Even when she appears in movies like Leap Year or The Wedding Date, romantic comedies that some might brush off as frivolous fluff, she brings a certain chameleon-like approach to her roles. Like Streep, Kidman, and the rest of her double-Globe nominated cohort, Adams disappears into her characters, allowing audiences to forget they’re watching her and lose themselves in a story for a couple of hours. Perhaps it’s this skill that allows Adams to continue to grow her roster of impressive roles — and awards — without the noisy pop-culture fanfare that follows others of her ilk. (But seriously, if you haven’t seen Leap Year, add it to your list immediately.)
The bottom line? Amy Adams deserves all the awards, and then some. And if there’s a special crown, or a sash, or just a medal that reads “Queen of the Golden Globes” — well, she deserves those, too. As for this year’s Globes, given that Adams stands to win for two different roles, there's just one question remaining: Which cast gets to sit with her?