Total Recall: Amy Adams' Best Movies
We count down the best-reviewed work of the Leap Year star.
Ten years ago, the only people that knew who Amy Adams was were either members of her family or folks who spent too much time reading the Drop Dead Gorgeous credits. Today? She's one of Hollywood's fastest rising stars, with a pair of Oscar nominations under her belt and a growing reputation for enlivening even the most pedestrian fare. If you've ever seen one of Adams' movies, the reasons for her speedy ascent should be obvious: With dramatic chops, sharp comic timing, and looks that work equally well for character roles and glamorous leads, she's a casting director's dream. And if you haven't seen any of her films, don't fret -- with her latest, the romantic comedy Leap Year, reaching theaters this weekend, we thought now would be a great time to look back on her filmography, Total Recall style!
Poor Hilary Swank. She slaved over her labor-of-love Amelia Earhart biopic, Amelia, only to find her carefully considered portrayal of the iconic pilot overshadowed by a decidedly less serious Amelia. At 44 percent on the Tomatometer, Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian isn't anyone's idea of a critical darling, but it beats Amelia's 21 percent -- and critics almost unanimously agreed that the best thing about Smithsonian's ungainly second helping of magically animated museum exhibits was Amy Adams as the thrillseeking sidekick who helps Larry Daley (Ben Stiller) defeat the army of Kahmunrah (Hank Azaria). As Christian Toto of What Would Toto Watch? wrote in his mostly negative review, "The best, and possibly only, reason to watch Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian is the enchanting Amy Adams."
If you're going to film a quirky indie comedy about a cheerleader-turned-hardworking single mom who decides to clean crime scenes for a living so she can send her son to private school, you could hardly find a better person for the role than Amy Adams. And while critics carped that the Christine Jeffs-directed Sunshine Cleaning was ultimately a little too burdened down with quirky indie cliches to achieve its full potential, they had nothing but kind words to say about Adams (as well as Emily Blunt, who played her not-so-sunny sister). Time Out's David Jenkins reflected the opinions of many of his peers when he wrote, "Jeffs makes a good fist of the direction and Blunt proves that she can do comedy, but it's Adams's comforting, charismatic central turn which really gives the film its lift."
For a year after getting her first big break in Catch Me If You Can, Adams remained unemployed, which might help explain why, after her critically hailed work in Junebug, she didn't wait for another script with heavy arthouse appeal; instead, she opted for a trio of projects with a more, um, populist bent. The less said about The Ex and Underdog the better, but with 2006's Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, Adams received her first real opportunity to display her talent for daffy comedy -- and do it opposite the king of the doofus, Will Ferrell, in the movie that Nick Schager of Lessons of Darkness described as "an astute cultural satire masquerading as an infectiously stupid-silly lark -- or, perhaps, it's the other way around."
Two biopics in one, Nora Ephron's Julie & Julia interwove the tales of culinary legend Julia Child (Meryl Streep) and author Julie Powell (Adams), tracing Child's early career alongside Powell's decision to launch a blog dedicated to her attempt to spend a year cooking every recipe in Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Inviting direct comparison to Meryl Streep isn't something most young actresses would be comfortable doing -- and in fact, most critics did single out Streep's performance, although that had more to do with Child's famously winsome disposition than any flaws in Adams' work. As David Edwards of the UK's Daily Mirror wrote, "While both actresses deserve credit, it's Streep who dominates and deserves to be put in contention for her third Oscar. Deftly playing the dotty masterchef -- complete with a brilliantly squawking laugh -- it's an amusing but respectful imitation."
It might have languished in various stages of development for almost 70 years, but once Winifred Watson's novel finally arrived in theaters, it proved to be worth the wait, if for no other reason than to provide a charmingly frothy showcase for its two stars. Frances McDormand stars as the titular Miss Pettigrew, an unsuccessful nanny who, realizing she's about to be fired by her temp agency, snags an assignment meant for another employee -- and thus finds herself in the wild and wonderful world of rising starlet Delysia Lafosse (Adams). It's a role that calls for an actress with enough bubbly charm to make you believe she can not only inspire the love of three very different men, but change the world of a profoundly disillusioned woman in a single day -- and Adams pulled it off, as attested by critics like Margaret Pomeranz of At the Movies, who wrote, "This delicious froth of an entertainment could have creaked all over the place and at times you feel it does, but Amy Adams is just magic, she lifts every role she takes on to absolutely delightful heights."