In January, Amy Adams received her fourth Academy Award nomination for her supporting role in The Master. This is an impressive statistic for any actor, but when you consider the fact that Adams’ first Oscar nomination, for 2005’s Junebug, was only eight years ago, it’s downright astonishing. Well, at least I think so – in the several weeks since the nominations were announced, I haven’t read a single article that’s given this remarkable feat more than a parenthetical acknowledgement. Critics and bloggers have gone on and on about the significance of Quvenzhané Wallis’ first nomination and Christoph Waltz’ second, but barely any notice has been given to Adams’ incredible achievement. Four nominations in eight years, and yet no one seems to care. What gives?
It can’t be that people don’t realize that Amy Adams is talented. Obviously, the Academy recognizes her abilities, having honored her so many times, and in critics’ reviews of her films, her performances are often singled out and acclaimed. Yet for some reason, despite all this, Amy Adams has remained relatively under Hollywood’s radar. This isn’t to say that she’s ignored, of course. When she’s nominated for an award, she’s judged and analyzed just as much as any of her competitors. Yet after the Oscars, unlike many of her peers, any prior acknowledgment of Adams’ acting abilities seems to fade from critics’ memories.
Adams is far from the only talented but underrated actor out there – there’s Judy Greer, J.K. Simmons, and Allison Janney, to name a few - but she’s probably one of the most high-profile, which makes her case all the more interesting. Unlike the others, she’s a bona-fide celebrity. People Magazine regularly covers her shopping trips and Red Carpet fashion; on Wikipedia, her page is as extensive as any other A-list star. Yet when it comes to her acting, Hollywood seems to only recognize her for her individual performances, not her body of work as a whole. And that’s a real shame.
In fourteen years, Adams has had roles in thirty-two movies, with four more to be released by the end of 2013. To put this in perspective, Tom Cruise has been in thirty-eight films, and he’s been working since 1981. Add in guest spots on ten TV shows, including a recurring role on The Office, and Adams’ career seems unbelievably impressive. In a relatively short amount of time, she has established herself as one of Hollywood’s most talented, versatile actresses, with film roles as diverse as a hardened bartender in The Fighter and a naïve princess in Enchanted. She’s played a nun in Doubt, a blogger in Julie and Julia, and one half of a crime scene cleanup crew in Sunshine Cleaning. Later this year, she’ll be the Lois Lane to Henry Cavill’s Superman in Man of Steel, an iconic role in an even more iconic franchise. There seems to be nothing Adams can’t do, no role she’s unfit to play, and yet to the critics of Hollywood, this hardly seems to register.
I don’t believe that this can be blamed on her gender. While there’s no question that the film industry is filled with sexism, other actresses with somewhat similar career paths, such as Maggie Gyllenhaal or Helen Hunt, have received proper amounts of critical attention. I doubt it’s annoyance towards her looks or personality; Adams is as pretty as any other Hollywood actress, with red hair that makes her more distinct than most, and from interviews, she comes across as intelligent and humble. No, the fact that Adams is a woman seems to have little to do with her being underrated. Maybe it’s because of her choice in movies. Despite a career filled with wonderful parts, Adams has made a few poor choices. Over the years, she’s starred in the rom-com flop Leap Year, the Will Ferrell vehicle Talladega Nights, and most recently, the critically panned Trouble With the Curve. Still, the vast majority of her film roles have been impressive, and three bad movies shouldn’t be enough to derail an otherwise high quality career.
I think the reason is that Adams isn’t enough of anything. She’s pretty, but in a familiar, girl-next door way. She’s a celebrity, but she’s stayed clear of scandals and the covers of tabloids. She’s thirty-eight, which puts her right in the middle of the two age groups of actresses: the very young and the very “mature.” Her performances are acclaimed, but her Oscar nominations have all been for supporting roles, not leads. Amy Adams, it seems, while perfectly talented, is destined to fly under the radar as long as she continues to keep working and live a normal life. This isn’t a bad thing; like I said earlier, critics aren’t ignoring her, and four nominations is nothing to laugh at. I just wish, though, that she got more recognition for her career as a whole, when after just fourteen years, it’s proved to be exceptional.
This article was originally posted on TheReelist.com