Sunday, December 19, 2010

Will Amy Adams Have a Happy (Oscar-Winning) New Year?

Amy Adams familiar cheer seems ideally suited to the holidays. It makes perfect sense that's she's all ornamented and mistletoed for Parade magazine. She's even sharing a pumpkin pie recipe. Or her people are. Whichever. We like the celebrity "they're just like us!" illusion from time to time so we're totally willing to pretend that she bakes this exact pumpkin pie herself.

Mmmmm pumpkin pie.

We fancy baking with Amy Adams at the moment because just this morning, rescreening The Fighter we caught the faint but unmistakable aroma of "Oscar win". Now it could be that our olfactory senses are failing us and the contest really is between Melissa Leo (The Fighter) and Jacki Weaver (Animal Kingdom), two cinematic moms more likely to devour their young than bake them pies, should both be nominated as is the semi-common wisdom. But suddenly we liked Amy's chances a lot more.

Why?

First, you have to consider that the Oscar race is still in its infancy. We have perceived frontrunners at this point but none are so much as official nominees yet. Ballots are sent out in one more week on Monday December 27th and a month later we hear the results. In other words, actors and actresses (and the actual films and performances of course) still have two months left to make their case that their names should be read on the nominee list and then be declared winner on Oscar night.

Helena, Melissa, Amy, Jacki, Hailee, Mila, Dianne & Barbara. Which
combo of 5 will it be?
Conventional wisdom says Helena, Melissa, Amy,
Mila & Jacki
but Oscar's list can sometimes surprise.
Second, Amy is 36 and quite famous. That's about the "right" age and career level for an Best Supporting Actress Oscar. Plus, the more often you're nominated and the more consecutive those nominations are, the more you start seeming "overdue" to the world and thus probably to the industry itself. (Should she be nominated for a third Oscar for The Fighter it'll be her third nomination in five years.) 'Overdue,' however ambiguous and debatable as a designation, can count for a lot if you're not pushy about it. Amy doesn't seem like the pushy type.

Third, Amy is employing that age old Oscar trick of playing against type. It's not (thankfully) a complete about face so it doesn't feel like a bald plea for prizes. Adams is still an enchanting dream girlfriend of sorts, but after the roles that made her so beloved - a naive pregnant chatterbox (Junebug), a naive musically animated heroine (Enchanted), a naive nun eager to believe the best about people (Doubt) -- that cynical been-around edge she brings to The Fighter's girlfriend Charlene Fleming, feels like enough of a revelation to count.

But mostly this newfound hunch that she could well be our Oscar winner comes from viewing The Fighter a second time. The manic energy and performative electricity of the "Alice & Dicky" (Melissa Leo & Christian Bale) pair is still remarkable and stormy. In a way Wahlberg's Micky Ward is the eye of this hurricane, the film's eerily quiet (some would say blank) center. Adam's Charlene, then, is the audience-surrogate character. She's the most universally relatable character and there to make us feel warmly towards and protective of the passive protagonist... and thus the film. Everyone who pays any attention knows that awards voters cherish a supportive girlfriend/spouse.

"I like my life."

And, most importantly, Adams absolutely delivers in her big "clip" moment, which happens to be The Fighter's emotional climax before it goes on to the easier narrative business of its true story sports triumph. (You can rewatch this scene on quicktime but I don't recommend doing so if you haven't seen the film yet; it's always best to see things in context.) In the scene she and Dicky have what amounts to a truce that still feels like a war as they attempt to force each other into confession... though neither of them actually confess so much as reluctantly acknowledge a vague failure at life. Charlene, a tough girl to the end, holds back tears but you can feel the survivalist hurt, especially when she bats away Dicky's question "What have you ever done with your life?" with a stubborn "I like my life. I like my life now Dicky."

What she likes is not her actual life so much as the life she's beginning to eke out with Micky, the one that she knows Alice & Dicky could take from her should she stumble.

One of the most fascinating things about The Fighter, though detractors might claim it a central flaw, is that the "hero" is not part of this very emotional climax. Much of the drama is what happens around him, and what's projected on to him by all the characters who claim him as their own. It's hard not to fall hard for Charlene when she ends this painful but optimistic truce scene with a foul-mouthed punchline, eager to regain the upper hand.

When people fall in love with a character, the actor embodying them often gets thrown in the ring, suddenly fighting for that heavyweight Oscar title.
*

44 comments:

Ángel Ramos said...

If she wins the Golden Globe, people could start to think about her as a winner, just what happens with Rachel Weisz.

City_Of_Lights said...

I just plain like Amy Adams. Haven't seen The Fighter and I don't know if I want to, but I would love to see her nominated. Yeah I'll even cop to enjoying Leap Year.

cal roth said...

Well, I could never find the post, but she was my best bet very early in this race, on account of timing only.

But supporting actress is tricky: people may fall in love with the little girl who has a leading role in a respected movie, like True Grit.

Sometimes they just can't resist.

Kurtis O said...

I'm all for an Adams win. I thought Bale and Leo were borderline unbearable in their over-the-top grotesqueness, but I relished watching Adams finally, FINALLY play against type. And what a surprise -- she killed it: "Why the f--k did you take me to this movie? I had to read the whole f--kin' movie." Yes! Yes! More curses Amy, give me more curses! And yank on a sideshow sister's Aqua Net coif while you're at it!

the good dytopian said...

I liked both Melissa Leo and Amy Adams in The Fighter, but I personally thought Leo made Alice seem a more complicated character. I agree the audience will connect more to Adams's Charlene who speaks for Mark's Micky on behalf of the audience when the Alice-Dicky duo seem to be taking advantage of Mark's passive nature (but then, after all, was Charlene not trying to take a bit of control over Mark's decisions as well?) Anyways, I think a major part of the reason Charlene seems more relatable was that Leo played Alice so convincingly as an overbearing mother who at the same time shows her soft side. But yeah considering the factors you mentioned Adams looks like a strong Oscar contender lol

Walter L. Hollmann said...

If only my Fighter girls could tie! I'm a fan of both performances and would be hard-pressed to pick a favorite. I feel that both should already be winners for 2008, so no matter which one gets the Oscar, I'll be happy.

TB said...

In my ideal world she would have already have picked a statue up in 2005 for Junebug...not to mention she'd have grabbed a nomination in 2007 for Enchanted instead of the oopsies nod they gave her the next year for Doubt.

/3rtfu11 said...

Pre Supporting Actress 2010 and their Oscar Winning Others

Mila Kunis – Marisa Tomei
Barbara Hershey – Maureen Stapleton
Winona Ryder – Lee Grant

--

I’ve said this before if Adams wins Supporting Actress off to Never-Never Land she goes. I like her enough to want for her a Best Actress win for the Janis bio film.

Mike M. said...

Preference seems to be equally split between the two Fighter women, which could spell trouble for their Oscar chances. Unless one starts monopolizing the televised awards, they could both lose, especially since Bale seems poised to give the film an acting win.

Flynn said...

Agreed, I think the Oscar 5 will be Amy, Melissa, Mila, Helena, and Jackie. And I really like Amy or Helena for the Oscar. HBC hasn't been nominated as many times as Amy but she's well known enough in Hollywood to have that same "overdue" feeling.

James said...

This article makes me really happy. I had a feeling she could upset for the Oscar. She has picked up a few (very minor) critics awards recently but still some wins none the less. She could easily get a boost from the Golden Globes or the SAG and find herself a winner.

IslandLiberal said...

Interesting to consider that if Adams (or Leo, for that matter) win along with the now-looking-likely Christian Bale win, it will be the first film to score multiple acting Oscars since fellow boxing drama "Million Dollar Baby" in 2004.

Vince in WeHo said...

Good argument. I thought the Academy was going to throw Helena Bonham-Carter a Career Oscar for her supposedly underwhelming work in "Speech," but I guess Adams is something to consider ...

She was good, but not as good as Leo. Kunis was good, also, as was Hershey. And Wiest was simply amazing in her austere performance. And if we go on performance, I'd give it to Wiest. (haven't seen Animal Kingdom or King's Speech)

AnthonyDC said...

Though well-deserved, "Oscar nominee Mila Kunis" still has a weird ring to it.

TB said...

@AnthonyDC not as weird as Best Supporting Actress nominee Hailee Steinfield. So wrong in so many ways.

Evan said...

This article has perfect timing-- I get back from a screening of "The Fighter" to see it at the top of the blog.

At times, the movie was unbearable... it's hard to believe that the character of Micky came from a family as godawful as the one shown in the movie. Leo is so evil that it makes you question the veracity of the film and so over-the-top that it makes you feel like you're being taken for a ride.

I totally agree with the blog posting that Adams played a big role in reassuring us that Micky was in fact a "good guy." But that said, while it was nice not to see someone as histrionic or Oscar-baity as Melissa Leo, I was very cognizant that I was watching Adams playing against type.

In short, Leo took me too far into her character, Adams didn't take me quite enough into hers.

Without having seen Jackie Weaver, Helena Bonham-Carter or Dianne Wiest, I'm really not impressed with this year's crop of Supporting Actresses.

NATHANIEL R said...

I'm still totally confused by the nomination love for Mila Kunis recently. I liked her in the movie but i. don't. get. it.

and i've tried to get it.

Rick said...

nat,

I am right with you on the Mila nom ... she was good, but not a difficult role that 100 other actresses couldn't have done... The Fighter is next on our list to see.

/3rtfu11 said...

I'm still totally confused by the nomination love for Mila Kunis recently. I liked her in the movie but i. don't. get. it.

and i've tried to get it.


And the Oscar goes to Mila Kunis for Black Swan the audience applauses, Nathaniel transcribes reaction in disbelief.

is that so wrong? said...

I'm still totally baffled that Barbara Hershey hasn't scored any traction but Mila Kunis has.... it's a no-brainer there on which of the two is using real chops to create a killer performance. Maybe there are too many "monster moms" crowding the field this year? I'd like to think that Hershey's Oscar history would work in her favor....

I'm still crossing my fingers for her. It'd be too disappointing for Oscar to nominate the wrong supporting actress in the same movie.

Mike said...

I love the way this race (my favorite category) is shaping up to be anyone's to win. If the SAG and Globes split, it will likely stay a surprise till the end, particularly since all likely candidates are in movies with a likely Best Actor, Actress or Supporting Actor. There's no Swinton-Michael Clayton to reward a popular movie they fear will go unrewarded.

Dusty said...

IDK. I figure this one is Helena Bonham Carter's to lose. She's been a shoe-in the longest and is in a likely BP frontrunner (though the Fighter is gaining steam). She also has the benefit of being Alice in Wonderland's (and most Burton films') redeeming quality. Two big movies in one year? Is the nomination reward enough? May the Academy worry she'll retreat back into roles as witches and other villains for another twenty years and this'll be their only chance to recognize her?

Ha. She hasn't even been nominated yet.

Taylor said...

The question of Kunis vs. Hershey seems to come down to the roles themselves. What did Hershey have to play besides crazed overbearing mother? She does a fantastic job with it of course (she is Barbara Hershey after all), but there aren't really any layers built into the character for her to play. She lives through her daughter and she's scary. What else does the character offer the actress?

Kunis's role actually is something of a balancing act so that she can fulfill everything the script needs her to fulfill. She has to be sexy and relaxed while appearing suspicious enough to freak out Nina while being supportive enough to make those end scenes of congratulations believable AND she has to do all of this while simultaneously making everything she does part of a seamless character. It's deceptively difficult, and she makes it seem easy.

But that's not why she's getting those nominations. She's getting nominations because she is hot and because she and Natalie Portman have some hot sex.

Julian Stark said...

I just saw Black Swan and The Fighter and honestly don't know which of the three supposed locks (Adams, Kunis, Leo) will win, though I think it's definitely between those three.

Part of me thinks it'll go to Adams, but another thinks that Kunis will win. The Academy obviously wants to award Adams and might see this as the perfect opportunity to do so, but seven of the ten previous Supporting Actress winners took the gold for first-time nominations...

Is this going to be 2007 all over again? If so, that'd be really frustrating but consequently exciting.

Will said...

I'm really really really hoping she wins the Oscar. I immediately fell in love with her on Enchanted.

par3182 said...

Plus, the more often you're nominated and the more consecutive those nominations are, the more you start seeming "overdue" to the world and thus probably to the industry itself

let's ask glenn close how that worked out...

but i'm with you on an amy win

NATHANIEL R said...

par -- well obvs Glenn is the exception but this cross-year momentum tactic usually works for people. :)

Anonymous said...

In terms of this discussion, I think it's too easy to leave out HBC. I think we need to remember that EVERYONE votes on the acting categories, not just actors. So "easier" roles may still win favor.

And since Alice in Wonderland gets so much attention in the visual categories, for whatever reason, as well as Harry Potter, I could see those people being beholden to HBC - thus giving her the win for a "year of work" for those two films and Speech, whether that's warranted or not.

TB said...

But is anyone citing Helena as best of the year? Certainly no one is saying that she's doing her own personal best work. Leo has got the traction on both of those points, and Adams is working her way there. I feel like this will turn into a race between The Fighter gals, with maybe Jackie Weaver or Diane Weist as the spoilers.

joe burns said...

I agree with Angel Ramos, I think the globe could get her chances up..

Yonatan said...

I've seen The Fighter and I really like Amy Adams, one day she's gonna win an Oscar, but it won't be this year.
When two supporting actresses are nominated for the same film, like Adams and Melissa Leo [will be], in the very few occassions that one wins, it's the one with the bigger role: Zeta-Jones over Latifah for Chicago, Wiest over Tilly for Bullets Over Broadway, Lange over Garr for Tootsie, Streep over Alexander in Kramer vs. Kramer, O'Neal over Khan for Paper Moon. And Leo's role is bigger (and flashier, which doesn't make it better, of course).
I think Christian Bale's gonna be the movie's only Oscar win.
And if she'll be nominated, I think Hailee Steinfeld will win, yes, for supporting (just like Waltz and Bardem).

mrripley said...

I mrripley have said from january 2010 it will be amy adams,just check.

Glenn said...

Nathaniel, it's the idea that if you love a movie you have to love everything about it and consider every single aspect of it to be 100% brilliant and perfect. Must receive 13 nominations including one for every category and the love for the movie must cloud every single judgment one has for any other performance or technical aspect.

Amanda said...

I used to think that if Natalie wins, they would reward someone older in supporting. They will already have onde princess winning, who will be young, hot (Natalie is a lot more than hot, she has one of the most beautiful faces of our time), cute, sentimental, weepy and sweet. Therefore, they could award someone older, thougher, with a diferente personality and achieve some balance between media princess and veteran thespian.

But I might be wrong. Two years ago it was Winslet and Cruz, who both the same age- but I don't see them as "princesses" types, and Kate is well, Kate, the greatest aactress of her generation, one of the greatest of our time - of all times maybe- had a very strong year and had already lost what, six, seven times?

It is funny though to think that both Cruz and Winslet are younger than Adams.

Last year it was Bullock and Monique- no princesses there as well-Bullock is a media power house, uber likeable, extremely nice, warm, approachable, relatable and bankable, above all, but she was over fourty and is too good humoured to be a "princess"in the Portman/Hathaway sense- they take themselves waaaay too seriously.

cal roth said...

I haven't even seen the movie, but I can't stop feeling this Tatum O'Neal vibe.

Amanda said...

Then again, how could they not reward Monique last year? One of the greatest performances of the last decade by far!

Amanda said...

Cal Roth, there's Anna Paquin....

cal roth said...

I don't know how to explain, but the kid ina leading/co-leading role always win: Paquin, Duke, O'Neal. If you're a kid and your role is really supporting, you lose (Breslin).

NATHANIEL R said...

Glenn -- you're probably right but i've just never been able to sign on to that. I like movies as whole objects but when it comes time to reward their individual parts, I like to separate 'em.

Otherwise why not have a "best picture" prize only and be done with it.

Cal -- which is one of the reasons I do not want her nominated at all (Hailee). I think a good measure of whether a performance is truly excellent and deserving of its awards is if we put in its correct category. Is Hailee's performance (able and promising) one of the 5 best leading actress turns this year.

The answer is a simple and obvious NO so since people like her performance (why not? it's good) they just say "we'll reward her in supporting!" totally forgetting that that means you have to shut out someone more deserving in supporting (i.e. an actual supporting performer who only has 5 to 30 minutes to tell you everything about their character, not 2 hours)

I'm sorry i keep harping on this but it's just so wrong to give the absolute lead of a movie, a space in the supporting race when you yourself wouldn't even nominate her as Best Lead Actress. And honestly i don't think any of these people giving her awards would name her superior to PORTMAN, BENING, LAWRENCE, KIDMAN and the rest.

TB -- i think you're right. it'll end up being fighter vs. fighter... (although the chance of indecisino and a surprise win is there)

BillBill said...

So I loved "The Fighter." I'm pretty much expecting BP/BD nods and Christian Bale to win best supporting actor. As for Melissa Leo and Amy Adams, both will be nodded, but I'm not sure if either one can win outright. Mark Wahlberg was surprisingly great and at his most understated. But how could he not with all that was around him here? I'll see this one again in theaters before it ends its run.

Anonymous said...

omg I got the biggest smile on my face seeing this article! yes Adams is going to WIN the Oscar this year in Best Supporting Actress. and she will win the Globe! Helena and Mila will ride the wave, and Leo is being rewarded now to clear the way for Adams. and who knows who the 5 slot will go to but I agree with Nat - PLEASE no Hailee. Jacki or Dianne or Barbara.

Kay said...

Nat,
I am so relieved that you feel that way about Kunis and her performance. Yes, she filled the role and did what she needed to do but I just do not understand where she's getting this buzz and the nominations. Sex scene with Portman? Possibly and most likely. They do like sexy. Hershey was better, IMO.

I just hope Supporting Actress will be between Leo and Adams with Adams taking the Oscar (though, I would like her to win for Best Actress someday...) Leo was transforming and Adams just tells so much with her eyes.

adri said...

I haven't seen The Fighter yet, but I want Amy Adams to win an Oscar for a LEAD role, not a supporting role.

If Adams wins here, it seems like it doesn't matter what great work she does in the future, she'll be passed over, because she's already been rewarded. (like /3rtfu11 said).

Amir said...

i don't know.
on the one hand, i'd love to see her win a lead oscar,
on the other, i watched the film today and i think she's every single bit deserving of the win.
she's just terrific in this film.