Who is the best actress right now, at this moment in cinematic history? Who has the hot hand, is in the zone, and is operating at the peak of their craft— putting out consistent and varied work demonstrating the highest level of artistry.
It is a subjective question—to a certain extent. But there are objective measurements to gauge the impact an actor is having; reviews, award nominations, and yes popularity. Are the films resonating more with audiences because of what this performer brings to the table in terms of craft? Is there a varied range among the characters? Is each role distinct? Are each of the characters created unique and separate from the others.
Then there is the most basic test—the eyeball test. Anyone who watches a lot of film knows a great performance when they see it. There is something all the great ones have, something that captures our imagination and makes us want to see them again and again—because we know they will always deliver and we will leave the theater emotionally satisfied and have no regrets for the time and money spent.
The answer to the question posed in the headline above is Amy Adams. Yes, Amy Adams—she is gifted, beautiful, edgy, mysterious, beguiling, magical, and sexy. As “American Hustle” proves, she can even be dark. Amy Adams is the best actress on the planet right now. This is not a hard case to make.
Let’s start with the awards.
Four Academy Award nominations for Best Supporting Actress; “Junebug” (2005), “Doubt” (2008), “The Fighter” (2010), “The Master” (2012). Three BAFTA nominations; “Doubt” (2008), “The Fighter” (2010), “The Master” (2012). Five Golden Globe Nominations; “Enchanted” (2007) Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy, Best Supporting Actress for “Doubt” (2008), “The Fighter” (2010), “The Master” (2012), and this year for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy for “American Hustle”. Those listed here are just the highlights.
There are more—a lot more including six Screen Actors Guild Award nominations and over sixty critics’ awards nominations with more than a dozen wins. Amy is a heavy favorite to win the Golden Globe this year and one of the top Oscar contenders for Best Actress.
Okay, those are the statistics to back it up. What about the intangibles?
The enormous range of the characters Amy has inhabited and brought to life is staggering. Is there any other actress who could be Gisselle from “Enchanted”, Sister James from “Doubt”, Julia Powell in “Julia& Julia”, Charlene Fleming in “The Fighter” and Sidney Prosser in “American Hustle”.
Amy Adams has wonderful storytelling instincts and a keen sense for great material. She has been directed by Steven Spielberg (“Catch Me If You Can” 2002) and Paul Thomas Anderson (“The Master” 2012). She has shared the screen with Meryl Streep (“Doubt” 2008), Clint Eastwood (“Trouble with the Curve” 2012), Christian Bale (“American Hustle” 2013), and the Muppets (“The Muppets” 2011).
She brought an animated character to life, literally, in a way no nobody else ever could have done in the magical master work “Enchanted” (2007). Her body of work since 2005 has been mind-blowing in its volume, variety, and brilliance. She shined in the 2009 quirky, independent comedy “Sunshine Cleaning” and gave a method-like, gritty performance in “The Fighter” (2010).
Her warm, bold, captivating performance as Lois Lane in “Man of Steel” saved that film from sinking into a noisy, over-produced mess once Kevin Costner was off the screen. Her scintillating, dark, complex and wickedly effective work in “American Hustle” is searing itself into the minds of moviegoers and will continue to be a talked about performance in the ever-growing body of impressive work of unforgettable characters that she has forged into the modern cinema and pop culture landscape.
Enchanting, funny, warm, tough, unpredictable, versatile, deep, surprising, and always captivating—Amy Adams is the best actress working in Hollywood today.