Friday, January 24, 2014

Best Actress 2013: Amy Adams in American Hustle

Amy Adams received her 5th Oscar nomination (Her first in Best Actress!) for playing Sydney Prosser/Edith Greensly in American Hustle.

When Adams was being touted as the person to bump off Meryl (Or Emma) as the 5th Best Actress nominee this year ,  she seemed to be  gaining a lot of momentum, perhaps enough to unseat Cate at the Oscars. But now I think her  buzz was more  about  snubbing Meryl then about actually winning.  Cate is nearly unstoppable at this point and it would take massive buzz, as well as winning the BAFTA to make Adams the frontrunner.  She'll win someday , but just not yet.

American Hustle is a great film. It's brilliantly directed by David O. Russell and the film is enormously entertaining and filled with such visual detail (Not to mention the music Russell uses!) that it is truly a terrific movie experience. The script's seams do show though: I think it should have been reworked to make all the interactions between the characters make more sense.  The pace of the film is wonderful, but sometimes, you wish it could give the plot time to simmer down a little bit.

Adams plays Sydney Prosser, who we first see as a young woman meeting  Irving (Christian Bale)for the first time.  The first thing that I noticed about this performance is how subtle Adams is.  The rest of the character's get juicy, very dramatic scenes, but Adams uses her face and onscreen presensense to create this character.  It's a beautifully subtle performance that Adams excels in.  She is really playing multiple roles here and the radiance that she brings to Edith is truly  perfect. You can tell that Sydney enjoys the confidence and status that Edith's persona gives her, much more then who she used to be, and Adams injects Edith with so much radiance, magnetism, as well sexiness, not just with her words and actions, but with her body. The way Adams holds herself and all of the ticks that she adds to the character are brilliant.

Adams also shows her strength as a dramatic actress in her scenes with Christian Bale.  Adams is truly fantastic here, making us see her love for him as well how much he makes her feel better about herself. When's she angry with him, wanting him to pay attention to her and wanting her to be happy, she is a force to be reckoned with. Her scenes with Jennifer Lawrence (Who is superb by the way) are truly great to watch  too.

The only problem and perhaps the greatest strength of the performance is this: Her character is a constant enigma.  Is she really in love with Irving or is she manipulating him? Is she in love with Ritchie (Bradley Cooper) or is she really using him for the sake of possibly needing him in the future? Or is she doing it for her own sake? I guess we never really know, even by the end of the film, but Adams make us keep guessing throughout.   It's something that works about the performance, but I also think doesn't work because the script doesn't know what to do with the character at some points, or rather we don't get enough hints about who Sydney Prosser is and what she wants. Her Edith is wonderful and I understand that Sydney is a pathetic character whose playing Edith is really her own way of being confident, but I think that if there had been more scenes with her as Sydney, more chances to develop her background and her truth, that the roles of both Sydney and Edith would have made a lot  more sense. Perhaps Adams could have worked a little harder on bridging the gaps, but I think it is really the script's fault.

It's a very minor complaint though because Adams pulls off a fantastic, beautifully done performance that, to me, is the best she's ever done.  She gets


Louis Morgan said...

Her performance barely registered with me, and it did not help that her character was pretty superfluous in the third act.

Also her British accent needed to be a little stronger, if she was suppose to completely fool Cooper's character like it was written.

joe burns said...

I wish we could agree ):

But still, at least you liked Bale a little better then the rest.

I'm excited to see your reviews on Dern and Leo! I really want to see Nebraska soon!