Nocturnal Animals Nocturnal Animals

Five times Amy Adams nearly won an Oscar

After five unsuccessful nominations, could Arrival or Nocturnal Animals nab Adams an Academy Award in 2017?

By Kate Solomon


There would have been rioting in the streets had Leonardo DiCaprio not taken home the Best Actor Oscar on February 28th this year. Not because it was a given that he was the best actor, but because he’d been nominated so many times (four) without winning an Academy Award.


Four unsuccessful nominations is bad enough but spare a thought for the excellent Amy Adams, who’s been up for an Oscar five times so far without any wins. Could 2017 be her year? There’s a good chance – the Oscar buzz around her two current releases is so strong it’d give a swarm of bees a run for their money.


The first is Nocturnal Animals, out now; a smart, stylish story-within-a-story thriller in which Adams plays Susan, an elegant gallerist whose life is thrown into turmoil when her ex-husband inexplicably sends her a violent book he’s written. Directed by Tom Ford, it’s exactly the kind of complex, noirish film that wins Oscars and Amy’s chilling, existentially-confused performance is one of the best among a stellar cast.

Then there’s sci-fi masterpiece Arrival, out now, with Adams dazzling critics as a linguist looking for a way to communicate with aliens who have landed their ships all over the globe. It’s sci-fi, but it’s also about grief and emotion, and how we connect with one another – all weighty subjects that the Academy just loves.


But since Adams has had great hopes before, let’s take a look at the five times she nearly – but not quite – won:

American Hustle

What got her nominated?
Playing Sydney Prosser, a glamorous, schemingly seductive partner to Christian Bale’s con-man.

What was the buzz?
Adams “played [Sydney] with a gleam of pure self-harming passion” according to the Guardian, but the New York Times nailed it when it ran the following: “with her bright eyes and alabaster gleam, Ms. Adams can look like a porcelain doll, a deceptive mien that helps complicate Sydney and turns an unpredictable character into a thrillingly wild one.”

And the winner was...
The 2013 award for Best Actress went to Cate Blanchett for Blue Jasmine.

The Master

What got her nominated?
A fairly small but essential role in Paul Thomas Anderson’s psychological scientology origin story, Adams played Peggy Dodd, the wife of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s charismatic cult leader.

What was the buzz?
“Unexpected fireworks come from Amy Adams as Peggy Dodd,” according to Screenrant, which also noted that her innocent looks belied the steely fanaticism of her character. Her performance was “quietly devastating”, said Rolling Stone.

And the winner was...
Adams lost to Anne Hathaway who won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for Les Misérables.

The Fighter

What got her nominated?
Playing a tough, sexy barmaid named Charlene whose boyfriend is struggling to become a professional boxer.

What was the buzz?
“She carries the part as much through her body as her lines,” the Guardian said of her performance, while another review from the paper praised the ensemble cast: “Bale, Leo and Adams have rightly received Oscar nominations and this is indeed an actors' film that draws its power and moral energy from the interaction of this ensemble.”

And the winner was...
Amy’s co-star Melissa Leo won the 2010 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.


What got her nominated
In this bleak but stylish religio-thriller, Amy played naive young Sister James who suspects a priest of carrying on an inappropriate relationship with one of her pupils.

What was the buzz?
“Amy Adams has several excellent scenes as Sister James, a young woman of transparent integrity,” the Guardian said, while MTV agreed: “Watch the scene where Meryl Streep coaxes the truth out of Adams. It's a seduction, a dance really.”

And the winner was...
The 2008 Oscar for Best Supporting Actress went to Penelope Cruz for Vicky Cristina Barcelona.


What got her nominated?
Amy played Ashley, a heavily pregnant young woman who becomes firm friends with her husband’s brother’s new bride.

What was the buzz?
Roger Ebert adored the film, and spoke highly of “a scene of incredible power between Ashley and her brother-in-law, in which we see that Ashley truly is good, and brave, and sweeter than peaches.” The New York Times was similarly enamoured, saying “Adams's incandescent Ashley floods the movie with a heartbreaking sweetness and warmth.”

And the winner was…
The Constant Gardener’s Rachel Weisz beat Amy to the award for Best Supporting Actress.

Get times and tickets for Nocturnal Animals and Arrival