ByElise Jost, writer at
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Elise Jost

Every year, the reveal of the nominations — and later the winners — is bound to leave a few disappointed, both in the audience and among those who worked tirelessly to create a movie. But even though we're mostly ready to accept the Academy's choices as well-informed and trend-setting decisions, some omissions just feel too unfair to not point an accusing finger at the jury.

If there's one name that the majority was expecting to see on the Academy's list this year, it's 's. Not only has she already proven in the past that she's one of the most talented actresses of her generation, but she's headlined two excellent movies in 2016 — Tom Ford's glamorous thriller and Denis Villeneuve's eerie science-fiction tale .

Her performances carry both stories, so how could she not make the cut?

'Nocturnal Animals' Showcases Adams's Perfect Sense Of Elegance

Nocturnal Animals wasn't unanimously praised by critics, whether they felt it didn't live up to the expectations raised by Ford's wonderful first film, A Single Man, or rejected the disturbing violence that unfolds around Adams's character. Still, Michael Shannon scored a Supporting Actor nomination for his turn as Bobby Andes, which makes it feel even more shocking that Adams's work didn't get the same recognition.

Her portrayal of Susan Morrow, an art gallery owner whose ex-husband sends her the draft of a puzzling and dangerous novel, is sleek and subtle. Ford's glamorous and dark universe fits her like a glove, which will come as no surprise to those who've followed how often she wears Ford's designs on the red carpet.

Adams Is The Central Force Of 'Arrival'

Amy Adams in 'Arrival' [Credit: Sony Pictures]
Amy Adams in 'Arrival' [Credit: Sony Pictures]

And then you look at Arrival, where Adams plays the linguistics expert Dr. Louise Banks, and it's even more striking how much talent and versatility she possesses. Gone are the femme fatale makeup and the outfits of an affluent artist, Banks is a woman with little consideration for material possessions. Her passion for language and her dedication to figuring out the truth make her the beating heart of Arrival, and Adams delivers a stunning performance mixing motherly love, bossy confidence and occasional helplessness.

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Even her character's role in the movie is all about how the story couldn't have happened without her — a woman among men, an academic in the military, her disruptive approach is what saves everyone else from running straight into the wall. Unfortunately, the beauty of this metaphor didn't land with the Academy, since Arrival was nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, Best Production Design, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Film Editing.

This list of nominations for the movie feels so incomplete without Adams's name that director didn't release the usual message of gratitude that is expected from the lucky nominees, pointing out instead that Adams was "the heart and soul of the movie."

There Could Be Plenty Of Reasons For Adams's Snub — Or None

'Arrival' [Credit: Sony Pictures]
'Arrival' [Credit: Sony Pictures]

We'll never know for certain why Adams wasn't deemed good enough for the Oscars this year. It's possible that she was just second on everybody's list, and when you look at the other actresses that were selected, it'd actually be hard to decide which one should have left her spot to Adams. Emma Stone, Isabelle Huppert, Natalie Portman, Meryl Streep and Ruth Negga are all strong contenders who deserve the recognition.

With two brilliant performances, it could be that Adams competed against herself, leading the Academy to ignore both rather than having to decide between them. Or we could imagine that the jury wanted to avoid letting a handful of movies dominate the competition — and with La La Land taking home a record 14 nominations, the spot for "front runner in all categories" was already taken.

Can You Be Too Subtle For The Oscars?

More than strategic decisions by the Academy, however, it might be a question of taste, the snub of Adams's performances suggesting that these subtle and quiet roles aren't really Oscars material. Though subtlety is exactly what made her characters so compelling, her approach isn't anything like the flashy and dramatic outbursts that tend to take center stage in the race. There's no radical physical transformation that'd require her to lose a dangerous amount of weight; no grandiose scene where she explodes, producing tailor-made for GIFs and reaction shots and a multitude of montages in its wake.

Instead, Morrow quietly stares, and Banks whispers and observes, and at times drowns in silent moments of panic. In Arrival, Adams is at her best, her big eyes more expressive than ever, her composure a calm and grounded force against the nervousness of the soldiers and the stress filling the air. We know her face well by now, yet each time she feels radically different. Is this kind of internal transformation not flamboyant enough to put on display at the Oscars?

If it's any consolation, Adams isn't the first actress to see her winning moment escape her again and again. Whether it's Leonardo DiCaprio, Julianne Moore or Kate Winslet, sometimes the alignment of the stars just isn't right — and we know that Adams certainly has many more exceptional roles to come.

Were you disappointed to see Amy Adams snubbed by the Oscars this year? Who else do you think should have made the cut?


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