Now that summer is behind us, it's time to go full steam ahead into the fall movie season, and you know what that means: the 2017 Oscar race is officially underway. Who will take home trophies during February's ceremony? That's a question that pundits are already attempting to answer. The Best Actress race in particular seems to be one of the most competitive in years, with the likes of Annette Bening (20th Century Women), Viola Davis (Fences), Natalie Portman (Jackie), Emma Stone (La La Land), and Meryl Streep (Florence Foster Jenkins) in the mix. But the category just got, if possible, even more stacked with the release of the first Nocturnal Animals trailer. Could this be the movie that finally lands Amy Adams her first Academy Award?
Adams made her feature film debut in 1999 with the hilarious comedy Drop Dead Gorgeous, but it wasn't until 2005 that she really burst onto the scene thanks to her strong performance in the indie film Junebug, which earned Adams her first Supporting Actress nomination. In the 11 years since, she has earned four more Oscar noms, three in Supporting — for Doubt (2008), The Fighter (2010), and The Master (2012) — and one in the Lead category — for American Hustle (2013). Those five total nods make Adams one of the most-nominated performers in Oscar history to have never won an award.
This could be the year that finally changes, thanks to Nocturnal Animals. The film is only the second made by Tom Ford — yes, the world-famous fashion designer — who directed his last leading performer, Colin Firth, to an Oscar nomination in his 2009 directorial debut A Single Man. Ford's sophomore effort is based on Tony And Susan, a 1993 novel by author Austin Wright, and it tells the story of a woman, Susan (Adams), who receives a manuscript in the mail from her ex-husband, Tony. The manuscript, titled "Nocturnal Animals," is an elaborate revenge fantasy that Susan perceives as a personal threat.
Oscar nominee Jake Gyllenhaal (Brokeback Mountain) co-stars in both the main plot line and the book-within-a-movie as Tony, and the film also features fellow Oscar nominees Michael Shannon (Revolutionary Road) and Laura Linney (The Savages), as well as Armie Hammer (The Social Network), Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Avengers: Age Of Ultron), and Isla Fisher as Susan's counterpart in the Western-set revenge portion of the story. (Finally, a movie that acknowledges the striking physical resemblance between Adams and Fisher.)
On paper, Adams' part in Nocturnal Animals seems like the perfect recipe for Oscar success: a starring role in a high-brow literary adaptation from an acclaimed up-and-coming director with a proven track record with Academy voters alongside other Oscar-caliber actors. Ironically, the biggest thing standing between Amy Adams and a nomination for Nocturnal Animals may be Amy Adams herself.
That's because the actress also has a second Oscar-worthy film coming out this fall — the sci-fi thriller Arrival, co-starring Oscar winner Forest Whitaker (The Last King Of Scotland) and nominee Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker) and directed by acclaimed filmmaker Denis Villeneuve (Prisoners, Sicario) who previously earned a nomination for his 2011 Foreign Language Film Incendies. Since current Academy rules state that a performer cannot be nominated twice in the same category in the same year, Oscar voters will only be able to choose one of Adams' two roles.
Since the Best Actress category is so stacked this year, there's probably some concern that the option between two equally deserving roles by Adams will end up splitting the vote for the actress, resulting in her not being nominated for either. The safest course of action, then, might be to campaign one of her two roles in the Supporting category instead.
Adams carries all of Arrival on her shoulders from beginning to end, so that role is undeniably Leading. But, in Nocturnal Animals, Adams only features in one of the film's two mirroring storylines and is surrounded by a deep ensemble cast, so an argument could be made to submit her as Supporting instead. (It's not as though "category fraud" is an unheard of phenomenon; just last year, The Danish Girl star Alicia Vikander won Best Supporting Actress for a role that was clearly co-lead of the movie.)
If Adams does earn a coveted double nomination this year — Lead for Arrival and Supporting for Nocturnal Animals — she will be the first to pull it off since Cate Blanchett in 2007 (for Elizabeth: The Golden Age and I'm Not There). She'll also stand a good chance of winning one of the two awards; of the 11 actors who have earned double nominations throughout Oscar history, only three have failed to win at least one.
Of Adams' two possible nominations, a Supporting nod for Nocturnal Animals seems the likeliest to yield a win. Best Actress seems destined to go to either Emma Stone — who already won Best Actress for La La Land at the Venice Film Festival earlier this month — or Viola Davis — who already won Best Actress for Fences at the Tonys in 2010. Adams would also be fighting against genre bias for an Arrival win; while science-fiction films are occasionally nominated for Best Picture (Mad Max: Fury Road, Inception, District 9), few of them ever yield any Acting nominations, and even fewer yield actual wins.
While it's looking likely that Adams will end up with a sixth — and possibly a seventh — Oscar nomination this year, it's also looking likely that she'll have to rely more on Nocturnal Animals if she hopes to end her losing streak. Good thing the trailer looks promising and that the movie itself is earning glowing advance reviews. You can see it for yourself when it hits theaters on Nov. 18… then tune into the 89th annual Academy Awards next February to (hopefully) watch Adams take home the gold.
Images: Focus Features (2); Giphy (2)