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Every Amy Adams Movie Ranked From Worst To Best

Since her film debut in 1999, Amy Adams has become an actor who fascinates casual moviegoers and film buffs alike. How could she not be? Adams isn't afraid to explore every genre, from musicals to indie dramas to superhero movies and everything in between, all while lending authenticity to an equally eclectic range of characters. There's something consistently daring about her work as a performer — her very presence can garner a person's interest in a movie that they otherwise might not have given the time of day.

Of course, that doesn't mean every single feature in which Adams has had a sizable role has been an all-time masterpiece. Like any actor, Adams has starred in a few movies that just didn't land with critics. Still, it's remarkable just how many universally acclaimed projects Adams has been a part of, and this feat becomes even more apparent when ranking her works from worst to best in terms of general critical reception. To get a full accounting of her career, we averaged the critical scores received by Adams' films on Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic to create a definitive ranking. When organizing her resume in this fashion, one can truly appreciate the impressive roles that have turned Adams into a must-see artist.

28. Leap Year

Given its meager box office performance and total lack of presence during awards season, even the most ardent Amy Adams fan may struggle to remember the 2010 romantic comedy "Leap Year," but it definitely happened. Adams headlines in the role of Anna Brady, a lady who takes a trip to Ireland to propose to her boyfriend on February 29th — a proposal that, according to the Irish tradition of Bachelor's Day, he'll be unable to refuse — only to fall into the arms of a handsome stranger played by Matthew Goode.

The reviews were not kind to "Leap Year," with the biggest complaints centering on the absence of quality gags or interesting narrative elements. Such shortcomings were especially egregious for a movie starring a woman who had recently been nominated for multiple Oscars. With these sorts of flaws dragging it down, perhaps it's best if "Leap Year" went back to being largely forgotten.

27. Hillbilly Elegy

An adaptation of a best-selling memoir directed by Ron Howard doesn't sound like a recipe for one of the worst-reviewed projects Amy Adam has ever starred in. Unfortunately, that was the outcome for "Hillbilly Elegy," a 2020 Netflix title that featured Adams as the drug-addicted mom of the film's protagonist.

"Hillbilly Elegy" was widely-criticized for showing little subtlety or tact in tackling the topic of addiction. The Week even produced a piece arguing that Adams was too good to appear in a movie as bad as "Hillbilly Elegy." The essay zeroed in on how a movie that relies so heavily on big, showy depictions of familial turmoil was a poor fit for Adams, who usually excels in quiet performances. Though Adams scored a handful of minor award nominations for her work here, the mismatch between performer and material led to "Hillbilly Elegy" being the rare Adams drama to get almost universally panned.

26. The Woman in the Window

Originally set for a theatrical release in October 2019, the Amy Adams thriller "The Woman in the Window" finally premiered on Netflix in May 2021. The turbulent production that this project went through, including extensive reshoots, didn't end up helping it in the eyes of critics. In fact, the film ended up scoring negative reviews, with heaps of criticism directed at its predictable attempts at big, shocking twists. In trying to make the next "Rear Window," director Joe Wright ended up with something that wasn't even as good as "Disturbia."

Brian Lowery of CNN, for one, commended Adams for committing herself wholeheartedly to her performance as the film's tormented protagonist, but also bemoaned that the screenplay gave her little of substance to do. Such sentiments were echoed throughout critical circles, rendering "The Woman in the Window" one of the worst-received vehicles Adams has ever headlined.

25. Dear Evan Hansen

Much of the conversation surrounding "Dear Evan Hansen," the 2021 film about an anxiety-riddled teenager who finds himself inventing a friendship with a fellow student who committed suicide, has been around lead actor Ben Platt — specifically, whether he was a proper fit for a high school character. While that controversy has gotten lots of attention, it's not the only area in which "Dear Evan Hansen" received a disastrous reception. Critics like Robert Daniels lambasted the film's emotionally manipulative writing and direction, as well as the lack of distinctly human characters to which audiences could get attached.

That's a far cry from the sort of universal praise that has greeted many other Amy Adams projects (Adams plays the grieving mother of the deceased student), though it's clear the problems with this adaptation of an award-winning musical ran far deeper than any one actor. With numerous flaws weighing it down, it's unlikely that Adams could have salvaged this one even if she'd delivered an Oscar-worthy performance.

24. Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice

The 2016 film "Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice" introduced several characters to the new DC Extended Universe, including Batman and Wonder Woman, while also featuring cameos from then-future "Justice League" characters Aquaman, Cyborg, and the Flash. In the middle of this slew of superheroes is Lois Lane, returning from "Man of Steel" as Superman's love interest and portrayed again by Amy Adams.

Despite throwing so much at the wall, "Dawn of Justice" did not fare well with critics, with large amounts of vitriol being directed at the oppressively dour tone and the storytelling shortcomings that fumbled away the project's thematic ambitions. Some of those criticisms directly involved Adams, with Vulture publishing a piece decrying how many extraneous subplots the actor was handed. "Dawn of Justice" wasn't lacking in recognizable superheroes, but it left much to be desired in terms of giving Adams something of substance to do.

23. Justice League

The theatrical cut of "Justice League" drummed up a ridiculous amount of internet discourse, with the superhero blockbuster's reputation sinking further and further over time thanks to the release of original director Zack Snyder's version of the film and allegations of misconduct by re-shoots director Joss Whedon. Even its initial reviews weren't kind, though, with many criticizing the movie's clumsy visual choices, including an overabundance of bright lighting, gags that failed to land properly, and especially strange tonal shifts.

Rarely getting much mention across these reviews, for good or for ill, was Amy Adams' third performance as Lois Lane. Her role just wasn't large enough or memorable enough to warrant much attention in initial reviews for the project, with most of the focus going to other details like Henry Cavill's upper lip. We're sure Adams did the best she could, but her presence couldn't spark any critical love for the theatrical version of "Justice League."

22. Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian

"Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian," the first sequel to the original "Night at the Museum" film, delivered a whole heap of new comical interpretations of historical figures for Ben Stiller to interact with. Among these was Amelia Earhart, played by Amy Adams, who imbued the role with plenty of vigor and energetic line deliveries on old-timey pieces of slang.

The overall response to "Battle of the Smithsonian" was, at best, mixed, with widespread criticism targeted at the sloppy screenplay and erratic level of quality in the CG visual effects. Adams, though, did score praise for delivering committed work in her supporting role. Her performance proved so endearing that certain reviews for the third movie even bemoaned the lack of Adams in the cast. In her sole appearance in the "Night at the Museum" franchise, Adams left quite an impact, even if the overall film she inhabited left something to be desired.

21. On the Road

Jack Kerouac's novel "On the Road" is one of the most acclaimed pieces of 20th-century American literature, with its massive influence on art spreading far and wide. It's no surprise, then, that such an iconic work would eventually get a film adaptation, though it took a long time for such a project to emerge — Kerouac himself was reportedly attempting to get a movie made as far back as 1957, the same year the book was published. An "On the Road" movie finally debuted in 2012 with a star-studded cast that included Amy Adams as Jane, Kerouac's analogue of the ill-fated Joan Vollmer.

Though its source material has been praised all over the world, the "On the Road" film garnered mixed marks, with widespread criticism from writers like Richard Corliss over how the movie missed key lively ingredients from the original text. Even with the participation of Adams, the "On the Road" feature film was a sizable disappointment.

20. Trouble with the Curve

2012's "Trouble with the Curve," the rare 21st-century movie starring the legendary Clint Eastwood but not directed by him, is a baseball-themed family drama that also features Amy Adams and Justin Timberlake as co-leads. The combination of such an eclectic trio of actors didn't, unfortunately, result in a terribly memorable movie. The general response to "Trouble with the Curve" was that it was mostly harmless, but also that it didn't offer much in the way of actual substance.

Adams plays Mickey Lobel, the daughter of Eastwood's aging baseball scout Gus Lobel. Despite her history of captivating audiences, she didn't earn much acclaim for the performance, with one reviewer calling her role "thanklessly undercooked." The film's reception was nowhere near bad enough to make it a disaster, but "Trouble with the Curve" did end up being one of the more forgettable and disposable entries in Adams' filmography

19. Man of Steel

When it was first released in 2013, "Man of Steel" got a divisive response from critics, though it would end up seeing far more positive reviews than the next two DC Extended Universe projects attributed to director Zack Snyder. While there was praise for the production's cinematography and bolder creative swings, "Man of Steel" was still criticized for focusing so heavily on action, and for its stilted dialogue, among other shortcomings.

This was Amy Adams' first appearance as Lois Lane, and it wasn't the best debut, though Adams herself can hardly bear the entirety of the blame. Charlie Schmidlin of IndieWire called out the movie's screenplay for handing Adams a perfunctory role that was lacking in personality, a problem he attributed to being a byproduct of the film's overall detached approach to the human characters. There were many other aspects of "Man of Steel" that were more widely-criticized than Adams' performance, but she didn't escape unscathed from the generally lukewarm reception to the project.

18. Zack Snyder's Justice League

For so long, it looked like an impossibility. Could there be any way for a fan movement to spur the release of Zack Snyder's fabled director's cut of "Justice League?" After years of campaigning, this project became a reality with the 2021 production now formally known as "Zack Snyder's Justice League." The four-hour magnum opus represents Snyder's original vision of his superhero movie epic, and of course, it includes Amy Adams reprising her role of Lois Lane in a part that, among other things, saw her unwittingly interact with the Martian Manhunter.

Though this version of "Justice League" had its share of issues, the film fared way better critically than Joss Whedon's iteration and managed to cap off Snyder's odyssey through the creation and exploration of the DC Extended Universe on a generally well-received note that at least allowed him to go out on his own terms.

17. Vice

In 2018, following up on his first foray into dramatic filmmaking with "The Big Short," writer/director Adam McKay delivered a motion picture about former Vice President Dick Cheney entitled "Vice." This production had an all-star cast, including Amy Adams as Lynne Cheney, reuniting her with McKay after the duo worked together on "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby."

The project ended up being a major player at the Academy Awards, with one of its many nominations being a Best Supporting Actress nod for Adams, her sixth total. The critical response to "Vice" was a bit more on the mixed side, though outlets like Parade did take the time to single out Adams and her performance as one of the production's standout elements. Even if it wasn't beloved by everyone, Adams' work in "Vice" still got a fair amount of praise and some award season glory, and she and McKay were now two-for-two on successful artistic collaborations.

16. Big Eyes

Compared to most other Tim Burton movies made after 2010, "Big Eyes" was a critical success from the word go, though it wasn't necessarily everyone's cup of tea. Much of the positive sentiment was due to creative visual details in the cinematography, as well as the central performance by Amy Adams as Margaret Keane, an artist notorious for painting subjects with unusually enormous eyes.

Though the project got some criticism for adhering too closely to standard biopic narrative hallmarks, Adams was widely praised for her work here. She even managed to score several Best Actress nominations throughout 2014's award season, including a win for Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy at the Golden Globes and a BAFTA nomination for Best Leading Actress. Not many people would likely pick "Big Eyes" as their favorite Adams vehicle, but it's clear this Burton film struck a chord with some viewers.

15. Sunshine Cleaning

Amy Adams and Emily Blunt as two sisters dealing with the aftermath of horrific crimes might sound like the pitch for a seedy thriller. Instead, it's the starting idea for "Sunshine Cleaning," an indie comedy from director Christine Jeffs about a family who gets into the business of cleaning up crime scenes, working through their relationships with one another along the way.

Premiering at the Sundance Film Festival in 2008, "Sunshine Cleaning" was warmly-received by critics, despite some pointing out the familiarity of Megan Holley's screenplay. Joe Neumaier of Daily News was taken aback by how commanding Adams was in her expressions alone, commenting on how so much emotion could be conveyed "with her big, sad eyes." The rich emotions of this lead performance made "Sunshine Cleaning" a charming winner, despite kicking off with a premise that sounds like it could easily go in a pretty macabre direction.

14. Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby

Fresh off her first Oscar nomination for "Junebug," Amy Adams managed to score the female lead role of Susie in the 2006 Will Ferrell comedy "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby." In the pantheon of her career, this project is a bit of an odd one, simply because Adams hasn't done a ton of comedies. If this genre isn't something she does constantly, however, it certainly didn't do any damage to her career. In addition to being a moneymaker at the box office, "Talladega Nights" got generally positive marks from critics.

However, there was some criticism directed at the lack of depth in the character of Susie. Peter Travers of Rolling Stone, for example, described the eventual romance between the character and Ricky Bobby as "unnecessary" and saw the part as a downgrade from the more substantive character Adams got to tackle in "Junebug." Still, even if she didn't have a lot to do here, at least "Talladega Nights" didn't provide a critically-lambasted skid mark on the filmography of Amy Adams.

13. Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day

Just a few months after she was launched into A-list leading lady status with "Enchanted," Amy Adams reappeared on movie theater screens playing co-star to Frances McDormand in "Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day." The duo portray a pair of vastly different ladies who end up getting into all sorts of shenanigans across London in the 1930s.

Though the project was widely perceived as being undeniably slight, "Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day" still got fine marks from critics, who especially praised the two central performances. Stephen Holden in the New York Times was particularly enamored with Adams and her jubilant, entertaining energy, which he compared favorably to vintage movie star Jean Arthur. Though not the most lasting or impactful feature she's ever appeared in, "Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day" still helped Adams add another charmer of a motion picture to her resume. 

12. Nocturnal Animals

With "Nocturnal Animals," viewers get two movies for the price of one, as writer/director Tom Ford delivers a quiet, detached film about regret starring Amy Adams as art gallery owner Susan Morrow. The first story involves Morrow reading a new manuscript by her ex-husband — the manuscript itself comprises the other, as we see an avatar of this ex-lover, portrayed by Jake Gyllenhaal, caught up in a revenge crime thriller. It's all incredibly tense, meticulous on a visual level, and peppered with strong supporting performances from actors Michael Shannon and Aaron Taylor-Johnson.

Critics like Owen Gleiberman for Variety also found time to praising Adams in her lead role, with Gleiberman lauding her and Gyllenhaal for conveying the sense that they're still being consumed by the younger versions of their characters. Though such a structurally audacious movie didn't appeal to everyone, "Nocturnal Animals" was a largely well-received project that made thoughtful use of Adams' skills.

11. Julie & Julia

The final directorial effort from Nora Ephron (of "Sleepless in Seattle" and "You've Got Mail" fame), "Julie & Julia" chronicled two true stories, both of which centered around famous cooking teacher Julia Child, portrayed by Meryl Streep. Framing Child's own story is the more modern tale focusing on author Julie Powell, a role tackled by Amy Adams.

Some critiques of "Julie & Julia," such as a review by Keith Phipps for the A.V. Club, criticized the storyline focused on Powell as inherently inferior to the flashback sequences focused on Child and yearned for a more concise take on the material. Primarily, though, "Julie & Julia" scored positive remarks from critics, with leading ladies Adams and Streep garnering the lion's share of the praise. It was a fittingly well-received end to the directorial career of Ephron, who passed away in 2012, leaving a string of crowdpleasers like "Julie & Julia" behind for moviegoers to enjoy.

10. Doubt

The stripped-down nature of "Doubt" comes from its roots as an award-winning play. Its inherently restrained aesthetic means that the film was going to live or die based on the actors assembled to bring it to life on the big screen — luckily, the film adaptation cast a number of beloved performers, including Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Amy Adams in the role of Sister James. An agreeable nun thrust into a moral quandary and torn between two elder figures in her workplace, Adams reflects tangibly human uncertainty in her on-screen work. She also displays a welcome tendency to not play things too broad, showing confidence that the dialogue and atmosphere will hold the audience's attention, despite the low-key nature of the production.

This confidence turned out to be well-placed, since "Doubt" proved to be a well-received motion picture and one that provided Adams with plenty of awards attention.

9. Charlie Wilson's War

Amy Adams has worked with a slew of significant filmmakers throughout her career, including Steven Spielberg, Paul Thomas Anderson, and Denis Villeneuve. Another instance of this trend came in 2007, when she landed a sizable role as Bonnie Bach in "Charlie Wilson's War." The film was directed by Mike Nichols, the man responsible for helming legendary titles like "The Graduate" and "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" Though the film was not one of the most acclaimed projects Nichols ever put his name on, it did earn generally positive notices, with particular praise heaped on the cast for working so well with screenwriter Aaron Sorkin's distinctive brand of dialogue.

As for Adams, Roger Ebert himself made sure to commend her for portraying an amusing straight-arrow contrast to the more morally flexible protagonist played by Tom Hanks. Consider "Charlie Wilson's War" another victory in Adams' long history of collaborating with great filmmakers.

8. Junebug

After years of showing up in small roles in projects ranging from "Smallville" to "Catch Me if You Can," Amy Adams finally got a breakthrough role in the 2005 comedy/drama "Junebug." The film garned near-universal praise, but Adams achieved especially high marks for her supporting performance as Ashley, the main character's pregnant sister-in-law, who Roger Ebert described as "good, and brave, and sweeter than peaches."

Ebert was unsurprised by the fact that "Junebug" won Adams the Special Jury Prize for Acting at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival, and it also got her a nomination for Best Supporting Actress at the Academy Awards, the first time Adams would be recognized at this prestigious event. It wouldn't be Adams' last Oscar nod, and certainly not her last performance to win critical acclaim, but "Junebug" was the movie that put Adams on the map, making it a particularly special role in her career.

7. Enchanted

After her success in "Junebug" led to several more supporting roles, Amy Adams snagged her first big turn as a leading lady with 2007's "Enchanted," the movie that officially made her a star. While some actors have found themselves stumbling when handed a chance to headline a major theatrical feature, Adams had the opposite experience. The production received extremely positive reviews, many of which took the time to highlight the fact that Adams' performance as Giselle, a storybook princess transported to the real world, was integral to making the whole movie click.

Adams inhabited the classical Disney princess persona without so much as a wink to the viewer. She was totally immersed in doing the best possible classical iteration of that archetype, and the result was a beloved performance that earned her a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress in a Musical/Comedy. After so many years of hard work, the Disney musical finally got Adams her big break as an actor.

6. The Master

Paul Thomas Anderson's 2012 film "The Master" is a story about men who are adrift. This is readily apparent in the case of World War II veteran Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix), a man struggling to find somewhere he belongs in society, but even cult leader Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman) is an outcast in America and finds his followers often challenging his ever-changing material. Only Dodd's wife, Peggy, seems to have her feet firmly planted to the ground — even the prospect of her husband cheating on her doesn't shake her resolute nature.

Amy Adams invests Peggy with an enormous amount of believable conviction, delivering several unforgettable scenes in "The Master" in the process. Performances like Adams' turned "The Master" into one of the best-reviewed movies of 2012 and earned her a fourth Oscar nomination, giving the actor an especially revered project in a career jam-packed with beloved titles.

5. The Muppets

For the first theatrical "Muppets" movie in over a decade, director James Bobin and screenwriter/leading man Jason Segel pulled out all the stops to make "The Muppets" more than just an obligatory follow-up. This included getting Amy Adams to portray the co-lead human character of the story, a small-town gal and mechanic named Mary.

Though the focus of the production was obviously on the titular puppet characters, Adams still got opportunities to shine here, including her own musical number entitled "Me Party." The bubbly musical energy of "The Muppets" was a perfect fit for the sort of family movie performance Amy Adams had delivered in the past, making it no surprise that she proved to be so entertaining here. The enthusiasm and commitment by artists like Adams on this project ensured that "The Muppets" scored widespread critical acclaim, cementing it as a successful comeback motion picture for the franchise.

4. The Fighter

The boxing movie mold, as established by "Rocky," has plenty of storytelling hallmarks so ingrained that most audiences would be disappointed by their absence. This includes a tough-as-nails romantic partner for the boxing protagonist — one whose affection can be just as powerful as any hit in the ring. For "The Fighter," a movie about real-life boxer Mickey Ward, Charlene Fleming fills this role, with Amy Adams lending enough personality and grit to the part to ensure that audiences wouldn't just toss her into a pile of other boxing movie girlfriends once the credits began to roll.

The critically acclaimed "The Fighter" gave Adams a part comprised mainly of hard edges, a noticeable contrast from earlier bubbly performances in works like "Enchanted." This wasn't just a chance for Adams to score more award season recognition, but also a golden opportunity for her to reinforce her range as a performer.

3. Arrival

Communication is key in "Arrival," a movie in which Amy Adams portrays linguist Louise Banks, a woman tasked with helping to foster communication between humanity and a pair of alien lifeforms. The ensuing plot makes great use of Adams' gift for subtly detailed performances, a gift she manages to hold onto no matter how heady or stylized "Arrival" gets. Her work provides the film's captivating emotional anchor, with countless reviews for the project highlighting her as one of the very best parts of a remarkable sci-fi movie.

Even in a feature containing massive aliens and astounding spaceships, it was the raw performance from Adams that lingered in the minds of audiences once the credits started rolling. Though she was controversially snubbed for a Best Actress Oscar nomination for her work here, a performance as good as Adams puts forth in "Arrival" doesn't need awards attention to affirm its value.

2. American Hustle

In her second collaboration with director David O. Russell, Amy Adams plays Sydney Prosser, the con artist wife to an equally scheming Christian Bale in "American Hustle." This star-studded crime caper was a brutally difficult experience for Adams — she was open with GQ about Russell, who was so abusive on the set that Adams refused to work with the filmmaker again. It's clear that "American Hustle" was a painful experience for her, even with the film becoming a critical darling.

Adams' performance drew enough attention that she was eventually honored with her fifth Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination. The combination of traumatic on-set experiences with the critical acclaim that Adams endured as a result of "American Hustle" is a microcosm of what so many actors in Hollywood have gone through, an example of how beloved performances can eventually be revealed to have cost too much on a personal level.

1. Her

When it came to the cast of Spike Jonze's 2013 film "Her," much of the attention went towards Joaquin Phoenix's lead performance as Theodore Twombly, as well as Scarlett Johansson's equally integral voice-over work. However, one can't discount the presence of Amy Adams in the supporting cast as the character appropriately named Amy. A best pal and confidant to Twombly, Adams instills a lived-in quality in her interactions with the protagonist that effectively and immediately conveys the long-standing dynamic between the two. Even better, her delivery gives an impressively natural feel to profound lines like "I think anybody who falls in love is a freak. It's a crazy thing to do. It's kind of like a form of socially acceptable insanity."

In the hands of a lesser performer, it's a role that could've felt perfunctory and ended up fading deep into the background. The deeply warm and humanistic qualities possessed by Adams, however, ensured that this character didn't have to be showy to leave an impression, and her talent was integral in making "Her" a masterpiece.