Can you imagine enduring David O. Russell just so you can get your hands on an Oscar? Amy Adams told British GQ in February that Russell made her cry while filming 2013’s American Hustle, and that being on set left her “devastated.” How’d she end up in this predicament if she worked with him only three years earlier on The Fighter? Because the thirst is real.
Russell has long had a history of tormenting people on set — he invoked bad blood with George Clooney on the set of Three Kings and vulgarly berated Lily Tomlin on the set of I Heart Huckabees, yet the list of actors who continue to work with him for the sweet taste of being able to thank the Academy on a televised stage includes Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Christian Bale, and, of course, Adams. But in 2013 Russell still had a history of racking up Academy Award nominations (and earning wins for Melissa Leo, Bale, and Lawrence, if not one for himself), so of course Adams was going to star in American Hustle and get that Oscar nom. And she did. But then she didn’t win. And Russell’s follow-up, Joy, was shut out of the Oscars save for a Lawrence acting nom. His patina of prestige had dissipated, which now allowed Adams to call a spade a spade and tell the world that Russell made her cry. Would she have done it if Joy was nominated for more Oscars? Possibly. But maybe not, because as I’ve already stated, Adams wants that fucking gold.
But she’s not going to get one this year, and I suspect it’s because she has inherited The Curse of Leonardo DiCaprio. DiCaprio lusted after an Oscar for more than 20 years; it took nearly killing himself while filming Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s The Revenant to finally win one in 2015. After losing out on the gold for years thanks to Tommy Lee Jones, Jamie Foxx, Forest Whitaker, Matthew McConaughey, and 12 Years a Slave snatching his producer win for The Wolf of Wall Street, he no longer has to play nice. He gets to say “I am a douchebag” and own it.
A sixth nomination might break the Oscar curse for Adams the way it did for Leo, but it will also elude her this year. Just like DiCaprio’s stellar work in Django Unchained and Catch Me If You Can didn’t earn him nominations, Adams’s work in this year’s Arrival and Nocturnal Animals won’t be enough to get her the attention in a crowded landscape. For one, her best performance of this year was in Nocturnal Animals, but that film is abysmal and Focus Features isn’t pushing her for nominations since it would cancel out a possible nomination for Arrival. She could go the supporting route, of course, but Viola Davis has already submitted herself for Best Supporting Actress in Fences, and if you think the Academy isn’t about to finally give Davis her goddamn Oscar, you probably think Hillary Clinton is going to win in a recount. Arrival is one the best films of the year that isn’t Moonlight or The Handmaiden, and it will probably rack up at least a Best Screenplay nomination, but because of the twist in the film, Adams is required to deliver a rather muted performance, and without a flashy Oscar-baiting scene she’ll probably go unnoticed. And if she does somehow score a nomination for Arrival, the battle for Best Actress is currently between Natalie Portman and Emma Stone for Jackie and La La Land, respectively.
Here’s my advice to Adams: You’re already doing excellent work in Hollywood, and you’re one of the best actresses currently working, but just like your Nocturnal Animals co-star Jake Gyllenhaal, that’s not enough. Ask him about that Oscar nomination that eluded him for his brilliant performance in Nightcrawler. The only way to break this curse is for you to get down and dirty. I’m talking Angelina Jolie playing a sociopath in Girl, Interrupted, Charlize Theron not wearing any makeup in Monster, Cate Blanchett having to share the same air with Woody Allen in Blue Jasmine. To win this thing, you need to eat a bloody, still-beating heart. I know you’re thirsty for the gold, but you need to be parched to beat The DiCaprio Curse.