Dear Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences: you made one gigantic mistake this morning. While you made some surprising picks for nominations this morning, there was one snub that was made that really hurt. I'm talking, specifically, about your nominations for Best Actress, in which you made your greatest blunder in the class of 2016: you forgot to nominate Amy Adams for Arrival.
Out of all of the ways you could have surprised the world today, you chose to ignore the performance Adams gave as linguist Louise Banks in Denis Villeneuve's tour de force science fiction triumph -- a film you certainly didn't forget to honor in eight other categories, including Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Director. Which is weird, because all of those nominations can be connected to Amy Adams' role in the film.
After all, it was Eric Heisserer's screenplay from Ted Chiang's story that gave Adams the motivation and the fuel for such a nuanced portrayal of grief and misery, amidst a time of great discovery and tension that Arrival has to offer. And it was Villeneuve's sparkling direction that helped keep all of his actors on course, especially Amy Adams. Hell, the nominated director even found this omission too painful to accept, as he gave Entertainment Weekly the following quote during his own Oscar celebration:
This is the big disappointment. I'm deeply disappointed for Amy. She was the soul of this movie. For me, it was a given! She had the movie on her shoulders, she's the one who made it happen. It's a strange feeling to celebrate and feel sad at the same time.
I get that Meryl Streep is royalty at the Oscars. I understand, and champion, Isabelle Huppert getting a nod for Elle, and Ruth Negga being tapped for a similarly understated role in Loving. But leaving Amy Adams' Arrival performance off the list of best actresses in 2016 is completely preposterous. With any other actor, Louise could have been a character that mopes around with a sad face the whole film. It could have been a one dimensional character ruled by their sadness and their sorrow. But was she? No, she sure as Hell wasn't.
Amy Adams took Louise and not only gave her the worldly sorrow she feels for an event that hasn't even happened yet, but she also didn't forget to add her excitement and wonder of learning how to interact with Heptapods. We felt her sorrow, but at the same time we felt her amusement, her love, and ultimately her resignation to the fate that she sees coming miles down the pike, but has decided to embrace anyway.
In fact, it's that decision that truly shows the character of Amy Adams' portrayal of Louise. With anyone else, this decision would have been a twist of unbelievable proportions. And yet, with all of the groundwork she lays down in her character craft work, you can believe that Adams' Louise would do that. She's weighed these odds through all of Arrival, and ultimately when she lands on her choice, you can't help but cry even more. Only they're bittersweet tears that fear the end, but savor every bit of happiness that she'll experience in the meantime.
I'm not saying that the Best Actress field has any bad nominees. These women are all top flight talents that deserve a moment in the sun. But to be completely honest, there has to be one of them that could easily be removed from the list, in favor for Amy Adams' central performance in Arrival. Without her, that film wouldn't be anywhere near as moving or as transfixing as it was, and even Denis Villeneuve knows that. In fact, you'll probably be hearing a lot of people chiming in with this same sentiment, because it's an undisputed fact. Quite possible the best performance by an actor in 2016 was left out of the Oscar showdown, and we're all the poorer for it. But while Amy Adams may not be bringing home any Oscar gold this year, she'll be the performance that shines brightest out of them all, at least in my eyes.
For the length of a film, I was taken on a journey of scientific logic and reasoning, and it had a big beating heart at the center of it. That heart was Amy Adams, and it's a damned shame The Academy wasn't moved the same way I was, because her performance is worth more than any gold statue could ever be valued, but that statue would have been a nice start to repay her efforts.