Enchanted 2007 Directed by Kevin Lima. A partially animated musical fantasy that comes off charming rather than syrupy. Adams is a delight. We open in the animated kingdom of Andalasia. When her stepson Prince Edward (James Marsden) marries, ruthless ruler and sorceress Queen Narissa (Susan Sarandon) will lose her power. Edward meets and immediately decides to marry sunshiny Giselle (Amy Adams). On the day of the wedding Narissa pushes the incipient bride into a well. Giselle appears in full princess regalia as a live-action version of herself in Times Square, New York.
The young woman’s chipmunk friend Pip (Kevin Lima) and Prince Edward follow to rescue her, appearing as live-action versions of themselves. Pip is now a real chipmunk and can no longer speak. All three are lost innocents. Things don’t work the same way here as they do in fairytales. Meanwhile Narissa sends her servant Nathaniel (Timothy Spall – terrific) to see they don’t succeed, arming him with three poison apples.
Divorce lawyer Robert (Patrick Dempsey) and his daughter Morgan (Rachel Covey) encounter Giselle on their way to see Robert’s fiancé Nancy (Idina Menzel). Morgan believes Giselle is a princess and convinces her dad to put her up for the night. In the morning, Nancy finds her and thinks Edward has been unfaithful. Robert shows Giselle New York. Ah romance! Edward finds her. They decide they don’t know one another and will go on a date. All six characters – including Narissa who arrives to kill Giselle herself – attend a costume ball at which everything – happens. The end is nifty. Rent on Amazon Prime.
Doubt 2008 Directed by and based on the play Doubt: A Parable by John Patrick Shanley. Progressive Catholic priest Father Brendan Flynn (Philip Seymour Hoffman) gives a sermon on the nature of doubt, noting that, like faith, it can be an unifying force. A number of suspicious observations point to the possibility that Father Flynn may in some way be abusing the school’s only Black student Donald (Joseph Foster). He’s investigated by conservative Sister Aloysius Beauvier, the parish school principal (Meryl Streep) and watched as instructed by Sister James (Amy Adams) a naïve new teacher.
Reasonable explanations don’t suffice. Donald’s mother (Viola Davis) seems not to care, but has her reasons. Father Flynn threatens. Sister Beauvier threatens. Lives are overturned. The film centers on worldwide discovery of priests accused of pedophilia and is, in many ways prescient to exposure. Rent on Amazon Prime.
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day 2008 Based on the novel by Winifred Watson. Utterly delightful. Directed by Bharat Nalluri. Pre WWII. Middle-aged, conservative, destitute Miss Pettigrew (Frances McDormand) leaves an employment office having stolen the assignment intended for a peer. She thinks it’s a governess job. In fact, flamboyant, flibbertigibbit singer-actress Delysia Lafosse (Amy Adams) has requested a social secretary.
Delysia is involved with three very different men. Miss Pettigrew helps her make decisions and lands, having been physically made-over, in a world of frivolous high society where she’s surprised to be admired and pursued. The women become best friends. Men get sorted out. Both lives change for the better. Undiluted romantic comedy and lovely to look at. Rent on Amazon Prime.
Julie and Julia 2009 Based on a popular blog by Julie Powell. Directed by Nora Ephron. We go back and forth from 1950s Paris where Julia Child (Meryl Streep) has enthusiastically moved with diplomat husband Paul (Stanley Tucci) to 2002 New York in which Julie Powell (Amy Adams), married to magazine writer Eric (Chris Messina), decides to distract herself from a painful job by cooking and blogging about every recipe in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking (the very book Child writes after her frustration with The Cordon Bleu Cooking School in France).
The blog almost breaks up Julie’s marriage, but doesn’t. It goes viral. She almost gets to meet Julia, but doesn’t. Lots of scrumptious looking meals and genial company. Streep is wonderful. “It’s a satisfying throwback to those old-fashioned movie fantasies where impossible dreams do come true. And, in this case, it really happened.” Kenneth Turan, The Los Angeles Times. Rent on Amazon Prime.
Big Eyes 2014 Directed by Tim Burton. About the life of American artist Margaret Keane whose husband for many years took credit for her immensely popular paintings of people with enormous eyes. Margaret Ulbrich (Amy Adams) is a single mother supporting her daughter by painting illustrations at a furniture factory. She meets and marries painter Walter Keane (Christoph Waltz). When her paintings sell and his don’t, he builds her an attic atelier and takes credit for the art. She apparently has no idea.
The more popular her work, the more demanding and abusive Walter gets. Margaret eventually takes her daughter and runs, but her husband will only give her a divorce if she signs over all rights. It doesn’t evolve that way. The real artist must prove herself in court – and does. An odd little film in part because of the art’s questionable taste. With Danny Huston, Terrence Stamp, Jason Schwartzman, Madeleine Arthur. Rent on Amazon Prime.
Arrival 2016 Based on the 1998 short story “Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang. Directed by Denis Villeneuve. Fascinating Sci-Fi. Twelve extraterrestrial ships have arrived on earth. In Montana, a government operation tries to communicate with its inhabitants, cephalopod-like, seven-limbed beings whom scientists call “heptapods.” Linguist Louise Banks (Amy Adams) and physicist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) are recruited to try to decipher their messages which consist of palindrome phrases written with circular symbols. Ostensibly what they find will be shared by all countries.
During the process, Louise starts to vividly dream about her 12 year-old daughter who died of an incurable illness. A symbol with several possible meanings is interpreted as “weapon” by the Chinese who withdraw taking other nations with them. Threats are made, explosives planted. One of the creatures is wounded. Louise goes to see the other on her own and is helped to conceptualize non-linear time she employs to stop all-out war. It will also influence her future. String theory, anyone? Rent on Amazon Prime.
Series: Sharp Objects 2018 Based on the best-selling novel by Gillian Flynn. A brilliant piece of modern day Gothic film making. Alcoholic journalist Camille Preaker (Amy Adams) is sent from Chicago to her childhood town, Windgap, Missouri to cover the murder of one teenage girl and disappearance of another. Her paternal editor knows she has unfinished business with a traumatic past and hopes she’ll be able to resolve things while there.
No one wants to talk to her. Camille’s southern belle mother Adora Crellin ( Patricia Clarkson – terrific) “runs” everything and everyone, including milquetoast husband Alan (Henry Czerny) who’s helpless in the face of Adora’s affair with town sheriff Bill Vickery (Matt Craven).
Her mother is the root of Camille’s having become a “cutter” (cutting her body secretly) and may be insidiously harming youngest daughter Amma (Eliza Scanlen) who acts out with drinking, drugs, and promiscuity. None of this is implied until you’re caught in the web of the murders for which the wrong man seems to be facing a herd-mentality lynch mob. Also on the scene is Detective Richard Willis (Chris Messina) from Kansas City, first suspicious of, then attracted to Camille. Rent per episode on Amazon Prime.
On Netflix, Hillbilly Elegy based on J.D. Vance’s bestseller. Amy Adams plays Beverly “Bev” Vance, J.D.’s drug-addicted mother. Directed by Ron Howard. Also staring Glenn Close.