Amy Adams is one of Hollywood’s most beloved stars. Her charisma, humor, and versatility have paid off in independent films, big-budget comedies, superhero adaptations, and more. She can easily turn on a super sweet persona that’s perfect for kids, which makes her ability to transform into someone a lot tougher, all the more impressive. The Academy surely thinks highly of Adams, as they’ve nominated her six times.

With Adams’s resume of beloved films, it can be quite difficult to pin down her most rewatchable efforts. Like other great actors, Adams has played lead roles in highly acclaimed films and small roles in movies that might not be masterpieces but are hard to turn off once you start them. Some of her greatest projects might be too heavy to rewatch, like Doubt and Junebug, but Adams has several movies that are not only compelling but generally more accessible to a wide audience, showcasing her knack for making audiences laugh, cry, and become totally engrossed in the story.

10 ‘American Hustle’ (2013)

Directed by David O. Russell

Sydney Prosser smiling while leaning back against a desk in American Hustle.
Image via Sony Pictures Releasing

One of Christian Bale‘s most rewatchable movies, American Hustle is a period-comedy about the FBI’s ABSCAM operation. With big names including Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Jeremy Renner, and even Robert De Niro, it makes for a fun watch with strong performances. The soundtrack might be the best part, though, featuring the music of Duke Ellington, The Bee Gees, Electric Light Orchestra, Sir Paul McCartney, and more. It even has an Arabic version of Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit.”

Anyone who likes to watch the FBI look silly will get a kick out of this, as will those who enjoy criminals in fancy clothes that are very much a product of the times. Adams plays the female lead, Sydney Prosser, Irving Rosenfeld’s (Christian Bale) lover and fellow con artist. Even though director David O. Russell was extremely difficult to work with, Adams still pulled off a memorable turn that got her a Best Actress Oscar nomination.

American Hustle movie poster

American Hustle

Release Date
December 3, 2013

129 minutes

Eric Warren Singer , David O. Russell

9 ‘Sunshine Cleaning’ (2008)

Directed by Christine Jeffs

Amy Adams smiling as Rose Lorkowski in Sunshine Cleaning.
Image via Overture Films

Amy Adams and Academy Award nominee Emily Blunt play sisters Rose and Norah Lorkowski, who try to scrape some cash together by starting a crime-scene cleaning business in Albuquerque. They are comically bad at first, but soon, they learn the trade and make a decent living. The dark humor includes a surprisingly bright business name, which is also the movie’s title: Sunshine Cleaning.

Rose is having an affair with her ex (Steve Zahn), who’s married to someone else, and she has to let go of her hopes of getting back together with him. Adams is great, as always, and her chemistry with Blunt helps sustain the viewer’s interest. It’s important for a movie like this to not make too light of a story in which the main characters literally profit off of tragedy, and Sunshine Cleaning succeeds at striking a good balance of comedy and drama. With Alan Arkin playing the sisters’ father, this story is worth seeing again.

Sunshine Cleaning

Release Date
January 18, 2008

102 minutes

Megan Holley

8 ‘The Muppets’ (2011)

Directed by James Bobin

Mary, Miss Piggy, Walter, Gary, and Kermit looking at the camera and singing in 'The Muppets'
Image via Walt Disney Pictures

Written by Jason Segel, The Muppets proves to be one of the funniest Muppet movies. It’s mostly about Walter, an orange puppet who dreams of meeting the Muppets and joining them. His human brother Gary (Segel) and Gary’s girlfriend Mary (Adams) help him fulfill his dream via road trip, but they quickly learn that an oil magnate who says “maniacal laugh” instead of actually laughing plans to buy the property and tear it down.

Although the film’s main stars are the titular puppets, the human characters get more than enough to do — and sing. When Mary gets her time to shine (like when she eats alone in a diner), she lives up to the deliberately wonky story about gathering the old Muppet gang together. Adams is warm, sweet, and incredibly compelling, fitting the film’s tone perfectly. With the help of Adams, The Muppets brought the beloved characters back into the mainstream and is definitely worth a revisit.


The Muppets

Release Date
November 23, 2011


7 ‘The Master’ (2012)

Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson

Peggy Dodd smiling warmly in The-Master
Image via The Weinstein Company

The Master is undoubtedly one of Amy Adams’ best films. She plays Peggy Dodd, the wife of cult leader Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman), who doesn’t trust newcomer Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix), which no one can really blame her for. Freddie doesn’t quite come across as a very predictable, let alone easy-to-control man. Peggy’s no pushover, and her cold demeanor betrays just as much calculation as her husband, if not more.

Adams got an Oscar nod for her supporting role, as did Phoenix and Hoffman. Laura Dern, Jesse Plemons, and Rami Malek are a few more big names in small but excellent performances in a film that works on so many levels. Among other things, it’s an enthralling character study, an examination of PTSD and addiction, a tale of friendship and masculinity, and one of the most insightful movies about a cult ever made. Viewers may need to be in a certain mood to watch this unconventional masterpiece, but sooner or later, The Master will pull them back in with its utterly unique vision, energy, and stellar performances.

The Master movie poster

The Master

Release Date
September 7, 2012

137 minutes

Paul Thomas Anderson

Watch on Tubi

6 ‘Her’ (2013)

Directed by Spike Jonze

Amy smiling at someone while her husband Charles walks behind her in Her
Image via Warner Bros. Pictures

Whenever the viewer is ready for something sad, sweet, funny, and a little weird, they should look no further than Spike Jonze‘s Her. Set in the foreseeable future, it centers on the lonely Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix in one of his best roles), who is separated from his wife and starts to date his artificially sentient phone (Scarlett Johansson taking voice acting to another level). Adams plays Theodore’s friend and neighbor, also called Amy, who could use some artificial company herself.

Amy isn’t just there to be a sweet and sad friend to talk to. She has stuff going on, like that documentary about sleep that she films by simply pointing a camera at someone fast asleep. This singular approach easily could have been played for laughs, but Adams makes it so that her character comes across as smart, sympathetic, and misunderstood (especially by her boyfriend). Her is one of the best romances of all time, and viewers will find comfort in it whenever they’re going through a heartache of their own.



Release Date
December 18, 2013

Joaquin Phoenix , Lynn A. Freedman , Lisa Renee Pitts , Gabe Gomez , ​Chris Pratt2 , Artt Butler

120 minutes

5 ‘Enchanted’ (2007)

Directed by Kevin Lima

Giselle looking confused in Enchanted
Image via Disney

In Enchanted, the evil queen Narissa (Susan Sarandon) pushes Gisele (Adams) down to a place “where there are no happily ever afters:” New York City. There are so many valuable life lessons here: date before marriage, not everyone is good at charades, radiotherapy can be profound, and never accept a free apple. And for those who always suspected that Little Red Riding Hood was a bald-faced liar, Gisele brings the truth to light.

The rats, the roaches, the pigeons — they’re all under Gisele’s control. She sings her way into their hearts and minds as she cleans a divorce lawyer’s (Patrick Dempsey) apartment. With all this rich material, Adams is hilarious as a princess who is so innocent that the very concept of divorce makes her cry. Like Elf before it, Enchanted takes advantage of a make-believe character’s naïveté in the real world. It’s one of the most charming live-action/animated movies and always a safe, family-friendly choice to watch over and over.



Release Date
November 20, 2007


Bill Kelly

4 ‘Charlie Wilson’s War’ (2007)

Directed by Mike Nichols

A close-up still of Amy Adams' character Bonnie Bach smiling in Charlie Wilson's War.
Image via Universal Studios

In Charlie Wilson’s War, Adams plays the hard-working assistant of a Texas congressman (Tom Hanks) who only hires beautiful women, likes to party, and plays a big part in America’s assistance to Afghanistan during its war with the mighty USSR. Hanks, Julia Roberts, and a scene-stealing Philip Seymour Hoffman are the three major reasons why this movie is so much fun, but Adams still plays the administrative role very well.

Charlie Wilson’s War has a similar ratio of humor to earnestness about US foreign policy during the 1980s as Argo. This transparently patriotic movie is sprinkled with surprisingly amusing moments, like when Representative Wilson’s assistant sits at the foot of a large staircase with two greyhounds in the middle of a fancy party and uncomfortably downs a martini. While based on a true story and a serious topic, Charlie Wilson’s War makes for a highly accessible and entertaining history lesson one can watch multiple times.

Charlie Wilson's War Movie Poster

Charlie Wilson’s War

Release Date
December 19, 2007

102 minutes

Aaron Sorkin , George Crile

3 ‘Julie & Julia’ (2009)

Directed by Nora Ephron

Julie Powell and her husband Eric smiling while looking down at something in Julie & Julia
Image via Columbia Pictures

It’s not often that a movie is based on two books: Julia Child’s My Life in France and Julie Powell’s Julie and Julia. Using the latter title for the film adaptation, Julie & Julia tells two stories separated by time and space. Meryl Streep plays Child as she is figuring out she wants to go to cooking school, which is exactly as delightful as it sounds. Amy Adams plays Julie, a woman on the verge of 30 who decides to write a blog about making every recipe in Child’s famous cookbook in a year.

Julie’s never eaten an egg, and her first one is poached. This is one of many delectable details of her story, which Adams brings to life with a lovable performance that even includes an impression of Julia Child. If the viewer isn’t hungry when they start the movie, they will be soon. They’ll want to go to France, too. But most importantly, they’ll want to rewatch this heartwarming, scrumptious (albeit slightly overlong) cooking comedy.

Julie & Julia

Release Date
August 6, 2009

123 minutes

Nora Ephron

2 ‘The Fighter’ (2010)

Directed by David O. Russell

Charlene looking at someone to her right in The Fighter
image via Paramount Pictures

One of the best boxing movies of all time boasts Adams as Mickey Ward’s (Mark Wahlberg) girlfriend, Charlene Fleming. Charlene’s a sexy bartender who doesn’t take any nonsense and throws a good punch herself. Inevitably, she and Mickey’s family take a while to get along. The Fighter was a moment where Adams got to break type and take on a more abrasive personality. Her nuanced performance was clearly up to the task, as it landed her another Oscar nomination.

The Fighter was also nominated for Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Director, and more. This movie is inspiring, funny, and just serious enough to respect the complexity of Mickey and Dickey’s (Christian Bale) lives. It doesn’t hurt that the boxing matches are very well choreographed, too. Amid all the swearing and fighting, there is so much heart and emotional sincerity in The Fighter that it’s easy to return to again and again.


The Fighter

Release Date
December 17, 2010

114 minutes

Paul Attanasio , Lewis Colick , Eric Johnson , Scott Silver , Paul Tamasy

1 ‘Catch Me if You Can’ (2002)

Directed by Steven Spielberg

A close-up shot of a young Amy Adams as Brenda in Catch Me If You Can.
Image via DreamWorks Pictures

Catch Me If You Can may be thought of as one of Steven Spielberg‘s minor works, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less entertaining than his classics. This movie is very well directed, and all the characters are so carefully drawn that the audience feels great sympathy for all of them, major and minor. Leonardo DiCaprio delivers one of his best performances as talented con artist Frank Abignale Jr. Amy Adams plays a young hospital worker named Brenda who falls for his charade.

The braces, the pigtails, the wide-eyed, deer-before-the-lights look — Brenda is the face of innocence. It really is one of Adams’s best and most heartwarming performances. Then there’s the cat-and-mouse game between Frank and Carl Hanratty (a fantastic Tom Hanks), which is by turns emotionally resonant and hilarious. Other A-list performances come from the likes of Martin Sheen and Christopher Walken. Quite simply, audiences are just as swept away by it on the hundredth viewing as on the first.

Catch Me If You Can

Release Date
December 25, 2002

141 Minutes

Frank Abagnale Jr. , Stan Redding , Jeff Nathanson

NEXT: Steven Spielberg’s Best 15 Movies, Ranked According to IMDb

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