Feb 4, 2013


Host Nick Collins

Four time Academy Award nominee Amy Adams was honored with the Cinema Vanguard Award at the 2013 Santa Barbara Film Festival and Press Pass LA was at the Arlington Theater for the red carpet and awards ceremony.

The evening was moderated by Pete Hammond and was a tribute to Adams’ career including her recent turn in the Oscar nominated film The Master. Her award was presented by her director Paul Thomas Annderson and her co-star Joaquin Phoenix was in attendance.

The Cinema Vanguard award is for “the risktakers, the actor that steps out on the ledge everytime” and in the past has been bestowed upon the likes of Nicole Kidman, Ryan Gosling, and Stanley Tucci, to name a few.

The evening was an up close look at Adams’ career, an understated starlet who has quickly become America’s sweet-heart and a cinematic tour de force. The evening began with a discussion, as Amy told the audience about being a dancer first and always assuming she would end up in theater rather than the silver screen. She talked at length about “being scared ” in her life of not getting the role, of not having the look of a typical Hollywood star (she blames her crooked mouth), of well… a lot of things. “That was my thing,” she said, “I always wanted to get it right.”  A fear most everyone in the audience can relate to but was surely suprised to hear vocalized because to us, she is a fearless actress whose unique choices and uncomprimising work ethic have earned her four Oscar nods in as short as a seven year span. But perhaps it is the fear that drives her.

On this evening in the Arlington theater, the audience really got to know Amy Adams. We learned a lot about her first jobs which included dinner theater in Minnesota, being a ‘greeter’ at the Gap, and even a stint waitressing at Hooters, a gig that allowed her to buy her first car and with it her freedom. “That’s (Hooters) where it all goes wrong. I had guys offering me $250 to take off my shirt…Now, I get offered a lot more.” The audience was in stitches!

She talked about one of her proudest moments, singing live at the 2012 Oscars because she had conquered a fear of “terrible stage fright”  to do it. “The only thing that fear indicates is that it’s a risk worth taking,” Adams said. “Being brave means working through your fear.”

The program also included highlights of her work starting with her first break through role in 2002’s Catch Me If You Can. She played the quirkly hospital nurse Brenda Strong opposite Leonardo Di Caprio and Tom Hanks and directed by Steven Spielberg. Adams fondly recalled, “I had pigtails. Who wants to kiss Leonardo DiCaprio in pigtails?”  It wasn’t exaclty herTitanic fantasy she stated. She went on to describe how she never dreamed of working with that caliber of talent. “Working with such people, was never even on my radar,” and she credited this opportunity with landing her the role of Ashley in indie hit Junebug.

After watching a Junebug clip in which Ashley lays crying in a hospital bed post miscarriage, Adams became visibly choked up apologizing to the crowd, “I’m not tearing up at my own performance, but for all the women who’ve come up to me since that movie to tell me about how they lost a child”. She went on to discuss how becoming a mother since that film has made the role even more meaningful to her.

The evening also included scenes from other staples in her career like Sunshine Cleaning, Mrs. Pettigrew Lives for a Day,Charlie Wilson’s War, Julie & Julia and more.

We were also treated to comedy and music including to a musical number from Enchanted, a dance number from The Muppets, and even a table dance from Talladege Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. Adams was full of laughs herself, recounting the story of how she “lied to play a nun” in telling a small white lie to director John Patrick Shanley when vying for the role of Sister James opposite Meryl Streep in Doubt.

And she also spoke from the heart in talking about the intimate connections, connections of the soul, she made with her co-stars including Philip Seymour Hoffman in Doubt and Joaquin Phoenix in The Master. “When you have those intimate connections with someone that you are not initmate with, it’s a very special thing.” She went on to say that she could only speak for herself, not the other actors, in those moments but how she cherished that aspect of the work most of all.

We looked at her most recent work in The FighterThe Master, and Trouble with the Curve. In fact, Adams said that of all her roles the part of Mickey (Clint Eastwood’s daughter in the latter) required the most of her personally.

In a final admission, she told the audience how twice she had decided to leave acting. The first because she thought her dream wasn’t in the cards for her and the second, post 9-11, when she wanted to give up acting to do something with more purpose and was planning to join the Peace Corp. She soon got the breaks she needed to stay in the field and realized that touching people by bringing important stories to life was her gift and her purpose.

It is no wonder Adams has been tapped to play classic Louis Lane in the upcoming Man of Steel and is set to play Janis Joplin in Janis Joplin:Get It While You Can. And as Anderson presented her with the Cinema Vanguard award, he noted that she is the type of actress that has directors coming back for seconds and lined up around the block, a nod to her plan to reunite with The Fighter director David O’Russell in his upcoming film opposite Christian Bale.

“There’s no expiration date on ole’ Amy Adams, because she’ll never run out of talent,” concluded Anderson after a few jokes and a long hug as he handed Adams the award.

For more information visit Santa Barbara Film Festival.

Want more Santa Barbara coverage?

Check out our video interview with Director Joshua Pomer who also walked the red carpet at Amy’s ceremony. His surf film Discovering Mavericks premieres at Friday February 1st at 7PM at the festival.