“Amy Adams is a monster,” Justin Timberlake informed the black-tie crowd in the Beverly Hilton’s International Ballroom during her American Cinematheque Award Ceremony tribute. “More specifically, a karaoke monster.” When they shot Clint Eastwood’s 2012 “Trouble with the Curve” in Atlanta, Timberlake said the now-five-time Oscar nominee “pretty much bullied me” into a duet of “A Whole New World” from “Aladdin.”
After praising her talents, Timberlake conceded, “Quite frankly, I will sing with you anytime. But next time I’m choosing the goddamned song. I have a history with Disney” — referencing his pre-teen years on “The All-New Mickey Mouse Club” — “and there’s a little PTSD… Is [Disney Chairman Bob] Iger here tonight? Okay, good.”
The evening’s collection of Adams collaborators and admirers — including Tom Hanks, Jake Gyllenhaal, Natalie Portman, Denis Villeneueve, Kristen Stewart, Michael Shannon, and Chris Messina — toasted their friend at the nonprofit arts organization’s 31st annual gala. Additional guests included Paramount Pictures chairman Jim Gianopulos, Academy Awards producer Jennifer Todd, “Call My by Your Name” producer Francesco Melzi, and “Justice League” producer Charles Roven.
American Cinematheque Los Angeles operates the Egyptian and Aero theatres, and since 1981 has committed to preserving the theatrical experience, an increasingly challenging task. “In this era of increased isolation on our portable devices, it’s up to all of us to take a stand to ensure that future generations get to experience with friends and loved ones that sense of awe and wonder that you can only get from being in a movie theater,” said chief IMAX executive Richard Gelfond, He accepted the event’s Sid Grauman Award with IMAX Entertainment CEO Greg Foster. (Christopher Nolan, who presented the statuette, recently apologized for denouncing Netflix to IndieWire this summer.)
But the night truly belonged to Adams. From the stage, Portman said while they’d yet to act together (though she’d love someone to write them a buddy comedy), Adams gave her this cherished insight while they campaigned for the same awards: “It’s so difficult being an actress because you have to have such a thick skin with all the things that people say to you, all the things that you hear, and then you have to have such a thin skin when you’re working, and be so vulnerable.”
Later, Adams quipped from the stage, “Natalie, when I think about you, I just want to go, ‘It’s such a shame about her face.’ I feel bad for you.” In January, Portman (“Jackie”) and Adams (“Arrival”) lost a Golden Globe to Isabelle Huppert (“Elle”). “Arrival” director Villeneueve said that on the morning when he and not Adams received a subsequent Oscar nomination, she nonetheless consoled him over the phone.
The evening featured multiple video montages of performances from Adams’s 18-year film career, but the highlight was an early 12-minute speech by Hanks, who revealed that every person on the set of “Catch Me If You Can” — from director Steven Spielberg to the craft services team — was besotted with Adams.
Despite Adams being a newcomer in 2002, Hanks said she “possessed and displayed so much acumen and artistry that to be acting in a scene with her was to forget everything I was trying to do with my lines, and my dialogue, and my glasses, and my suit, and my hat, and my gun. I was lost.” Five years later, Adams played his assistant in the Mike Nichols film “Charlie Wilson’s War;” Hanks mused that the part where a Steadicam follows her bouncing red ponytail down a hallway was “the best scene in the whole fucking movie,” adding that she magically “acted with her hair.”
Still, a couple of the two-time Best Actor’s comments didn’t play as well. Recapping Adams’ biography, Hanks talked about the grind she first endured in Los Angeles: “She’s auditioning now, she’s auditioning, she’s auditioning, oh no, she’s not going to audition up in the hotel room, no, she won’t.” He also joked about her onetime job waitressing at Hooters, where customers come “for two things: [long pause] the damn good chicken wings and the chili fries.”
When it came time to present the award, Adams’ Superman franchise co-star, Michael Shannon, stood in for Meryl Streep, who worked with Adams on “Julie and Julia” and “Doubt.” He rambled about the coincidence of being asked to fill the day after he read her recent T Magazine profile in a Rome airport lounge.
Finally, it was Adams’ turn. “Sometimes I question being an actress, I have to be honest,” she said. “I sometimes go, Am I doing enough?… In those times of doubt, I always ask the people what they get out of movies.” That morning, she said her seven-year-old daughter, Aviana, had offered this reassurance: “‘I love movies because they allow my imagination to grow, and they make me feel like I’m dreaming even though I’m awake.'”