Amy Adams is doing double time here at the Toronto Film Festival and will continue to show off her 180-degree range this awards season with both Paramount’s Arrival and Focus Features’ Tom Ford title Nocturnal Animals. In fact, last night Ford was extolling Adams at the Nocturnal Animals premiere for her infinite facial expressions. In the latter film, she’s the emotionally tortured upper-crust ex-wife of a burgeoning novelist, while in Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival she plays Dr. Louise Banks, a linguistics professor who’s tapped by the Army to decipher aliens’ signals.

Arrival is the latest in a string of heady sci-fi films that have become an annual tradition at the autumn box office since 2013’s Gravity, i.e., 2014’s Interstellar and last year’s The Martian. “I think that it didn’t remind me of a film, was kind of what attracted me to it,” Adams said about Arrival at Deadline’s TIFF studio. “It had a uniqueness that belonged to it.” While one aspect of Arrival deals with warding off extraterrestrials’ potential destruction of Earth, a vital backstory involving Banks centers on the loss of her daughter to cancer. And that’s where Arrival hit a nerve with the five-time Oscar nominee. “It felt like a mother’s story,” said Adams.

Paramount acquired North American rights for the movie at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival for a whopping $20 million. Jeremy Renner stars as Dr. Ian Connelly, Banks’ associate who is a theoretical physicist with a practical view of the universe. Arrival makes its Toronto premiere at 9:30 tonight at Roy Thomson Hall and opens domestically November 11.