And in such times of doubt, the five-time Oscar nominated actress says that she asks those around her: “What do you get out of movies?”
“This time, I asked my seven-year-old daughter, ‘What do movies mean to you?’ She told me, ‘I like movies because they allow my imagination to grow and make me feel like I’m dreaming even though I’m awake.’
“So I want to thank all off you for allowing me to live my dream even though I’m awake,” said Adams to a standing ovation tonight.
On tap to laud Adams were Tom Hanks, Kristen Stewart, Justin Timberlake, Jake Gyllenhaal, Chris Messina, Michael Shannon, Denis Villeneuve and Natalie Portman. In addition, Dunkirk director Christopher Nolan presented Richard Gelfond, CEO of Imax Corp, and Greg Foster, CEO of IMAX Entertainment, with the Sid Grauman award for their impact in modern cinema.
Adams was asked before the ceremony began, “Are you scared about being roasted tonight?” by one reporter. “I hope I’m roasted, that will make me feel a lot better,” said the Arrival actress. Villeneuve said during his speech about the actress, “You’re suppose to roast at these events. I don’t know how to do that, but you don’t roast angels.”
Julie and Julia and HBO’s Sharp Objects co-star Messina called Adams a “Babe Ruth” of actors “able to see something that no one else could see” just like the ballplayer when he stepped up to the plate.” He regaled the crowd with an experience over the summer when they were shooting a scene for Sharp Objects in a 100-degree diner in the valley. The steamy atmosphere was ideal for the fight scene they had to perform. However, after a few takes, Adams went to the monitor, studied her performance, and “pointed at the monitor. She wanted to do another take. It reminded me of when Babe Ruth would point to the bleachers,” said Messina. Adams called “Messy” Messina “Family. Working with you brought out the most genuine part of my spirit.”
Her Nocturnal Animals co-star Gyllenhaal also delivered heartfelt praises earlier in the night, that her canon “is a mind-bending study in versatility” with roles such as a “bio-hazard single mother, a bad ass bar maid, a neurotic blogger, a starlet and a nun.”
“People sometimes presume that when someone is at the top of their game, that they’re a total nightmare. Amy is the opposite, instead she’s a wonderful person,” said Gyllenhaal, “In short, we’re honoring a unicorn, a virtuoso talent with serious chops.”
For Timberlake who worked with Adams in Clint Eastwood’s Trouble With the Curve, Adams is a “karaoke monster” who “bullied me into singing ‘A Whole New World’ from Aladdin” while they were shooting the film in Atlanta, GA. “Quite frankly, I will sing with you anytime. But next time, I’m choosing the god damn song. I have a history with Disney, there’s a whole PTSD,” joked Timberlake. Adams said that Timberlake equally is also a karaoke beast. Recalling their experience, Adams said “There may have been a dance. The tequila part (of the story) was true.” She extolled Timberlake for his excellent work ethic.
Portman never worked with Adams, but is still waiting for “the perfect buddy comedy” to come along for them. Portman said that she “traveled with Amy on the campaign trail” meaning the awards season track. “During these interviews that get repetitive, Amy said something that it was difficult to be an actress because you have to have a thick skin because of all things people say about you, but you have to have a thin skin and be vulnerable when you’re working. She maintains that incredible vulnerability when I see her,” said the Black Swan Oscar winner who balled throughout Arrival when she was five months pregnant last year. It was through Mike Nichols that the duo became acquainted with each other.
Hanks, who worked with Adams on Steven Spielberg’s Catch Me If You Can and Nichol’s Charlie Wilson’s War, said that when Adams first appeared as Brenda Strong in Spielberg’s caper, “The local 50 guys asked who is that woman playing Brenda Strong? Where did she come from? What food did they feed her as a child to become Brenda Strong? She’s a vision. She’s a plane so stellar that telescopes are needed.” Hanks recounted Adams’ path from dinner theater, to landing her first film role in 1999’s Drop Dead Gorgeous which encouraged the actress to move to Los Angeles to pursue a professional acting career.
Adams in her speech remembered how she never wanted to mess up a line in front of Hanks because he was a role model. During production on Charlie Wilson’s War, the sound production assistant had to move Adams’ mic, “because my heart was pounding so loud” said the actress; she was that nervous about potentially flubbing up in front of Hanks.
And while Stewart and Adams shared a small scene in a country house in Walter Salles’ On the Road, it was akin to a little-big sister relationship for the Twilight actress. But for Adams, “I was lactating through my dress. She was cool, just smoking and I’m trying to be cool with the young girls while I’m lactating” joked the actress.
Earlier in the night, in presenting Imax CEOs Gelfond and Foster with the Sid Grauman award, Nolan remembered how he became smitten with the large format when he was a teenager visiting a Chicago amusement park. “These guys have done so much for me and allowed me to make my dreams come true,” said Nolan who began using Imax on Batman Begins. Gelfond taking the podium mentioned how Nolan “strapped Imax cameras on British spitfires” for Dunkirk. “The cameras weren’t insured,” quipped Gelfond. The Imax exec shouted out to filmmakers like the Russo brothers and James Cameron who are passionate about shooting in the format, auteurs “who make sure the theatrical experience can’t be duplicated anywhere else.”
“The sun never sets on the Imax experience,” said Gelfond about the 50-year old company which now counts 1,300 theaters across 76 countries. The large format exhibitor is responsible for such theater amenities as immersive sound, stadium seating and revolutionary visuals. Grauman’s Chinese, Sid’s benchmark, in fact houses a state-of-the-art Imax screen.
Last year, Ridley Scott received the American Cinematheque award, and the year before that was Reese Witherspoon with Jeffrey Katzenberg receiving the Sid Grauman kudo. Two years ago, Witherspoon told Deadline at the tribute, “I was stunned when they asked me because I haven’t had a lifetime of achievement, I’ve only had a half of a lifetime of achievement.”
Portman echoed those sentiments to Adams tonight: the best is yet to come. Said Portman, “You’re too young to be having a lifetime achievement award.”
Some of the presenters confessed to working hours over their speeches, however, if there were words that got to the heart of explaining Adams’ essence as a performer, thumbs up to Messina.
“Amy gets to the deep unexpected truths that lie at the heart of a character, and I look forward to seeing you disappear into more of them in the years to come.”