- Amy Adams is best known for films like “Enchanted” (2007) and “Arrival” (2016).
- According to critics, the actress’ highest-rated movies are “Catch Me If You Can” (2002) and “Her” (2013).
- However, critics didn’t love “Serving Sara” (2002) or “The Wedding Date” (2005).
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Amy Adams is a six-time Academy Award nominee who has wowed critics with her comedic talent as well as her dramatic range.
Insider took a look back at Adams’ career and ranked her filmography from worst to best according to critic scores on Rotten Tomatoes.
Note: All scores were current on the date of publication and are subject to change. Films without critical scores were not included.
Adams’ lowest-rated film is “Serving Sara” (2002).
Rotten Tomatoes score: 4%
Summary: In “Serving Sara,” attorney Joe Tyler (Matthew Perry) works with Sara (Elizabeth Hurley) to get back at her husband (Bruce Campbell) and his new girlfriend Kate (Adams) during their unexpected divorce proceedings.
Although “Serving Sara” is a comedy, reviewers thought the laughs were few and far between.
“Romantic comedy ought to have some romance and laughs, but this extraordinarily flat effort has neither,” Hank Sartin wrote for the Chicago Reader.
In “The Wedding Date” (2005), she played Amy.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 11%
Summary: After her Kat’s (Debra Messing) sister Amy (Adams) sets a date for her wedding and she realises that her ex-boyfriend will be the groom’s best man, Kat decides to hire a male escort (Dermot Mulroney) as a wedding date to make her ex jealous.
Most critics wrote “The Wedding Date” off as a forgettable and boring affair.
The actress voiced Polly in “Underdog” (2007).
Rotten Tomatoes score: 16%
Summary: After a lab accident, a beagle (voiced by Jason Lee) becomes a crime-fighting superhero overnight. With his newfound powers, Underdog defends his home of Capitol City and falls for Polly Purebred (voiced by Adams).
The majority of film critics thought that “Underdog” was cute but too formulaic.
“At just over 80 minutes it feels not so much like a proper film as a piece of extended filler for slow afternoons on Disney’s TV channels,” James Rocarols wrote for BBC.
She was Kathryn in “Cruel Intentions 2” (2000).
Rotten Tomatoes score: 17%
Summary: In the prequel to “Cruel Intentions” (1999), Kathryn Merteuil (Adams), the daughter of a wealthy socialite, attends an upscale prep school and plays mind games with her new stepbrother Sebastian Valmont (Robin Dunne).
The direct-to-video prequel was originally meant to be a TV series. When the show was cancelled, the footage was reconfigured into a film, and critics agreed that the movie suffered because of the format change.
“If he intended to produce a straightforward two-hour original prequel, the writer-director would have made certain that the script was less meandering,” Ted Murphy wrote for Baseline Hollywood.
Adams played Abby March in “The Ex” (2007).
Rotten Tomatoes score: 18%
Summary: In “The Ex,” Tom Reilly (Zach Braff) starts a new job to support his family but soon realises that his boss (Jason Bateman) was his wife’s (Amanda Peet) high-school sweetheart.
Adams had a brief appearance as Abby March.
Although some critics admired the leading cast’s acting ability, “The Ex” was largely panned for its over-the-top plot.
“Braff has a natural likability, but the screenplay gives him so many stupid, far-fetched and annoying things to do that ‘The Ex’ loses credibility quickly,” Hap Erstein wrote for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
In the romantic comedy “Leap Year” (2010), she starred as Anna.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 23%
Summary: When Anna (Adams) learns of an Irish tradition in which women propose to their partners on leap day, she flies to Ireland to surprise her boyfriend (Adam Scott). But along the way, Anna meets the cynical Irishman Declan (Matthew Goode), who makes her rethink her relationship.
Most critics considered “Leap Year” to be a generic romantic comedy that wore thin toward the end, but Adams’ performance was seen as a silver lining.
“The bright spot in this boggy botched mess is Amy Adams, a fine and always interesting actress who sparkles and shines here despite the stilted storyline,” Neil Pond wrote for American Profile.
The actress starred as Bev in “Hillbilly Elegy” (2020).
Rotten Tomatoes score: 25%
Summary: Based on the memoir by J.D. Vance, “Hillbilly Elegy” centres on three generations of an Appalacian family – Mamaw (Glenn Close), Bev (Adams), and J.D. Vance (Gabriel Basso) – through the perspective of the youngest member as he’s forced to return home from Yale Law School.
Critics weren’t impressed with the Netflix film, citing its unlikable characters and uneven performances as some of its downfalls.
“‘Hillbilly Elegy’ isn’t as terrible as the trailers make it look, but as an enterprise it’s just all – around sad, a movie that courts sympathy for its characters yet ends up only as a requiem for itself,” Stephanie Zacharek wrote for Time magazine.
The actress played Lois Lane in “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” (2016).
Rotten Tomatoes score: 29%
Summary: In the aftermath of Clark Kent’s (Henry Cavill) city-wide battle in Metropolis, Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) starts to view the superhero as a threat and plans a way to take out his new adversary.
Adams appeared as Lois Lane in the DC superhero flick.
Critics felt like their senses were bombarded by the endless action in “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.”
“If only the film actually had depth, along with a little levity to lighten the bulk in the script, the visual murk and the sonic overkill,” Peter Howell wrote for The Toronto Star.
She was Emily in the family drama “Lullaby” (2014).
Rotten Tomatoes score: 30%
Summary: After his father (Richard Jenkins) announces his plans to take himself off life support, Jonathan (Garrett Hedlund) uses his precious time left with his dad to reconnect with his family and his lost love Emily (Adams).
Critics blamed the poor reception of “Lullaby” on its low-level cinematography and cardboard-thin characters.
“A film like ‘Lullaby’ should both enlighten and inspire debate,”Christy Lemire wrote for Roger Ebert. “Instead, it feels simultaneously superficial and overbearing, albeit with a few moments that do indeed resonate.”
Adams played Elise in the comedy “Standing Still” (2005).
Rotten Tomatoes score: 36%
Summary: In “Standing Still,” old friends come together to celebrate the wedding of Elise (Adams) and Michael (Adam Garcia) during a weekend packed with wild bachelor parties and a whirlwind of secrets.
The majority of critics said that “Standing Still” plodded along with a drawn-out narrative.
“The aptly named ‘Standing Still,’ about postcollegiate 20-somethings, has the dramatic momentum of a daisy-picking toddler,” Jeannette Catsoulis wrote for The New York Times.
In the comedic drama “Pumpkin” (2002), she appeared as Alex.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 37%
Summary: In “Pumpkin,” sorority girl Carolyn McDuffy (Christina Ricci) tries to score brownie points at school by helping athletes with disabilities. Although her mission is initially misguided, she soon falls for shot-put athlete Pumpkin Romanoff (Hank Harris).
Adams had a small supporting role in the film as Alex.
Unapologetically profane, “Pumpkin” was largely panned for grossly mishandling its subject matter.
Film critic Emanuel Levy wrote, “Rambling and diffuse, this debut film vacillates between the Farrelly brotthers’ [sic] gross-out comedy and a softer, kinder message film, an incoherent blend that proves frustrating and not particularly enjoyable either.”
The actress returned as Lois Lane in “Justice League” (2017).
Rotten Tomatoes score: 40%
Summary: In “Justice League,” Batman (Affleck) calls upon Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), Aquaman (Jason Momoa), the Flash (Ezra Miller), and Cyborg (Ray Fisher) to face off against the supervillain Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds)
Adams returned as Clark Kent/Superman’s girlfriend, Lois Lane.
Although most film critics liked “Justice League” more than its prior instalment, “Batman v Superman,” they still found it overlong and imperfect.
“‘Justice League’ clears the spectacularly low bar set by ‘Batman v Superman,'” Matthew Norman wrote for the London Evening Standard. “Whether bare adequacy is a compelling reason to extend the franchise is another matter.”
She was Jane in “On the Road” (2012).
Rotten Tomatoes score: 44%
Summary: Based on the real-life experiences detailed in the novel by Jack Kerouac, “On the Road” follows writer Sal Paradise (Sam Riley), Dean Moriarty (Hedlund), and Marylou (Kristen Stewart) as they embark on a cross-country road trip.
Adams played Jane, who is based on the real historical figure Joan Vollmer.
Although most critics loved Kerouac’s classic novel, many felt that it translated poorly to the screen.
“[Director] Walter Salles’s warm but strangely staid adaptation of a piece of literature that was never meant to be tamed as cinema,” Ann Hornaday wrote for The Washington Post.
Adams portrayed Amelia Earhart in “Night at the Museum 2: Battle of the Smithsonian” (2009).
Rotten Tomatoes score: 45%
Summary: In “Night at the Museum 2: Battle of the Smithsonian,” Larry Daley (Ben Stiller) returns to help the living exhibits – including Teddy Roosevelt (Robin Williams),Amelia Earheart (Adams), and Ahkmenrah (Rami Malek) – at the Smithsonian when the source of their magic is threatened.
The “Night at the Museum” sequel earned mixed reviews from critics, but many welcomed Adams’ presence in the film.
“Amy Adams is the lone saving grace to be found herein, which is a nice way of saying she’s all that kept me from pondering ‘to be or not to be,'” Rob Humanick wrote for The Projection Booth.
In “Drop Dead Gorgeous” (1999), she was Leslie Miller.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 46%
Summary: In the dark comedy “Drop Dead Gorgeous,” beauty contestants in the small town of Mount Rose, Minnesota, vie for the crown in a cut-throat competition.
Critics fell in love with the cast of “Drop Dead Gorgeous” but felt like some of the dark humour fell flat.
“Energetically acted but too in love with its own outrageousness, ‘Drop Dead Gorgeous’ goes for the jugular of beauty pageant culture and ends up leaving only a hickey,” Brian Farnham wrote for Citysearch.
The actress played Mickey in “Trouble With the Curve” (2012).
Rotten Tomatoes score: 51%
Summary: In the sports drama “Trouble With the Curve,” Mickey (Adams) joins her father Gus Lobel (Clint Eastwood) on a scouting trip to North Carolina to recruit new baseball players. Along the way, they meet rival scout Johnny (Justin Timberlake).
Although the script and story left something to be desired, the film was elevated, in critics’ opinions, by the star-studded cast.
“The narrative feels almost intentionally hokey and diagrammatic, a framework that gives the actors freedom to display their best-known qualities,” Jake Wilson wrote for The Age.
She had a small cameo in “Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny” (2006).
Rotten Tomatoes score: 52%
Summary: In “Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny,” wannabe rock stars JB (Jack Black) and KG (Kyle Gass) set their sights on fame and stardom after JB is inspired by Black Sabbath front man Ronnie James Dio.
Adams had a brief cameo in the film that was credited as “Gorgeous Woman.”
Film critics had mixed feelings about “Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny,” which was called enthusiastic, lazy, and overtly silly.
“‘The Pick of Destiny’ ain’t going to win any awards, and the girls don’t get much of a look-in, but it will strike a few power chords with a certain generation that is too old to disco and too young to die,” Paul Arendt wrote for the BBC.
Adams played Marvel Ann in “Psycho Beach Party” (2000).
Rotten Tomatoes score: 55%
Summary: Set in 1962, the slasher comedy “Psycho Beach Party,” follows Florence “Chicklet” Forrest (Lauren Ambrose) as she flirts and surfs in a small beach town. But when Florence starts blacking out while severed body parts start popping up on the beach, she wonders if she’s responsible.
Adams had a supporting role as Marvel Ann, the girlfriend of surfer dude Starcat (Nicholas Brendon).
“Psycho Beach Party” split critics down the middle, with some loving the campy humour and others feeling like the satire was laid on a little too thick.
“It’s all enjoyable enough, but it’s played so broadly that it loses whatever impact it might have had,” David Nusair wrote for Reel Film Reviews.
In “Man of Steel” (2013), she made her first appearance as Lois Lane.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 56%
Summary: In “Man of Steel,” superhuman Clark Kent (Cavill) discovers more about his past as he takes on his role as Superman on Earth. At the same time, news reporter Lois Lane (Adams) tries to piece together the man behind the myth.
Serviceable but hardly a crowd-pleaser, “Man of Steel” had a lot of critics longing for the earlier versions of Superman.
The actress portrayed Lynne Cheney in “Vice” (2018).
Rotten Tomatoes score: 65%
Some critics were unimpressed with the winding direction of “Vice,” but most praised the range of the lead performances.
“What is perhaps most remarkable about Bale’s and Adams’s performances is that they supply depth and nuance to a film whose director appears to have had no appetite for either quality,”Christopher Orr wrote for The Atlantic.
She played Susan in the comedy “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby” (2006).
Rotten Tomatoes score: 71%
Summary: In the comedy “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby,” NASCAR driver Ricky Bobby (Will Ferrell) has to crawl his way back to the top when his record-winning streak is broken by French rival Jean Girard (Sacha Baron Cohen).
Adams starred alongside Ferrell as Susan, Ricky Bobby’s former assistant.
Relentlessly silly and full of heart, “Talladega Nights” was best enjoyed by critics when they turned their brains off and just went with it.
“Broad but not crude, dumb but not witless, clever but still snot-spittingly funny,” wrote the staff of Time Out magazine. “Stupidly brilliant, in other words.”
Adams was Margaret Keane in “Big Eyes” (2014).
Rotten Tomatoes score: 72%
Summary: Based on a true story, “Big Eyes” centres on painter Walter Keane (Christoph Waltz) and his meteoric rise to fame in the art world after he claimed ownership of the paintings created by his wife Margaret (Adams).
Critics admired director Tim Burton’s more subtle approach to directing and the nuanced performances he captured from his leads in “Big Eyes.”
“It’s not the kind of performance that screams for attention,”Wendy Ide wrote for The Times. “But as the artist Margaret Keane, Amy Adams is quietly extraordinary.”
In “The Slaughter Rule” (2002), she played Doreen.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 74%
Summary: After receiving devastating family news and getting cut from his high-school football team, Roy Chutney (Ryan Gosling) gets a chance at redemption when a local semipro coach recruits him for a six-man team.
Adams had a supporting role in “The Slaughter Rule” as Roy’s classmate, Doreen.
Critics were blown away by the debut effort of the directors and impressed with the young but talented cast at the helm of “The Slaughter Rule.”
She played Susan Morrow in “Nocturnal Animals” (2016).
Rotten Tomatoes score: 74%
Summary: In the romantic thriller “Nocturnal Animals,” based on the book by Austin Wright, gallery owner Susan Morrow (Adams) tries to move on from a hidden past with her new husband. But after her ex, Edward Sheffield (Jake Gyllenhaal), releases a haunting novel, Susan finds olds secrets rising to the surface.
Some reviewers felt like the narrative of the film was messy, but the majority of critics marveled at the cinematography and visual spectacle of “Nocturnal Animals.”
“[Director Tom] Ford uses his gift for striking visuals to create a must-see,” Mara Reinstein wrote for Us Weekly.
The actress starred as Rose in the independent drama “Sunshine Cleaning” (2009).
Rotten Tomatoes score: 75%
Summary: In the dramatic comedy “Sunshine Cleaning,” Rose (Adams) and her sister Norah Lorkowski (Emily Blunt) make extra cash by cleaning up crime scenes. Although they couldn’t be more different, the tough job helps them grow closer as siblings.
Several critics felt like the film could have benefited from better plotting, but most lent particular praise to Adams’ strong lead performance.
“[Christine] Jeffs makes a good fist of the direction and Blunt proves that she can do comedy, but it’s Adams’s comforting, charismatic central turn which really gives the film its lift,”David Jenkins wrote for Time Out.
Adams portrayed writer Julie Powell in “Julie and Julia” (2009).
Rotten Tomatoes score: 77%
Summary: Based on the autobiographical novel by Julie Powell, “Julie and Julie” compares the interconnected lives of chef Julia Child (Meryl Streep) in 1950s Paris and writer Julie Powell (Amy Adams) in 2002 New York as Julie tries to tackle every recipe in Child’s famous cookbook within a year.
With a pair of loveable leads and witty writing, “Julie and Julia” received high praise from critics.
“I left feeling surprisingly buoyant, with a warm heart, and a smile,” Kate Rodger wrote for Newshub.
In “Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day” (2008), she was Delysia Lafosse.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 78%
Summary: After governess Guinevere Pettigrew (Frances McDormand) is unceremoniously let go from her job, she quickly picks up a secretary position working for American actress Delysia Lafosse (Adams). As Delysia builds up Miss Pettigrew’s confidence, she helps the actress sort out her love life in return.
Although the film was light and airy, sometimes to a fault, critics still adored McDormand and Adams in the romantic comedy.
“It’s lucky that Amy Adams and Frances McDormand lend their best charms to ‘Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day,’ otherwise this featherweight Art Deco fancy might drift away like a soap bubble, and go ‘pop!'” Anthony Quinn wrote for the Independent.
The actress played Sister James in the religious drama “Doubt” (2008).
Rotten Tomatoes score: 80%
Summary: In “Doubt,” elementary school instructors Sister Aloysius Beauvier (Streep) and Sister James (Adams) receive backlash from the congregation after they accuse Father Brendan Flynn (Philip Seymour Hoffman) of sexual assault.
Critics said that the film’s slow buildup rewarded patient viewers with an emotional conclusion.
“It is an acting showcase with big questions and few answers, but for those willing to take the journey, it is an experience well worth having,” wrote film critic Matthew Lucas.
She was Bonnie Bach in “Charlie Wilson’s War” (2007).
Rotten Tomatoes score: 82%
Summary: Set in the early 1980s, “Charlie Wilson’s War” details the real-life efforts of US Congressman Charlie Wilson (Tom Hanks) and CIA operative Gust Avrakotos (Hoffman) to help Afghan freedom fighters during the Soviet-Afghan War.
Adams had a supporting role in the film as Wilson’s assistant, Bonnie Bach.
With strong writing and a well-balanced script, “Charlie Wilson’s War” was received as a winning picture.
“Aaron Sorkin has written an acute, hilarious, and informative screenplay which is rich with character, and is perfect fodder for director Mike Nichols, who has a knack for meshing comedy and drama,” wrote film critic Matthew Pejkovic.
Adams starred as Peggy Dodd in “The Master” (2012).
Rotten Tomatoes score: 85%
Summary: In the aftermath of World War II, veteran Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix) thinks he’s returning home to an empty future until charismatic cult leader Lancaster Dodd (Hoffman) and his wife Peggy (Adams) welcome Freddie into their community.
Critics said that although “The Master” was a heavy drama, the story and performances made it worth watching.
“In the end it may not have the emotional uplift the Academy or a popular mainstream audience craves, but make no mistake, this is an enthralling drama about a peculiarly American restlessness, and the striving for insight and grace,” Tom Charity wrote for CNN.
In “Junebug” (2005), she played Ashley.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 86%
Summary: In “Junebug,” art curator Madeleine (Embeth Davidtz) experiences culture shock when she visits her husband’s large Southern family in North Carolina and befriends her new sister-in-law Ashley (Adams).
Critics clamored to praise Adams’ performance in “Junebug,” a role that led to her first Academy Award nomination.
Kathy Cano Murillo wrote for the Arizona Republic, “Thanks to Adams’ performance and [a] strong story, it makes for a mildly entertaining Southern-fried experience.”
The actress played Charlene Fleming in “The Fighter” (2010).
Rotten Tomatoes score: 90%
Summary: In the sports drama “The Fighter,” welterweight boxer Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg) hires his half-brother Dicky Eklund (Bale) as his boxing coach to train for the Intercontinental Lightweight title.
Adams starred alongside Wahlberg as Micky’s girlfriend, Charlene Fleming.
With brutal action sequences and breakneck pacing, “The Fighter” was a hit with critics, mostly due to its talented cast.
“The performances from Christian Bale, Melissa Leo, and Amy Adams in ‘The Fighter’ are the very definition of a masterclass in acting,” Danielle Solzman wrote for Solzy at the Movies.
She was Sydney Prosser in “American Hustle” (2013).
Rotten Tomatoes score: 92%
Summary: Inspired by a true story, “American Hustle” follows 1970s con artists Sydney Prosser (Adams) and Irving Rosenfeld (Bale) as they find themselves in hot water with the mafia and are forced to cooperate with FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper).
Critics called “American Hustle” an imperfect but electrifying crime film.
“The story stumbles ever so slight but it is ultimately fun, brilliantly acted and incredibly stylish,” wrote film critic Katie Smith-Wong.
Adams starred as Princess Giselle in “Enchanted” (2007).
Rotten Tomatoes score: 93%
Summary: When she falls from the magical land of Andalasia into the chaotic world of Manhattan, bubbly Princess Giselle (Adams) struggles to adapt to life in the city as she befriends cynical lawyer Robert (Patrick Dempsey).
Led by the energetic and infectious charm of Adams, “Enchanted” was hard for critics to resist.
“Like the Cinderella figure she plays in Disney’s ‘Enchanted,’ Amy Adams spreads a contagion of delight,” Joe Morgenstern wrote for The Wall Street Journal. “The movie is great fun, but she’s enchanting.”
In the sci-fi drama “Arrival” (2016), she played Louise Banks.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 94%
Summary: When an otherworldly spaceship makes contact with Earth, linguist expert Louise Banks (Adams) and her team of scientists attempt to communicate with the alien species and decipher their language in “Arrival.”
Reviewers praised “Arrival” as an intelligent and affecting science-fiction film.
“‘Arrival’ plays with your head as gently as any sci-fi thriller I can remember,” Will Leitch wrote for The New Republic.
The actress starred alongside Jason Segel in “The Muppets” (2011).
Rotten Tomatoes score: 95%
Summary: Muppet fans Gary (Jason Segel), Mary (Adams), and Walter (voiced by Peter Linz) travel to Los Angeles to get the Muppets back together for one last show after a conniving oilman threatened to tear down their beloved Muppet Theatre.
Colourful, cheerful, and simply fun, “The Muppets” was a winning film for all ages, according to critics.
She was Amy in the futuristic drama “Her” (2013).
Rotten Tomatoes score: 95%
Summary: In “Her,” reserved writer Theodore Twombly (Phoenix) develops romantic feelings for his artificially intelligent computer system named Samantha (voiced by Scarlett Johansson).
Adams had a supporting role in “Her” as Theodore’s neighbour and friend Amy.
Thoughtful and warm, “Her” was praised for its clever send-up of romantic-comedy tropes.
“It is a sweet-natured and melancholy film, beautifully directed, that manages to be satirical about love in a digital, distracted age without losing its heartfelt quality,” Geoffrey Macnab wrote for the Independent.
Her highest-rated film is “Catch Me If You Can” (2002).
Rotten Tomatoes score: 96%
Summary: Based on a true story, “Catch Me If You Can” details the unbelievable life of Frank Abagnale Jr. (Leonardo DiCaprio), a con artist who posed as a pilot, doctor, and lawyer for years as he evaded the FBI.
Adams had a supporting role as Brenda, a young nurse who falls for Frank.
With a winding narrative and charismatic leads, “Catch Me If You Can” was praised across the board.
“[Steven] Spielberg rediscovers his sense of fun with this funny, frivolous con caper,” Nev Pierce wrote for the BBC.