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Sometimes Amy Adams seems too good to be true. She’s like a throwback movie star: beautiful in an apple pie, All American way, sexy, serious, lovely in person, hard working. She’s 42, looks 32, and has quite a nice resume– all classy films, no junk, a few Oscar nominations. From “Junebug” to “Catch me if You Can” to “The Fighter” and “American Hustle,” you can’t get enough of her.

So now Adams comes this fall with a one-two punch that should land her an Oscar nomination and maybe a win. It’s her year, that’s for sure. In Tom Ford’s “Nocturnal Animals,” a masterpiece by the way, Adams carries the two main story threads. Even when she’s off camera you’re thinking about her. That’s quite an accomplishment!

And then there’s the sci-fi “Arrival,” in which she’s basically playing Richard Dreyfuss from “Close Encounters” except this film by Denis Villeneuve is more like Terrence Malick in space. A visually rich film (well so is “Nocturnal Animals”) “Arrival” is also poetic and philosophical. Adams again carries the main story as it becomes less and less about an alien invasion and more about her character Louise’s tragic struggle.

“Nocturnal Animals” though is the Big Deal. Ford, the designer of ridiculously overpriced fashion, made one other film, “A Single Man,” a few years ago. It was a gorgeous debut, and quite unexpected. “Single Man” was also incredibly stylized. One wondered if all Ford’s films — if more were to come– would look the same.

This one does, and it doesn’t. With a heavy nod to Douglas Sirk (and to Todd Haynes, who already saluted Sirk in “Far from Heaven”) Ford mixes that same cool, minimalist feel with what is essentially pulp fiction– a revenge movie starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Shannon (each doing their best work) within a modern soap opera starring Adams and Armie Hammer as desperately good looking and unhappy rich people. And just so we get it, Amy’s art gallery features a black and white painting of the word REVENGE. Does Ford have to paint us a picture?

Ford is as devoted to Sirk as Brian de Palma is to Hitchock– in fact, I was thinking of “Body Double” a lot during the screening because Ford mimics dePalma’s cool veneer. Polish composer Abel Korzeniowski drives the Sirk reference home and cinematographer Seamus McGarvey manages to make the 50s come alive in 2016.

More on both of these films when we get to their releases.

 

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