best films: #65: JUNEBUG (2005)

Let’s take a journey back before Enchanted and Julie & Julia to the days when Amy Adams wasn’t in the process of becoming a household name. Her actual breakthrough performance? Junebug! Following the story of a prodigal son George (Alessandro Nivola) returning with his semi-snooty new wife Madeleine (Embeth Davidtz) to his family’s house down south, the movie is a subtle, spot-on gem. Featuring splendid performances from character actors Celia Weston and Scott Wilson as Mom and Dad, and Benjamin McKenzie and Adams as brother Johnny and his bubbly wife Ashley, its number-one ace-in-the-hole is its stellar, actorly nature. There’s something to be said for a great ensemble cast, and Junebug features one that was certainly deserving of recognition from the Screen Actors Guild (Crash… really?). Add on top of this the great (and infrequent) use of music in the movie, which includes a two-time occurrence of Stevie Wonder find “Harmour Love” sung by the infectiously perky Syreeta. Trust me, it’ll get in your head.

Standout Performance: Adams is clearly the tour-de-force in this one, though she gets a considerable amount of in-house competition from her co-stars. Her initial get-to-know-you convo with Madeleine alone was enough to merit best of the year attention.
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