Will Hillbilly Elegy finally win either Amy Adams or Glenn Close an Oscar?


Director and former Happy Dayser Ron Howard’s latest film trailer dropped yesterday. The film is called Hillbilly Elegy and it has I Want All The Oscars written all over it. Vanessa Taylor has adapted J.D. Vance’s bestselling memoir of the same name. According to the official synopsis, that I got via Kristy Puchko at Pajiba, the story is about:

J.D. Vance (Gabriel Basso), a former Marine from southern Ohio and current Yale Law student, is on the verge of landing his dream job when a family crisis forces him to return to the home he’s tried to forget. J.D. must navigate the complex dynamics of his Appalachian family, including his volatile relationship with his mother Bev (Amy Adams), who’s struggling with addiction. Fueled by memories of his grandmother Mamaw (Glenn Close), the resilient and whip-smart woman who raised him, J.D. comes to embrace his family’s indelible imprint on his personal journey.

As you can see, that’s a pretty powerhouse cast. Not mentioned is Haley Bennett, Freida Pinto and Dylan Gage from Stanger Things. That star power plus the description – wow, right? Well, let’s check it out:

As a Californian, can I say – bless their hearts? They are certainly hurling everything they have on the screen. There’s angst, guilt, disappointment, tortured souls, addiction-fueled chaos, despondency – you name it. If it’s on the Struggle Spectrum, Amy and Glenn are throwing it down. Because that’s who this race is about: two of the most talented actors in this country who have been nominated multiple times for Academy Awards and neither have ever won. Both have actually been robbed of them, in a few cases (my opinion, of course). And these are, without a doubt, Oscar bait roles in an Oscar bait film. But will it be enough to actually land the coveted Gold Man for either? I feel bad for saying this, but I hope not. I desperately want both women to win and many times, but this movie looks awful. Reading the synopsis, I very much wanted to care about any of those characters, but I just don’t. And frankly, Amy and Glenn are chewing up so much of the scenery, there won’t be anything left for anyone else. I get that good actors are often rewarded for undeserving roles, so if someone has to get an Oscar for this, give it to Glenn. At least she spent more time in the prosthetics chair for it.





Photo credit: Netflix

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71 Responses to “Will Hillbilly Elegy finally win either Amy Adams or Glenn Close an Oscar?”

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  1. Lee says:

    Hopefully They’re both very talented!

  2. Lightpurple says:

    Is Glenn Close doing a parody of Cloris Leachman?

    • Esmom says:

      LMAO. I totally see that now that you mention it. All I could see was stereotypes. This film makes me extremely salty, though, because the book was utter trash. JD Vance is inexplicably some hero on the right for this book, which offered up zero solutions or even much analysis of the many issues facing people like his “hillbilly” relatives. I had a long discussion with my local librarians about how breathtakingly bad it was, and how undeserving of the hype.

      • K.T says:

        Esmom, I’m so there with you! Trashy book, conservative trash author with his (white) poverty propaganda. Oh, and that JD Vance success story is that he got free of dem narrowminded Appalachian billies to work in finance with Peter Thiel. It’s the American Dream. *sarcasm
        I’m really losing patience with white people 2020, Ron Howard.

      • Tanguerita says:

        hated the book as well and the trailer looks just as trashy. They both are good actresses, but this is such an obvious tearjerking, tasteless Oscar grab, I feel embarassed for them both.

      • Mumbles says:

        So glad someone said this so early. Vance is a hedge fund creep who with a combination of smarts, hard work, and LUCK, got out of a tough place, but now discounts the luck part and blames the victims. Another fun fact, his mentor in law school is “Tiger Mom” Amy Chua, who used to screen potential female Kavanagh clerks for good looks (her husband has been suspended from Yale for sexual harassment). Between Thiel and those two, you can tell a lot from the company he keeps.

      • Maida says:

        I also really disliked this book, since it plays up all the old “pull yourself up by your bootstraps!” crap about poverty and ignores the systemic issues that make it hard for many people to do that.

        This movie is the Forrest Gumpification of poverty, by the look of it. And I HATED “Forrest Gump” — my brother has serious developmental disabilities and the saccharine, unrealistic way mental disability is treated in that movie made me ragey.

      • Mosie says:

        The deep misogyny that dominates his viewpoints and his contempt for his mother made the book unreadable.

      • jenellesTiktok says:

        He’s a hero to the right because his warmed over Horatio Alger shtick gives them cover to destroy what’s left of anti poverty programs. And if he worked in a hedge fund, his fund probably profited from the same outsourcing of jobs that impoverished working class Americans.

      • Redgrl says:

        All the above – this, absolutely. The cheesy simplification of social issues is not only offensive it’s dangerous, especially now. And the acting just looks so over the top it’s bordering on hammy. Not to mention the really bad make up for Glenn Close.. and everyone seems to have a different accent….

  3. scollins says:

    Loved the book! Stuck with me for a long time. Looking forward to this, both Amy and Glenn.

    • Mika says:

      I found this book to be absolutely hateful in its depiction of the poor, and so full of dog whistles, I could not.

  4. theothercleo says:

    Honestly, the trailer almost made me laugh. It looks really, really bad like everyone involved is trying SO HARD to win a little golden statuette. It actually almost feels like a parody of an Oscar bait movie.

    • LaraK says:

      It’s definitely a little too try-hard.

      At least inject some humor in it. Or something.

    • Sass says:

      Right? Lol. There’s a long running joke that getting “uglied up” for a role will win you an Oscar. 😂

    • lucy2 says:

      I thought the same thing, it was a bit over the top. Possibly they just crammed all the big moments into the trailer, but it seemed kind of exhausting.

      Amy and Glenn both deserve an Oscar at some point though! Amy is one of my all time favorite actresses, and I hope she does win someday.

      • Bettyrose says:

        Ya’ll remember when Amy Adams played a hillbilly in one episode of Buffy? If I get drunk and hate watch this, it’s just to see if she draws on her brief moment in the teenage spotlight for inspiration.

  5. Darla says:

    It just doesn’t interest me. It needs some Raylan Givens.

  6. smcollins says:

    It definitely looks heavy on the drama, and in the hands of any other actresses I might pass, but since it’s Glenn Close & Amy Adams go ahead and bring on all the drama. I’ll start stocking up on tissues now.

  7. Penguin says:

    Looks like a total bore

  8. harper says:

    Poverty Porn: The Book has become Oscar Bait: The Movie.

    OK, that’s shamelessly stolen from The Twitter, but it’s sooooo apt.

    • Minal says:

      Yes! Poverty porn is so gross.

    • Mac says:

      My book club read this and it was one of the rare occasions where we all agreed it was a terrible read. The self aggrandizement was exhausting.

    • CV says:

      OMG thank you! source material is total crap. That guy didn’t just “pick himself up by his (white) bootstraps” and elevating this drivel just makes me ill.

  9. Loretta says:

    I think this time Glenn could have her Oscar

  10. Becks1 says:

    I had no interest in reading this book – I feel like it came out at a time when pundits were desperately trying to explain Trump’s victory and how poor white people in “hill country” feel etc and I just…..am not here for it. I like Amy Adams and Glenn Close but…..I don’t know if I will watch this.

  11. Edna says:

    Is the Academy still anti streaming (especially Netflix)? I thought they didn’t want to give major awards for streaming movies unless they’ve had a legitimate theatrical run.

  12. Mabs A'Mabbin says:


  13. Slowdown says:

    I couldn’t watch the trailer until the end. It looks like a reverse Lifetime film.

  14. Angela says:

    Amy adams DESERVES

  15. gidey_up says:

    I read the book and found it ok. I like both actresses but based on the trailer, this is bottom drawer rubbish.

  16. Lena says:

    I read the book and his take was don’t give government support to those in poverty because it destroys their work ethic. Look at him, he got out of the cycle because he rejected those evil democratic policies. His story was moderately interesting mostly because of his tough as nails grandma. But Glass Castle did it SO much better (although that movie didn’t live up to the book).

    • jenellesTiktok says:

      He got rich by working for a hedge fund whose valuation went up when American jobs got outsourced to cheaper countries. He married a woman who clerked for Brett Kavanaugh before his appointment to SCOTUS.

  17. Layla Beans says:

    God, I hated that book.

  18. Ocho says:

    I am surprised by this movie. I thought JD Vance wrote his book without soap-y theatricality instead wanting to find the historic factors behind why his family, and families like his, lived in a cycle of poverty and drugs, but this is all about the cheesy drama. I thought Vance was headed for a political career, maybe to be a face for a never-Trump conservative party, now I am not so sure.

  19. Kristin says:

    A little off topic here: With no disrespect to Margot Robbie, Amy Adams should have played Tonya Harding in the movie “I Tonya”, because OMG in that header pic she looks EXACTLY like her!

    • OnyxXV says:

      Oh wow! I was thinking she reminded me of someone in that picture – and you are so right, it’s Tonya Harding. Margot Robbie was great in “I, Tonya,” but wow, that resemblance is remarkable.

  20. Chimes@Midnight says:

    The difference between Glenn Close and Meryl Streep:

    Glenn Close will get nominated for an Oscar no matter what she is in. So will Meryl Streep, except she’ll actually win.

  21. MaryContrary says:

    Self identifying coastal elite here: I read this book after Trump won to try and understand these people and the horrible circumstances of their lives. I felt a lot of sympathy. But right now, after having our democracy in free fall from this administration and all I can think is F-you to those people and for most of them voting for Trump. You couldn’t escape your shitty lives and instead of being able to transcend your circumstances-you’ve dragged us all down to the gutter. So no, I’m not going to watch a bunch of actors dressed up like white trash.

    • CV says:

      here here!

    • margedebarge says:

      Hey, born and raised Appalachian queer woman here to say Hillbilly Elegy was a bunch of white man bootstrap bullshit. If that’s the entire basis of your understanding of the region and culture, it makes sense you’d feel the way you do. If you’d like a more comprehensive look at the region’s problems I’d recommend either “Appalachian Reckoning” or “What You Are Getting Wrong About Appalachia”. Of course if you’d prefer to just continue looking down your nose at poor people as white trash, that’s an option too (though not a very interesting or productive one).

      • MaryContrary says:

        I will take a look. And I appreciate your thoughtful response to my snarky, ill tempered post.

      • Digital Unicorn says:

        I will check out those books you recommend – the Appalachian region looks very beautiful and from what i’ve been told by people who’ve visited, the locals are all so friendly and welcoming with a famed hospitality regardless of personal financial circumstances. One colleague commented that he was blown away by the strong sense of family and community that sadly we in the UK have lost.

        One day I would like to visit.

    • Vote Science says:

      I think you make a mistake by assuming all individuals who fall into this socioeconomic and regional group are automatically Trump supporters. Plenty of your fellow wealthy coastal elites voted for and continue to support Trump. Don’t justify your classism with politics.

      And the fact that your only attempt to understand the viewpoint of rural poor people afflicted with generational substance abuse (or as you call them, “white trash”) was reading an embellished memoir by a pretty universally disliked author (as noted on this comment thread) shows your curiosity and sympathy was disingenuous at best.

    • Anna says:

      It’s not only rural whites who are MAGA. That’s the part that people are not recognizing. The white voters for 45 are across economic demographics. It’s just that the wealthier ones might not be as vocal or overt about it. Racism and white supremacy is alive and well at all levels of this country.

  22. Milkweed says:

    They look terrible!

  23. Argus says:

    Amy Adams has transformed herself physically for this role & we know the Academy award voting committee always rewards that. She has the alcoholic puffy face and overall scruffy, roughly lived look down for this movie. That’s harder work than sitting in a make up chair for prosthetic work. So if it’s Oscar baity, I hope she wins even if it’s only for cosmetic reasons. She’s had her turn stolen too many times.

  24. candy says:

    I can’t bring myself to watch the trailer. As someone who actually lives in a rural area surrounded by “hicks,” I hate these silly parodies. First, they usually get the accent wrong. There are many regional and local nuances they miss. And second, people everywhere are complex, which is the big aspect these Hollywood takes on simpletons usually miss. I loved Erin Brockovich, though. That said, Adams has deserved an oscar way back since June Bug.

  25. A Better V says:

    It’s pretty contrived, but the source material is built on the brittle backs of American fallacies so I’m not expecting to be wowed.

    I was raised in the Rust Belt and got out, and Vance merely echoes the propaganda that is fed to people throughout the region — there’s nothing incisive in his analyses, nor does he consider his own luck, privilege, et al. And given the company he keeps and his politics, as well as several anecdotes in the book itself, I don’t expect him to do so; he’s inherently selfish in the same ways for which he condemns his mother. For better insight, N+1’s winter 16/17 issue had a wonderful section devoted to the thinking in these regions. It’s survivalism married to tribalism; the same song and dance as has been done for a millennia.

    Having said that, Close is giving a better performance than Adams based on the trailer. That tense exchange between them is a great example of overacting vs playing off your scene partner. Dull and clownish.

  26. Bettyrose says:

    JFC! This Trump supporting dbag is having his biography adapted into a star studded film? I read the book (before I understood who this author is) but will not be watching this.

  27. AA says:

    I’ll self-ID as someone one generation from Appalachian trash; luckily, my dad got out and made a middle class life for himself and my mom was very far from trash, so I was raised in a normal middle class (or maybe upper middle) life.

    I did read the book and I don’t know how I feel about it, mostly because I spent the entire book thinking it was a creepy parallel biography of my family, down to some of their last names that are the same as those of my family. I have familiarity with that life due to the time I spent with my dad’s side. I thought it was a spot on representation, however distasteful some people found it. I don’t know much about the author as I read it and tried to put it out of my mind. I did recommend it to my brother, who was also like, uh, this is eerie (resembles our family).

    But I feel some people are reacting like my husband, when I tell him stories; his initial reactions are “there’s no way that happened” or “that has to be exaggerated.” Uh, no, it’s all true. So the movie might be OTT, but trust me, I’ve got some OTT stories that are 100% true. My grandmother, while I loved her and she had many positive qualities, was nuts. But she was also wily smart, as are many members of the family. If they could channel that intelligence and cunning into productive things (like my dad did)…well…who knows? But those scenes in the trailer would be a typical day in that family.

    • scollins says:

      At one point in my career I worked with teens from backgrounds like this and agree a lot of people wouldn’t believe their day to day lives. For those who’ve never been poverty stricken it’s unreal. Nope it’s real alright and happening right here in the good old USA.
      My dad was raised in extreme poverty in Appalachia, one of 13 kids, joined the Navy which propelled him out of the cycle.

    • Margo says:

      Thanks for your comments – interesting insight.

  28. waitwhat says:

    After reading all the hate on this book, particularly from people from a rural background, I really want to re-read it and see what I missed. My biggest takeaway from the book was how small-town and rural Americans have been getting screwed for decades as they watched what their parents and grandparents had slip away. Unions were broken, jobs moved overseas, stores closed, buildings decayed, communities suffered and deaths of despair rose. It gave me a better understanding of how a certain segment of Orange Turd’s base came to feel the way they do. And it didn’t make me paint all of small town or rural America with the same brush. Like different city neighborhoods, it’s nuanced. Now I feel like I missed so much!

    • Esmom says:

      Maybe if it had been billed a simply a memoir it would have been less offensive to me but it was hyped as some sociological tour de force. Which was why I was so shocked that while he outlined all these issues, he didn’t even attempt to connect them to policy or to try to offer up any solutions. It was just so lacking in substance considering how it was promoted. I feel like Vance swooped in to capitalize on the Trump reckoning that was happening after the election and just didn’t have the intellect or the inclination to tackle it properly.

    • bettyrose says:

      Those themes are addressed so much better, using actual research and interviews, in the book Strangers in the Own Land by Arlie Hochschild.

      • scollins says:

        Or Sarah Smarsh’s Heartland; A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth.

      • bettyrose says:

        Thank you! That’s the 2nd great book recommendation I’ve gotten from this site in as many days. If I’m quiet for awhile, it’s because I have so much reading to catch up on.

      • Kelly says:

        Hill Women by Cassie Chambers is another good read on growing up in Appalachia. The author, an Ivy League grad from rural Kentucky, describes how much she learned from grandmother and aunt, both of whom never left rural Kentucky. She now works in Kentucky, helping pass a law eliminating a requirement that domestic abuse survivors have to pay for their incarcerated partner’s legal fees in order to get a divorce.

  29. Prana says:

    Glenn Close is bringing the grandma from Garfield’s Christmas to life!

  30. ChillyWilly says:

    Omg, Amy looks exactly like Tonya Harding! Yikes…
    Also, if I want to see a Hillbilly Elegy I can just drive about 20 miles south of my house in Akron, Ohio and visit the local Family Dollar.

  31. Kelly says:

    I work for a major public university that does an annual campus-wide book discussion event. The book chosen is selected by a committee composed of people from many areas of campus, and most choices are timely, interesting and well written books. Previous selections include Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, I am Malala, and Matthew Desmond’s Evicted, and Dave Cullen’s Parkland. With the exception of I am Malala and this year’s selection, the authors all come to campus to give a talk and have a discussion with people from campus who are knowledgeable about the subject. The committee chose Hillbilly Elegy in 2017.

    I had read the book prior to its selection, and wasn’t that impressed with it. I thought that Vance needed a better editor, one that would have cut back on the repetitions and redundancies in it. I also didn’t buy his narrative of pulling himself by his bootstraps. I felt he got lucky and either didn’t or wasn’t willing to acknowledge being the beneficiary of affirmative action, in his case socio-economic first generation college. I felt the committee selected it because it was the hot book about trying to understand why people voted against their own best interests in voting for Trump and the GOP in 2016.

    Vance didn’t end up coming to campus. Word of mouth from what I heard was that Vance’s agency and campus couldn’t agree on a speaking fee and there was some conflict with people who were on the planned panel, including one nationally renowned faculty member known for their research on poverty and higher ed. I knew people who were involved in trying to book him and their impression was that he was arrogant and thought doing this event was beneath him. Nevermind that campus had purchased thousands of copies of his shitty book to give out to all incoming freshmen and to interested members of the campus community.

    It was probably for the best he didn’t come. There were better books that could have been chosen, but campus wanted to get the hot one.

  32. Kelsea says:

    I’m an actor and I try not to pass judgement on other people’s art, but getting though that without giggling took everything in me.

  33. Margo says:

    I really enjoyed the book – it was truly a fascinating read about how the people of Appalachia moved to the mid-west for good jobs in factories and then watched those good jobs leave just as their children became working age. Add in the oxy and boom – an American dream becomes an American nightmare. Amy Adams and Glenn Close – wow, what amazing casting. Ron Howard directing! This one is going to be a beautifully filmed, compelling story with top-notch performances.

  34. Sarah says:

    I enjoyed the book. I will have to re-read it because some of the comments made here don’t match my memories. I don’t remember him blaming people for their own problems. Some points I remember – he didn’t know what it was like to.wear pyjamas – he always slept in his underwear. Pyjamas would have been a luxury. Joining the army changed his life and helped teach him life skills. He didn’t know you could negotiate to buy a car and he had no idea how to manage finances because he was never taught how. He didn’t know how to prepare for an interview. The first time he went to a nice dinner at College he spat out his sparkling water because he thought there was something wrong with it. Coming from poverty puts you at a disadvantage socially if you go to college, especially elite institutions because you don’t know how to navigate situations that middle and upper class kids have already been exposed to in life.

  35. Cdvanwyck says:

    This is so disgusting. As someone who lives and works in rural Appalachia this deeply offensive. These communities have been exploited for centuries and they don’t need this too.

    Man this really lowers my opinion of Amy Adams and Ron Howard.