hillbilly elegy cast

Amy Adams is set to star in Ron Howard’s Hillbilly Elegy, a film penned by The Shape of Water scribe Vanessa Taylor that was picked up by Netflix. With Adams in the lead, the entire project just screams Oscar bait, a Best Picture statuette that still eludes Netflix, despite its expensive campaigns. But now with Adams likely to deliver yet another awards-worthy performance, Netflix better get its act together and resolve its feud with the Academy and film festivals so that Adams can finally win that long overdue Oscar.

Variety reports that Adams will star in Howard’s Hillbilly Elegy, an adaptation of J.D. Vance’s bestselling memoir of the same name. According to Variety, the film is a “modern exploration of the American dream and follows three generations of an Appalachian family as told by its youngest member, a Yale law student forced to return to his hometown.”

Adams won’t likely play this main protagonist, but whatever supporting role she’s cast in will likely be a juicy one — the actress has been on a hot streak of awards acclaim, earning a Golden Globe for her role in Sharp Objects last year and getting an Oscar nod for her performance as Lynne Cheney in Vice. However, that long-deserved Oscar win remains outside her grasp (though she should have won one three times over). Perhaps Hillbilly Elegy will finally earn her that win.

Here is the book synopsis for Hillbilly Elegy:

The Vance family story begins hopefully in postwar America. J. D.’s grandparents were “dirt poor and in love,” and moved north from Kentucky’s Appalachia region to Ohio in the hopes of escaping the dreadful poverty around them. They raised a middle-class family, and eventually their grandchild (the author) would graduate from Yale Law School, a conventional marker of their success in achieving generational upward mobility.

But as the family saga of Hillbilly Elegy plays out, we learn that this is only the short, superficial version. Vance’s grandparents, aunt, uncle, sister, and, most of all, his mother, struggled profoundly with the demands of their new middle-class life, and were never able to fully escape the legacy of abuse, alcoholism, poverty, and trauma so characteristic of their part of America. Vance piercingly shows how he himself still carries around the demons of their chaotic family history.

Imagine has been developing the movie since 2017 when it acquired the rights and Netflix snatched up the rights earlier this year for a whopping $45 million. Vance’s book, titled in full Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis, was a surprise bestseller in 2016, staying on the bestseller lists for 74 weeks though picking up its fair share of controversy in that time. The book became a political lightning rod, with conservatives hailing the memoir as an brilliant portrayal of the white underclass, while liberals criticized Vance for his “damaging rhetoric” and endorsing policies used to “gut the poor.” Appalachian “hillbillies” also denounced Vance’s portrayal of the communities in the memoir.

However, we’ll see if Howard’s film can address those issues by the time it inevitably makes it to the award circuit in a few years.

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