First up (in the UK) is Nocturnal Animals, designer-turned-filmmaker Tom Ford's three-sided drama about a woman facing the fall-out from a failed relationship. Ford remembers the moment he decided he wanted to work with Adams. "I think American Hustle was the first time a lot of us realised how beautiful she was," he says. "God, how beautiful her breasts are! It was a surprise. It was like, wow! As a gay fashion designer and not a lecherous straight man, I can say that."

Amy Adams in Nocturnal Animals

For her part, Adams was impressed with how Ford planned to tell such a complicated story. "It seemed nearly impossible," says the 42-year-old actress. "And that became very attractive to me. Tom explained in such a beautiful way how he would use music, sound and light to pull us in and out of story and time and space. I'm a great fan of his work. He's been successful in so many domains - perfumes, clothes, movies. He's always so impeccably elegant, so perfect, and that always makes me feel a little unkempt next to him! But really he doesn't care at all."

Even more intriguing was her character's internal journey. "I understood the emotional existence of this woman," Adams says. "I'm somebody who's a bit more of an organic creature. I'm not necessarily as poised as this character is. But Tom is very poised, so I used him a lot. He'd be like, 'Lay on the couch and read.' I'm like, 'Okay, well, you lay on the couch and show me how you would read.'"

More: Read a review for Nocturnal Animals

With another lead role this month in the sci-fi drama Arrival, Adams is one of the few actresses over 40 for whom there's no shortage of work. This is a topic she used to fret about, but now understandably isn't worried. "I'm contented and comfortable with who I am," she says. "I'm not trying to meet expectations, and that permits a liberty in my work, a freedom I hadn't explored before."

She'd love to flip her image on its head and play someone like the lusty Aldonza in a remake of The Man of La Mancha. "She sings, 'Born on a dung heap to die on a dung heap  /  A strumpet men use and forget,'" Adams laughs. "But that's not going to happen anytime soon, since I'm not an old Spanish whore. You know, you come to an understanding of yourself."

Watch the trailer for Nocturnal Animals: