Amy Adams says that when she's working on a film her task is "just to pay attention to the story" -- not potential awards success
Spike Jonze & The Cinema Society Host a Screening of Paramount Pictures' "Arrival"
Credit: Paul Bruinooge/Patrick McMullan/Getty

In the past 10 years, Amy Adams has been nominated an impressive five times in the acting categories at the Academy Awards. And with two critically praised films in 2016, it’s looking more and more likely that she’ll add a sixth nod next year.

Still, Adams, 42, is always surprised by the recognition and told PEOPLE at the Spike Jonze-hosted screening of her alien drama Arrival in New York Tuesday that her focus is never on winning awards.

“You don’t think about it at all… With Arrival and Nocturnal Animals, they’re both sort of atypical in their storytelling approach,” she explains. “And so, for me, I knew that there was a certain amount of faith and trust that it took from the filmmakers, the editors, the cinematographer.”

She tells PEOPLE, “When you’re filming, my only job is not to think about awards. Not to think about, you know, the box office, but just to pay attention to the story.”

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In Arrival, in theaters now, Adams stars alongside Jeremy Renner as linguist Dr. Louise Banks, who is tasked with communicating with aliens that have touched down on earth.

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Of Banks, Adams says, “What I love about playing her is that she’s somebody who is so trusting of her instincts and her intellect. And although I’m somebody who’s learned to really listen to my intuition, I don’t necessarily follow it as often as I should. That was really awesome about her.”