Oscar Movie Review: American Hustle

There’s one in every Oscar class.

Every year, in every group of Best Picture nominees, there is at least one movie that is divisive, that may be critically or popularly unloved, yet, it gets the nomination for the Big Prize. Sometimes, this scrutiny may be deserved (In the case of The Tree of Life, for instance). In others, it may not be (Winter’s Bone comes to mind). This year, the most divisive movie on the ballot is a David O. Russell-directed movie that is up for ten Academy Awards, and has broken the record for the lowest necklines in film history.

This is actually the smallest amount of cleavage that Amy Adams displays in this movie. I’m dead serious.

American Hustle

Directed by: David O. Russell

Produced by: Charles Roven, Richard Suckle, Megan Ellison

Written by: Eric Warren Singer, David O. Russell

Genre: Crime Drama, Dark Comedy

Starring: Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Renner, Jennifer Lawrence (Be still, my beating heart!!!)

Other actors: Louis C.K., Jack Huston, Michael Pena, Robert De Niro

Oscar Nominations: Best Picture,Best Director, Best Actor (Christian Bale), Best Actress (Amy Adams), Best Supporting Actor (Bradley Cooper), Best Supporting Actress (Jennifer Lawrence), Best Writing-Original Screenplay, Best Production Design, Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing

Plot: In 1978, highly successful con artist Irving Rosenfeld (Bale) and his mistress, the equally intelligent Sydney Prosser (Adams), are at the top of their game, making oodles of money off the desperate, and, in Rosenfeld’s words, doing whatever it takes to survive. Unfortunately for them, they are caught in the act by ambitious FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Cooper).  Richie takes a liking to Sydney (Or rather, Sydney’s English alter-ego, “Edith Greensley”) and recruits Irving and “Edith” to help him fight white-collar crime, specifically, by helping him arrest four people.

I only had two problems with the plot. My first problem is with the ending (Which I’ll discuss at the end of this “Plot” section, in order to avoid spoiling it for people). My second problem was how muddled the plot was at the beginning. The dialogue was  being presented so quickly that I didn’t catch everything that was being said, and was pretty much just watching it for the performances. However, I did catch on eventually, and it really is quite an engrossing plot.

*SPOILER BEGINS HERE*

Now, while most of this movie was damn near perfect, there was one thing that didn’t sit well with me for one little bit. That would be the ending. I didn’t like how mayor Polito being incarcerated, the Mob being let off scot-free and Richie having his career ruined were presented alongside an (Admittedly, quite funny) scene between Irving, Sydney and Richie’s wife, Rosalyn as part of a “happy ending”.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I realize that the movie made it pretty clear that not everybody was getting out with their lives intact. But this “unhappy ending” seemed all out of whack. I felt kind of unsure what to feel when the movie cut from Richie sobbing in despair when he realizes he’s been conned, to mayor Polito being led away from his family by the police and then, suddenly, to everybody laughing about Jennifer Lawrence being in a neck brace. In my opinion (And remember, I wouldn’t know how to execute this, I’m just an armchair critic at this point), they should have had a much more melancholic ending scene with Irving, Sydney and Rosalyn. You don’t ruin the lives of two sympathetic characters, and then pretend that it’s the end of a buddy comedy.

*SPOILER ENDS HERE*

Acting: The acting in this movie is downright incredible. I’ll get into it a little more later, but these actors were PERFECTLY cast for their roles. Christian Bale is excellent, as are Cooper and Jeremy Renner (As the idealistic, yet somewhat naive, mayor of Camden, New Jersey). I wasn’t a fan of Amy Adams in Man of Steelbut she is fantastic and damn sexy in this film. Even the smaller parts in this movie (Louis C.K., Robert De Niro, etc.) are played exceptionally well.

However, the best performance, in my humble opinion, comes from the lovely Jennifer Lawrence, who plays Bale’s highly intelligent, yet mentally unstable wife. She strikes the perfect balance between being clearly not O.K., but also hilarious, and even sympathetic. J-Law has displayed, once again, why she is my favourite actress.

What Oscar nominations does it deserve?: 

  • Best Film Editing: Sure, I guess. The movie flowed very well from one scene to the other, though, as I mentioned before, it seemed kind of muddled at the beginning.
  • Best Costume Design: Yeah, for sure. The costumes had me reminiscing about the seventies right away… which is an impressive feat, considering I was born in ’96. Also, cleavage.
  • Best Production design: See “Best Costume Design”.
  • Best Writing-Original Screenplay: Absolutely. This screenplay was both intelligent and hilarious.
  • Best Supporting Actress (Jennifer Lawrence): YES.
  • Best Supporting Actor (Bradley Cooper): Cooper did a fine job as Richie DiMaso, but honestly, I think I preferred Jeremy Renner as mayor Polito.
  • Best Actress (Amy Adams): Absolutely.
  • Best Actor (Christian Bale): Yeah, sure. This is is the first Christian Bale movie in a long time in which I hadn’t been imagining him in a Batman costume and a fucked-up voice box.
  • Best Director (David O. Russell): He may be a bit of a douche, but yes, Russell deserves the nomination.
  • Best Picture: I highly doubt that it will (Or should) win the award, but it deserves every bit of that nomination.

Overall Rating: 8.5/10

Ben Affleck is Batman… And I’m (Somewhat) Okay With That!

I was gonna do a quick bit on why I’m an awful, awful person (Maybe some other time), but something much more important caught my attention.

Specifically: Who the hell cast Ben Affleck as Batman?

Does… not… compute…

So, unfortunately for my dead in the water burgeoning writing career, I will be wrestling with this for an indeterminate amount of time. For now, having seen Daredevilbut having also seen Argo and Good Will HuntingI am choosing to reserve judgement and urge everybody to please remain calm. Remember how everybody was pissed when Heath Ledger was cast as the Joker? Well, that turned out okay, right?

Previous career-defining role: A gay cowboy.

Of course, Brokeback Mountain was actually a good movie, while Gigli was not… But then again, Gigli was released ten whole years ago. I, personally, choose to judge Affleck by his most recent work. Unfortunately, even the great movie that was Argo is lost on the idiot who still calls him “Ben Asslick” ten years after that was relevant in any way.

Am I saying that I would have cast Benny as the Bat? No. I probably would have gone with a relative unknown, or a TV actor like, I dunno, Jon Hamm? Would Jon Hamm have been good as Batman?

Okay, yeah, they should have cast Jon Hamm.

I choose to remain “optimistically cynical” (Shit, does that make sense?) about our new Batman, but come on Internet. Calm the hell down. Give the poor man (Or filthy rich man. Whatever) the benefit of the doubt. And for chrissakes, can we stop using Gigli as the be-all and end-all when talking about Ben Affleck? In fact, you’re on the internet right now, so go watch Argo and then come back and tell me he sucked in it. Go on, I’ll wait!

So how was that? That’s right asshole, you LIKED Ben Affleck in that movie! Now shut the fuck up about Jennifer Lopez already!

Or so help him, Ben Affleck will shove his Oscar so far up your ass, you’ll think you’re watching Pearl Harbor again.

(They probably should have cast Jon Hamm.)

(Or Karl Urban…FUCK! It should have been Karl Urban!)

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Battle of the Superhero Film Franchises!!! (Part 1-Meet the Franchises!)

Well, I’d say that it’s a pretty great time to be a superhero fan.

During the gathering of nerds and cosplayers known as Comic-Con (A world I desperately want to be a part of) several superhero movies were presented to the ever-voracious nerd public. The films include the second Thor movie (Loved the first one), The Wolverine (Fuck the first one), Captain America: Winter Soldier, the second Amazing Spider-Man movie (Damn, another one?) , X-Men: Days of Future Past, Avengers: Age of Ultron (Oh God, yes!!!), the Superman/Batman movie (Nerdgasm achieved), and Guardians of the Galaxy, which I don’t know shit about except for the fact that there’s a talking raccoon involved. 

SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY!!!

That said, I got to wondering  about which superhero film franchises have been the most successful, both critically and commercially. So, I decided to rank thirteen franchises from worst to best in FOUR different categories, which are A) critical reception on Rotten Tomatoes, b) audience reception on Rotten Tomatoes, c) my opinion and d) the average commercial success per film of the series.

I define a franchise as being at least two confirmed films (For example, Kick-Ass would be considered a franchise because it has a released film and a confirmed film that has yet to be released. On the other hand, The Incredibles is not a franchise because at this point, any news of a sequel is just idle speculation. )

Well, fuck, I HOPE this is just speculation…

Anyways, let’s meet the franchises!

THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN

Superhero: Spider-Man/Peter Parker

Films: The Amazing Spider-Man (2012), The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014 ), The Amazing Spider-Man 3 (2016), The Amazing Spider-Man 4 (2018) Fuck, talk about getting ahead of yourself.

Directed By: Marc Webb

Stars: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Martin Sheen, Sally Field, Rhys Ifans , Jamie Foxx , Dane DeHaan , Paul Giamatti , Denis Leary, Chris Zylka

Suggested Tagline: “Anybody want another Spider-Man series humping the still-warm corpse of the Sam Raimi series? No? Well fuck you, here it is anyways.”

BATMAN (BURTON/SCHUMACHER) 

Superhero: Batman/Bruce Wayne

Films: Batman (1989), Batman Returns (1992), Batman Forever (1995), Batman & Robin (1997)

Directed By: Tim Burton , Joel Schumacher

Stars: Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, George Clooney, Jack Nicholson, Danny Devito, Michelle Pfeiffer, Christopher Walken, Tommy Lee Jones, Jim Carrey, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Uma Thurman, Chris O’Donnell, Michael Gough, Kim Basinger,  Nicole Kidman, Alicia Silverstone

Suggested Tagline: “Before there was Christian Bale… There were Bat-Nipples.”

“BAT-NIPPLES!?!?!”

BLADE

Blade movie.jpg

Superhero: Blade/Eric Brooks

Films: Blade (1998), Blade 2 (2002), Blade: Trinity (2004)

Directed By: Stephen Norrington, Guillermo del Toro, David S. Goyer

Stars: Wesley Snipes, Kris Kristofferson,  Stephen Dorff , Donal Logue , Ron Perlman, Leonor Varela, Thomas Kreschmann, Luke Goss, Dominic Purcell, Parker Posey, N’Bushe Wright, Jessica Biel, Ryan Reynolds

Suggested Tagline: I’ve actually never seen any of the Blade movies.

Ow! Stoppit! Are those rocks?! You’re hurting me!


THE DARK KNIGHT
 

Superhero: Batman/Bruce Wayne

Films: Batman Begins (2005), The Dark Knight (2008), The Dark Knight Rises (2012) 

Directed By: Christopher Nolan

Stars: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, Liam Neeson, Cillian Murphy, Tom Wilkinson, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy, Marion Cotillard, Katie Holmes, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Suggested Tagline: “I’m the goddamn BATMAN, motherfucker!”

“You tell ’em, unhinged sadistic psychopath Batman!”

FANTASTIC FOUR 

Oh boy, here we go…

Superheroes: Mr. Fantastic/Reed Richards, Invisible Woman/Susan Storm, The Thing/Ben Grimm, Human Torch/Johnny Storm

Films: Fantastic Four (2005), Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer  (2007)

Director: Tim Story

Stars: Ioan Gruffudd,  Jessica Alba, Chris Evans, Michael Chiklis, Julian McMahon, Doug Jones, Laurence Fishburne (Voice Only), Kerry Washington

Suggested Tagline: “Fine, YOU try designing the Thing realistically, assholes!”

GHOST RIDER 

One would think you couldn’t possibly fuck this movie up, but one would be wrong.

Superhero: Ghost Rider/Johnny Blaze

Films: Ghost Rider (2007), Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2012)

Director: Mark Steven Johnson, Neveldine/Taylor

Stars: Nicolas Cage, Peter Fonda, Wes Bentley, Johnny Whitworth, Ciaran Hinds, Eva Mendes, Violante Placido, Sam Elliott , Idris Elba

Suggested Tagline: “Yes, The Wicker Man did teach us nothing. So what?”

“Hell yes, this is the guy we want playing evil’s bane.”

HELLBOY

Superhero: Hellboy

Films: Hellboy (2004), Hellboy 2: The Golden Army (2008)

Director: Guillermo del Toro

Stars: Ron Perlman, Selma Blair, Doug Jones, John Hurt, Karel Roden, Jeffrey Tambor, Seth MacFarlane (Voice), Luke Goss, Anna Walton

Suggested Tagline: “What do you mean “Is Dark Horse still around?”‘

KICK-ASS 

Superheroes: Kick-Ass/Dave Lizewski, Hit Girl/Mindy MacReady, Big Daddy/Damon MacReady, Colonel Stars and Stripes

Films: Kick-Ass (2008), Kick-Ass 2 (2013)

Director: Matthew Vaughn, Jeff Wadlow

Stars: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Chloe Grace Moretz, Nicolas Cage, Mark Strong, Jim Carrey

Suggested Tagline: “Ten year olds committing mass murder? Bring that shit on.”

Roman Polanski is shitting himself in fear right about now.

MAN OF STEEL

Superheroes: Superman/Clark Kent, Batman/Bruce Wayne

Films: Man of Steel (2013), Batman Vs. Superman (2015)

Director: Zack Snyder

Stars: Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Diane Lane, Kevin Costner, Laurence Fishburne, Antje Traue, Ayelet Zurer, Christopher Meloni, Russell Crowe

Suggested Tagline: “Fine, we’ll add Batman. You fuckers interested yet?”

MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE 

Superheroes: Iron Man/Tony Stark, Hulk/Bruce Banner, Thor, Captain America/Steve Rogers, War Machine/James Rhodes, Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff, Hawkeye/Clint Barton, Ant-Man/Hank Pym, Nick Fury

Films: Iron Man (2008), The Incredible Hulk (2008), Iron Man 2 (2010), Thor (2011), Captain America: The First Avenger (2011), The Avengers (2012), Iron Man 3 (2013), Thor: The Dark World (2013), Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014), Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), The Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), Ant-Man (2015)

Directors: Jon Favreau, Louis Leterrier, Kenneth Branagh, Joe Johnston, Joss Whedon, Shane Black, Alan Taylor, Joe and Anthony Russo, James Gunn, Edgar Wright

Stars: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Edward Norton, Mark Ruffalo, Samuel L. Jackson, Terrence Howard, Don Cheadle, Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Lee Pace, Djimon Hounsou, Tom Hiddleston, Jeff Bridges, Tim Roth, William Hurt, Mickey Rourke, Sam Rockwell, Hugo Weaving, Ben Kingsley, Guy Pierce, Rebecca Hall, Stephanie Szostak, James Bridge Dale, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Frank Grillo, Georges St.Pierre, Benicio del Toro, Clark Gregg, Jon Favreau, Ty Burrell, Tim Blake Nelson, Anthony Hopkins, Stellan Skarsgard, Idris Elba, Ray Stevenson, Tadanobu Asano, Joshua Dallas, Jamie Alexander, Sebastian Stan, Tommy Lee Jones, Dominic Cooper, Neal McDonough, Stanley Tucci, Cobie Smulders, Zachary Levi, Rene Russo, Emily VanCamp, Anthony Mackie, John C. Reily, Robert Redford, Glenn Close, Gwyneth Paltrow, Liv Tyler, Natalie Portman, Hayley Atwell,

Suggested Tagline: “We just really, really hate people who work at movie theaters.”

“Fuck you and fuck your post-credits scenes! Some of us need to clean this shithole of a theater!”

SPIDER-MAN 

Superhero: Spider-Man/Peter Parker

Films: Spider-Man (2002), Spider-Man 2 (2004), Spider-Man 3 (2007)

Directed by: Sam Raimi

Stars: Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, Rosemary Harris, Willem Dafoe, Alfred Molina, Thomas Haden Church, Topher Grace, Rosemary Harris, Cliff Robertson, J.K. Simmons, Bryce Dallas Howard

Suggested Tagline: “Fuck it, let’s throw ALL the villains into one movie. What could possibly go wrong?”

SUPERMAN

Films: Superman (1978), Superman 2 (1980), Superman 3 (1983), Superman 4: The Quest for Peace (1987), Superman Returns (2006)

Directed By: Richard Donner, Richard Lester, Sidney J. Furie

Stars: Christopher Reeve, Brandon Routh, Gene Hackman, Kevin Spacey, Margot Kidder, Terence Stamp, Marlon Brando

Suggested Tagline: “Just try not to stare too much at the codpiece while the theme music is playing.”

X-MEN

Superheroes: No way I’m listing all of these guys. After the MCU? No way.

Films: X-Men (2000), X2 (2003), X-Men: The Last Stand (2006), X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009), X-Men: First Class (2011), The Wolverine (2013), X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)

Directed by: Bryan Singer, Brett Ratner (Booo!!!), Gavin Hood, Matthew Vaughn, James Mangold

Stars: Oh, fuck you.

Tune in soon for my rankings. Or to mock me for not being at Comic-Con. Either one.