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