Actor in a Leading Role - Christian Bale
Actor in a Supporting Role - Bradley Cooper
Actress in a Leading Role - Amy Adams
Actress in a Supporting Role - Jennifer Lawrence
Best Picture - Charles Roven, Richard Suckle, Megan Ellison, and Jonathan Gordon, Producers
Costume Design - Michael Wilkinson
Directing - David O. Russell
Film Editing - Jay Cassidy, Crispin Struthers, and Alan Baumgarten
Production Design (formerly known as Art Direction, but changed to reflect the collaboration between set decorator and art director) - Judy Becker (Production Design), Heather Loeffler (Set Decoration)
Writing (Original Screenplay) - Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell
American Hustle is another film in which we find ourselves rooting for the bad guys, a genre that tends to bug me in general because I can't help put myself into the shoes of the people who are being scammed. Yes, the people being scammed are looking to make a quick buck, or get access to something they shouldn't have access to, but for the most part, it's hard to face our own true human nature and remind ourselves that we all would like to do well, to trust people who seem trustworthy, and to make investments that are sound that will yield something good for ourselves and our families.
This is the story of a small time scammer (Christian Bale in a seriously awesome comb over) who meets up with a driven hustler (Amy Adams, who they have done their best to take from the most adorable little actress on earth to sexy mama - a transformation that I didn't really buy but my brother did, so what do I know!) who find themselves the victims of an FBI agent sting (Bradley Cooper) who himself is an ambitious professional. The FBI agent convinces them that in exchange for their freedom, they must participate in a major sting of politicians in New Jersey, including the ernest and well-meaning Mayor of Camden, New Jersey who wants to revitalize Atlantic City but who has been struggling to raise the money (Jeremy Renner). I felt truly sorry for Renner's character who genuinely seemed to want to do good, and was stuck in an ends justifies the means situation. He was not self-motivated, and even Bale's character realizes this somewhere along the line.
All of the actors are superb in the film, and I was particularly excited by Louis C.K. who plays Bradley Cooper's boss and somehow, even when he is attempting to impede his employee's actions is angry and funny at the same time. I'm a sucker for good cameos (think Jack Nicholson in Broadcast News) and Robert DeNiro is short on screen time and long on awesome as the mob boss. Jennifer Lawrence almost steals the whole film with her brand of spitfire crazy that makes you wish she had more scenes.
The film is basically a period piece and boy did the Costume Designers earn their nomination. I can't tell you how many times in the movie I said, "that dress is gorgeous," "that suit is ridiculous," and with the appearance of the wrap dress that Diane Von Furstenberg invented in 1974, you are immediately transported back in time. (And Amy Adams is PULLING. IT. OFF.) When you combine their work with the art of the production designers who manage to insert every 1970's gaudy lamp in history, you have a visual masterpiece.
Two of my favorite parts of the film are small, but worth noting. First, when Jeremy Renner's character makes a gift of a newly invented microwave to Christian Bale, Bale brings it home to his wife and explains it to her as an oven that uses science, a science oven. She then refers to it during it's short lived appearance in the film as the science oven, until she quickly learns that metal in the science oven is a big no no. Naturally, we have put a small label on our own microwave which reads "science oven," and that is how we refer to it now. Hilarious, plus, I loves me some Jennifer Lawrence in everything she does, and every line she speaks, in every movie she's made (ok, I hated Winter's Bone, but I still loved her.)
Second, there is no escaping how well Amy Adams portrays confident and vulnerable at the same time. Her best quote in the film is "You're nothing to me until you're everything." to Christan Bale, the boyfriend who won't leave his wife for her. I'd love to see single women across the globe take up this philosophy with their men who don't treat them well. It's solid gold genius.
Overall, I really enjoyed American Hustle. It was well done and well acted and well directed and well written. Do I think it deserves Best Picture? No, I do not. Do I think that any of American Hustle's nominees deserve the gold? Well, I am still seeing some of its competitors, but honestly, no, I don't. It was good and I highly recommend seeing it, but I don't believe it will be a standout in the end (for quality, if not popularity.) The film has so much buzz and so much press that it will likely take home at least one statue, but so far, I see other, more deserving nominees. We shall see!
Haven't seen the movie yet? Here's the trailer:
Watch the American Hustle movie trailer