ACADEMY AWARD NOMINATIONS
- Best Picture (Charles Roven, Richard Suckle, Megan Ellison, and Jonathan Gordon – Producers)
- Best Actor in a Leading Role (Christian Bale)
- Best Actress in a Leading Role (Amy Adams)
- Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Bradley Cooper)
- Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Jennifer Lawrence)
- Best Film Editing (Jay Cassidy, Crispin Struthers, and Alan Baumgarten)
- Best Costume Design (Michael Wilkinson)
- Best Production Design (Judy Becker – Production Design; Heather Loeffler – Set Decoration)
- Best Director (David O. Russell)
- Best Original Screenplay (Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell)
The best parts of this film are Christian Bale and Jennifer Lawrence. I kind of wish it was just about them because I didn’t find this story to be particularly compelling. This is the kind of movie where there is a kind of reveal at the end but I’m not sure if it’s really a surprise because you see it coming from the very beginning. I thought this movie started off stronger than it ended. I’m really not a David O. Russell fan in the first place and I really wanted to like this but I just find everything he does to be so boring. I can barely sit through anything he does and it’s not really because I’m completely uninterested in the subject, I just think he’s a poor director.
I did like this better than Silver Linings Playbook though, but I wouldn’t watch it again.
The fact that America’s “A Horse With No Name” played in probably the first 15 minutes of American Hustle really should have told me everything I needed to know about how I would feel about the movie. Because, you might not know this about me, but I happen to think that song is maybe the worst song ever created by man.
So, while American Hustle was substantially better than the train wreck that was Silver Linings Playbook, I still just didn’t really like it. And despite SLP, I wanted to like American Hustle. I love Christian Bale, Jennifer Lawrence, and Jeremy Renner. And they were all great in it. But to me, their performances really weren’t enough to make the movie completely worthwhile.
I’m going to take a controversial stance and say what I’ve thought for a long time: that Amy Adams is actually not that great of an actress. I’m not saying she’s bad. I thought she was very good in The Master. But I think that’s mostly because her character in that is supposed to be pretty stiff and calculating, and I think that’s how she comes off in every movie. All during American Hustle I just kept thinking that she was acting, which isn’t really a great characteristic. Also, I just don’t think she’s sexy. Which I never cared about or thought twice about until this movie, when she’s supposed to be ultra sexy. Amy Adams is gorgeous and can be very cute, but sexy? Especially not compared to Jennifer Lawrence.
So I guess the biggest problem I had with American Hustle is I didn’t really understand the point of anything anyone did. Irving (Christian Bale) and his girlfriend Sydney (Amy Adams) are con artists that promise loans to people, but take their money instead. They end up getting caught in the act by Richie (Bradley Cooper), an FBI agent. In exchange for their immunity, Richie has Irving and Sydney teach him about cons so that the FBI will be better able to catch con artists. Aaaaand this is where the movie lost me. They end up targeting Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner), a New Jersey mayor that is genuine and beloved by everyone. They basically entrap him, as far as I could gather. I couldn’t understand why they went after Polito in the first place. Why go after a good politician, rather than criminals or at least corrupt politicians? They do end up nabbing corrupt politicians, but at the expense of Polito. There’s also messiness with Richie and Sydney, as Sydney has somehow hidden her real identity from the FBI and is pretending to be British. WHY? I just didn’t get the point.
The best parts of American Hustle were, by far, Christian Bale and Jennifer Lawrence. Christian Bale was not the Christian Bale that I swooned over as a kid here: he was fat, hairy, and had a bad comb-over. But he was so great. Irving goes through most of the movie annoyed at everyone else not listening to him, even though he’s basically the only one who really knows what he’s doing. I loved seeing him get pissed off at Richie, who was basically insane. Even though I don’t really like Bradley Cooper, I did like his character because it felt like he was playing a similar character to the one in SLP, except this time it’s not just Chris and me who think he’s a total joke, it’s all the characters in the movie, too! And man, Jennifer Lawrence was great. I’m not sure it was exactly an Oscar-worthy performance, especially compared to someone like June Squibb, but she was great as Rosalyn, Irving’s possible insane wife. I really just enjoyed how genuine Irving was, which is weird to say about a character who’s a con artist. But he obviously truly loved Sydney, and truly cared about Rosalyn and her son, whom he adopted. He was sensitive and funny, which was nice to see in a movie like this.
I don’t want to say don’t see American Hustle because I feel like I’m in the minority of not really liking it. And it’s always worth seeing Christian Bale and Jennifer Lawrence in pretty much anything. Buuuuut . . . there’s better stuff out there.