Inside the Best Picture nominees: A deep dive into 'American Hustle'

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Image Credit: Francois Duhamel

Name: American Hustle

Release date: Dec. 13, 2013 (limited), Dec. 20 (wide)

DVD release date: Unknown

Run time: 138 minutes

Box office: Opening weekend: $740,455 (USA); Domestic: $144.13 million; International: $72.28 million (as of Monday, Feb. 24)

Rotten Tomatoes score: 93 percent

American Hustle movie math: (Silver Linings Playbook x The Fighter) + Goodfellas

Tweetable description: A con artist and his mistress play in the big leagues when they must help an FBI agent take down a senator. Jennifer Lawrence adds extra charm, per usual.

What Owen said:American Hustle, [David O.] Russell’s brilliant, swirling amphetamine high of a movie about deep-dish chicanery in the late 1970s, makes good on Silver Linings‘ promise. It’s a film of jaw-dropping virtuosity and pleasure, one that leaves you revved, enthralled, tickled, moved, and amazed. It’s as if the Scorsese of Goodfellas had been revived, full-throttle, only with a new subject: the hucksterism hiding in the shadows of middle-class America. A

Number of Oscar nods: 10 — along with Best Picture, the movie’s nominations include Best Actor for Christian Bale, Best Actress for Amy Adams, Best Supporting Actor for Bradley Cooper, and Best Supporting Actress for Jennifer Lawrence. It also snagged a Best Director nod for David O. Russell, as well as  Costume Design (Michael Wilkinson), Film Editing (Jay Cassidy, Crispin Struthers, and Alan Baumgarten), Production Design (Judy Becker and Heather Loeffler), and Writing — Original Screenplay (Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell).

Oscar history: All of the acting nominees have been at the Oscars before — including all for their previous David O. Russell films. Russell was also previously nominated for directing both The Fighter and Silver Linings Playbook.

What it has won thus far: American Hustle won three Golden Globe Awards (Best Actress — Musical or Comedy, Best Supporting Actress — Musical or Comedy, and Best Film — Musical or Comedy). It also took home the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture, and three BAFTA Awards (Best Supporting Actress, Original Screenplay, and Make up and Hair), among other achievements.

Why it should win: The performances were a treat to behold, and the film was an enjoyable romp that let fantastic actors have fun and show off for two-plus hours. Comedies are often overlooked by the Oscars, so it might be nice to see a lighthearted picture take the top prize. In addition to that, the 10 nominations show that the Academy feels the talent runs deep in this picture — perhaps they should reward that with the ultimate prize?

Why it shouldn’t win: In a year that boasted the technical achievements of Gravity as well as the powerful emotion of 12 Years a Slave, a win for American Hustle might feel like a miss. While its original critical response was rapturous, there’s been a substantial backlash in recent weeks that seemed to suggest that many feel the movie, while fun, shouldn’t be mentioned in the same category as many of the other Best Picture nominees, and that the individual performances were better than the combined material. But in a tight race, it’s possible that come the end of Oscars night, the ’70s will show that they’ve got some life left in them yet, much like Bradley Cooper and Christian Bale’s hair.

Vegas Odds: 15-1

Best line: “That’s why I sent them [Mafia henchmen] over there, because I know they were gonna knock some sense into you, and you were going to come up with a plan to get us out of all this. … So thank God for me.” — Rosalyn Rosenfeld (Lawrence)

Worst line: “Maybe we’re both gross inside, and that’s what Irving loves about us. At least he’s consistent. You know, sometimes in life, all you have are f—ed up, poisonous choices.” — Rosalyn …and then Lawrence and Adams kiss.


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