10 Days of Oscars: American Hustle



After the success of “Silver Linings Playbook” last year, director David O. Russell left viewers wanting more, and more is just what they got with “American Hustle.”

Unlike most political films, “American Hustle” takes a comedic approach with its plot.

Though fictional, this film is based on the FBI ABSCAM Operation of the late 70s and early 80s.  Con artist Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) meets Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams) and quickly falls for her, but is reluctant to leave his wife Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence) because of his love for his adopted son Danny.

After discovering the reality of Irving’s career as con man, Sydney joins him in his fraudulent ventures and takes on the fake identity of a British aristocrat. However, FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper) and his team catch them in the act and arrest them.

Hope is not lost for the duo, as Richie gives them an ultimatum: they could both go to jail or help the FBI arrest four more people—particularly in the high political ranks. Nonetheless, Rosalyn may end up ruining his whole scheme.

This film’s outstanding ensemble gives the script justice. Every word of Eric Warren Singer and Russell’s screenplay is critical to understanding all the twists and turns of the plot, keeping the viewer intrigued through its humor and cleverness. Of course, the surprise cameos of fellow “Silver Linings Playbook” stars Robert De Niro (uncredited) and Paul Herman, did not hurt.

Bale really shines in this film, and it’s not because of his ridiculous comb over and beer belly. He brings the doubts, emotion and epiphanies that any person, regardless of his or her crimes, would experience.  He makes his character real, and showcases his vulnerabilities to love in a way that makes you root for him.

The performances of Adams, Cooper, Lawrence and Jeremy Renner (who played Mayor Carmine Polito, one of Richie’s targets) really pull this film together. Adams stepped up as a leading lady and does not disappoint, while Lawrence’s dominant and hilariously sassy presence in her supporting role reeled in accolades.

Cooper took a chance on a role that was really different from what he’s done and portrayed Richie’s ambition perfectly, proving, yet again, that he is up for any challenge. Renner also left behind his typical action-packed roles for a softer one, giving Carmine a sense of likeability and loyalty that many politicians lack.

I can rant on and on about the cast, but other crucial elements were critical to its success. The costumes, hair and makeup, music and cinematography all worked together to capture the spirit of the film’s era and tone.

There’s a reason why “American Hustle” has been picking up awards left and right. With 10 nominations at the Academy Awards, it’s clear that the poise of this film has been recognized and it is really hard to predict whether or not it will nab the Oscar for Best Picture, disappointing “12 Years a Slave” fans.