Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Oscars: “American Hustle” Screens, and Some Awards Questions Are Answered


I’ve just gotten back from a long day of movie marathons concerning the Oscars. The biggest deal was the first screening of David O. Russell’s “American Hustle.” We’re not supposed to ‘review’ it until next week. But the voting for various awards, and drawing up of lists is upon us. So this isn’t a review. Just some observations.

Russell has taken his two best films, “The Fighter” and “Silver Linings Playbook,” mixed them in a Cuisinart and added a touch of Scorsese. There’s also a slight hint of “Argo.” But really, he’s made a great movie. All four of his principle actors are superb. But I dare say that Amy Adams is the consistent standout and a definite Best Actress nominee. She’s a knockout. So is Christian Bale, who joins a long list of potential Best Actor nominees.

The irony is that Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, leads from “Silver Linings” and Oscar nominees (she won) return here in supporting roles. They’re big supporting roles–almost leads. They each deserve their own nominations. I don’t get how Jennifer Lawrence is doing what she does. She’s what, 23? She ‘gets it.’ She ‘gets’ everything. She’s playing older here, from the 1970s, and still she nails it in the most disarming ways. Is she reincarnated? Is she channeling someone? Throw this in with “Catching Fire,” and you’ve really got a situation here. Imagine what she’ll be like at 30!

“American Hustle” is one of 17 (by my count) possible Best Picture nominees. There are only 10 slots. I’d have to think it goes in the top 10. You know it’s good from the get go because they use the Columbia Pictures logo from the ’70s right at the start. Plus, the music is phenomenal. It’s all ’70s hits. There’s one sequence with Lawrence involving “Live and Let Die” that’s just LOL brilliant.

“American Hustle” is a so called big film. I do think we’re in danger of losing the ‘little’ films from the top 10. We need a second Oscar night! All the ‘big’ films have to be nominated: 12 Years a Slave, Gravity, The Butler, August Osage County, American Hustle, Lone Survivor, Saving Mr Banks, Captain Phillips. Then maybe comes Nebraska. That’s 9. One more? “Wolf of Wall Street” remains a question mark.

By the way there are some game changer smaller roles in “American Hustle” for the performers. Alessandro Nivola in particular stands out as an ambitious prosecutor. Elisabeth Rohm, from “Law & Order,” is a revelation. More next week…

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

Read more

In Other News