The Oscar race gun has sounded, and I’ve started my sprint towards seeing all 9 Best Picture nominees. Technically, ever since the Academy has started the business of nominating 10 films instead of the usual 5, they’ve only nominated 9. Why they’ve never gone for the full 10 is beyond me, but I will see all of them nonetheless!
I started the 2014 season off with American Hustle, starring my favorite actress, Jennifer Lawrence! (I could write dozens of posts where I proclaim my love for the woman who plays the Girl on Fire, but I’ll spare you. For now.)
Since American Hustle is my first film of the 2014 Oscar season, I can’t set the bar too high. For example, Silver Linings Playbook completely sucked me in and I was ready to throw it a perfect 11, putting it as my favorite of the 2013 season.
But then I saw Argo, and my jaw dropped. I just watched it again for the first time since I saw Argo in the theater last year, and it’s still heart-poundingly fantastic. Going into the movie theater, I knew how it was going to end. I knew all the Americans would make it through the Iranian airport and back onto American soil. (Along with being a huge movie nerd, I’m also into historical conflicts.) Ben Affleck’s directing choices to replicate the film with such historical accuracy (compared to actual photographs of the event) sold me. Throw in the I’m-yelling-at-the-big-movie-screen-to-go-faster suspense, and it quickly became my golden choice for the 2013 statuette. I couldn’t have been more excited when shaggy-haired Ben Affleck accepted the Oscar for the 2013 Best Picture.
With that said, American Hustle is my first Best Picture film of 2014, so I can’t set my Favorite Film Bar too high. Yet.
Overall, the film was a smashing good time. In fact, it conned me into loving it entirely (except for maybe 10 minutes before the big climatic scene of all the action). I already love J-Law, Christian Bale, and Jeremy Renner. Bradley Cooper is so-so with me (only because of Silver Linings Playbook), and Amy Adams has a tendency to annoy me with her perfectly pointy nose. I adored her in Enchanted, but wanted to slap her off the screen in The Fighter. I didn’t despise her, but did she deserve the Golden Globe for Best Actress? I’d have to see the other Golden Globe nominees to be sure. Now J-Law? I admit I may be biased, but I honestly couldn’t wait for her next appearance on the movie screen each time. Same with Christian Bale.
The pace of the film was great, the background soundtrack was the epitome of the 1970s, and the costumes were FAB-ulous, although I did NOT enjoy seeing every possible angle of Amy Adams’ boobs.
But what I really want to share with you are my Top 10 favorite parts of American Hustle (WARNING! A few minor spoilers do lie ahead.):
1.) Jennifer Lawrence’s dress for her evening at The Plaza Hotel
2.) Christian Bale’s toupee (and the elaborate way he combs it up and over)
3.) The continued dedication Christian Bale uses in approaching characters (aka his robust, round tummy sticking out over the top of his swim trunks)
4.) Amy Adams’ English accent (I’m a sucker for English accents)
5.) Bradley Cooper’s reactionary line of “You’re freaking me out” to Edith after revealing she’s not actually Edith
6.) Jennifer Lawrence’s hair-tossing house cleaning dance to “Live and Let Die”
7.) The grand set choice of Manhattan’s Plaza Hotel for a pivotal meeting for American Hustle’s entire plot
8.) A thick bouffant comb-over atop Jeremy Renner’s head (plus that New Jersey dialect…..mmmmHMMMM!)
9.) Romance circling one Amy Adams and one Christian Bale among the plastic-covered dry-cleaned clothes
10.) The entire microwave sequence involving my beloved J-Law and Mr. Bale. The exchange of words, her sassiness, a small explosion…perfection.
I wasn’t expecting to like this film as much as I did, but Best Picture nominees get nominated for a reason. American Hustle is a con artist of a film. You’re not quite sure what you’re getting into when you sit down and watch Christian Bale coif his hair into the perfect comb-over to hide his shiny bald head. But once the plan starts to unfold, you can’t help but hold on for the entire ride, hoping the entire time you don’t get burned. (SPOILER: You won’t.)
But American Hustle itself says it best: “It doesn’t care what anybody thinks. It is what it is.”