February 27, 2014

American Hustle (2013)

Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence

Since American Hustle is apparently considered to be the second coming of Titanic with its ten Oscar nominations, I figured I would address each of our leading stars individually, starting with Batman himself.

Christian Bale is great, naturally. We've come to expect it from him now that it's almost routine. Of course, it's still unsettling to me to see my dearly beloved Teddy from Little Women as such a smarmy con man with the most epic combover in movie history, but then you remember he's so bloody brilliant as an actor you can forgive him for just about anything (including that creepy rapist voice he uses as Batman). That being said, I don't think this was his best performance. He's great, but after The Fighter, everything he does will always seem a little disappointing. And that's the problem with being a great actor - you can't always measure up to yourself.

In comparison, Bradley Cooper looked more like the guy who starred in All About Steve than the guy who got an Oscar nomination for Silver Linings Playbook. Not really, of course, but more to the fact that I'm completely baffled as to why he got an Oscar nomination for this role. He's perfectly fine, but I have a hard time imagining the Academy couldn't come up with a single actor who was more deserving of that nomination. Maybe they just really wanted this movie to get its tenth nomination? Oh, and thank god Amy Adams makes a joke about Bradley Cooper's hair in this movie because it's embarrassingly awful. I mean, I know the movie is set in the 70's, so bad hair is everywhere, but I can never un-see Bradley Cooper in mini curlers.

Back to the good: Amy Adams. Despite my absolute and unbridled love for her, I was starting to question her judgement in movie choices after watching lame, predictable, and even pretentious and empty films. I mean, I still like Kate Hudson and I'll watch her movies, but it doesn't mean I have to respect her as an actress. So this role came just in time to remind me why I fell in love with Amy Adams in the first place. For one thing, she can transition between an American accent and an English accent so seamlessly you forget how weird it is that her character is even using two accents simultaneously in the first place. For another, I find her to be as much a chameleon as Christian Bale that she is equally believable as both a stripper and as a high class con woman (though some might argue there's not much difference between the two). Either way, there's a reason she's been on absolute fire with the Oscar nominations in recent years.

And then we have Jennifer Lawrence (who, by the way, should not be called JLaw. It's a terrible nickname and it's very confusing because the first time I heard it I thought someone was talking about Jude Law). I like her - I really do. I feel the need to clarify that because everything I'm about to say might seem contrary to that. First of all, I don't think she should have been last year's Oscar winner. Yes, I loved Silver Linings Playbook, but I don't think she was the best actress of the year. Not by a long shot. And Oscar wins are some sort of future-fulfilling prophecy - once you win one, people just believe you are a legitimate force that should be nominated again and again (someone should really go tell Cuba Gooding Jr.). Anyway, before even seeing this movie, the one thing I kept hearing about was Jennifer Lawrence's performance, which is weird because she's in the movie for a total of about ten minutes. I'm not saying you couldn't be a scene stealer in ten minutes, but I'm not seeing how you can win an Oscar for 'supporting' a 2 hour, 18 minute movie in which you appear in less than 10% of it. I don't care how hot she looks in the movie, that's just bad math. I'm against it on principle.

The movie itself is entertaining enough, but largely propped up by its big name cast. It has a killer soundtrack and some great styling, but beyond the superficial stuff, it lacks the real grit and drama that would make it an enduring Best Picture in American cinema.

Final word: Rent the movie, buy the soundtrack.


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