American Hustle  =  9 ½

     This is a movie for actors in training.

      Acting 101. Young actors who aspires to stardom in movies should study this film over and over. It is amazing to watch the epitome of Hollywood actors today together into one film. Any and all of these stars could, and should, be nominated for Academy Awards.

     The movie is dated in the late 1970’s, where New Jersey casinos were just getting off the ground.  It’s loosely based on the infamous ABSCAM scandal of that era.   

     Christian Bale gained 40 pounds to play the lead role as Irving Rosenfeld, a scamming New Jersey hustler in over his head with politicians and mobsters, married to one woman (Jennifer Lawrence) while madly in love with voluptuous con woman (Amy Adams). Bale will absolutely be nominated, and a will be in a close tie with Tom Hanks (Captain Phillips) for winning the Oscar.

     Amy Adams, so versatile in so many past roles, is at her best, playing one man against the other to achieve her objectives, forever donned in open-front dresses baring everything but nipples. But that’s not why she will win the Oscar, it’s the passion, the looks in her eyes, the impeccable delivery of dialogue. She is absolutely one of the best actresses in Hollywood today.

     Not far behind, 23-year old Jennifer Lawrence, who has already won one supporting actress Oscar for Silver Linings Playbook, has rightfully established herself at the same level as the greats of today, including Meryl Streep. She plays the lonely and jealous wife of the elusive Christian Bale, but manages to insert her will into the story as a spoiler, endangering the life of her husband.

     Bradley Cooper deftly portrays hair-permed FBI agent Richie Dimaso, who wavers between delicate lines of honesty and corruption, while smitten with Bale’s girl friend, Amy Adams.

     The plot spins in many directions, but the audience should never lose sight that Bales’ character is a hard-core con artist in business to swindle people for big bucks, yet a sensitive man aglow with love and divided between loyalties to family and to the woman of his dreams.

     Add the cast, Jeremy Renner who plays Camden Mayor, Carmine Polito, striving to portray the most honest of political images. And, as a bonus, none other than Robert DeNiro appears near the end of the picture in a cameo role, playing – what else – a  high level Mafia mobster.

     This is a fine picture deserving a score of 9 ½ . It will definitely be nominated for several Oscars, including best picture and best director, David O. Russell.

     ***  As an aside:  Filming of this movie was delayed after the terrorist bombing of the Boston Marathon. Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Renner,Christian Bale and Amy Adams went to hospitals in the greater Boston area to visit with victims of the attack    

     Click here: American Hustle (2013) – IMDb