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The State of the Race: American Hustle Takes the Lead to win Best Picture

american-hustle-in-a-restaurant

In all of the ways people think the Oscar race is predictable it always turns out to be surprising when the dust settles. There is no point in not saying what is the obvious writing on the wall — David O. Russell will finally collect the big Oscar for directing as American Hustle wins Best Picture.  That might mean Jennifer Lawrence wins her second Oscar back to back, or that Lupita Nyong’o and/or Chiwetel Ejiofor might win for 12 Years a Slave because it won’t be winning Best Picture.

That’s right, in this pivotal year when the industry — the Academy specifically – went out of their way to diversify their membership, in the second term of the country’s first African-American president, with three strong black filmmakers in the race, none of that is going to matter as voters pick what they like and the film everyone seems to be agreeing on right now is the one the New York Film critics chose as Best Picture and the one the National Society of Film Critics, which shut out 12 Years a Slave completely, had as their runner-up choice.

David O. Russell has come close to Oscar twice before with The Fighter, then with Silver Linings Playbook.  He has made a film that never takes itself seriously, is not really about anything particularly, but revels in what this director does best: great performances and a screwball non-plot.

Add to that, the early declaration by Kyle Buchanan that 12 Years a Slave would win put a big fat target on its back.  Then, it was Gravity’s to lose and now it seems like the consensus will settle on the movie that doesn’t really ask anything of you but seeks only to entertain.  No one is going to complain, least of all the critics. This is a movie that brings a big party with lots of big stars along with it, stars that are dressed up in disco attire, an era that many of the aging voters remember fondly.

American Hustle is going to be named Best Picture of 2013, that is the sentence I keep hearing in my mind.  There is nothing particularly offensive about this idea. It’s a really good movie in its own way.  Is it the best of the year? Well, that’s a matter of opinion and the opinion shared by many Academy members is likely going to be yes. It will likely win the Golden Globe, then probably the Producers Guild, then very likely the Directors Guild – and I bet it even wins the SAG ensemble.  These are the things you can just smell in the air.

The only way I see it turning around is if the film gains some backlash now that it’s out front (or once it becomes out front). But the season moves so fast there won’t be time.  12 Years a Slave was out front way too early — because it was out front so many people started complaining about it. The mantra I keep hearing is that it’s only about “slavery was bad.”  They prefer instead a film that doesn’t even pretend to be about anything. Or even if it’s “ABSCAM was bad” that doesn’t hurt it at all.  It’s a big party and the big stars show up at the party.  Moreover, it has everything the Oscar voters like — scantily clad women fighting over men who, in no way shape or form they would ever go for in real life.  Jennifer Lawrence and Amy Adams fighting over a bald paunchy sad-sack Christian Bale in that movie is something only Hollywood could dream up.

But for those who think 12 Years a Slave is just “slavery is bad” have not really spent much time using their brains. Yeah, you know that big fat organ that sits between your ears, took millions of years to evolve, helped mankind invent tools and technology? Yeah that. Give it a spin some time and see where it takes you.  What could it hurt? But most people go to the movies to be entertained not to problem solve, not to atone, and certainly not to think. If you want to win Best Picture give them something entertaining that doesn’t ask too much of them and sends them back out on the street with a grin. American Hustle — which is probably better than all of the Best Picture winners since The Hurt Locker — does just that.

I find it ironic that when the season first began many were predicting American Hustle to win sight unseen.  Jeff Wells, who is a big fan of David O. Russell beat the drum early for it to be Russell’s moment.  The Hollywood Reporter’s Scott Feinberg had it predicted to win very early, before anyone had seen it. But then a test screening happened and that test screening downplayed the movie significantly. Everyone shifted their position.   When I first saw it at a SAG screening, the audience’s response was tepid at best.  I walked out of that screening along with Steve Pond, Anne Thompson and Kris Tapley thinking it was good but “not an awards movie.” Anne Thompson even wrote about that very thing.  This all changed when the New York Film critics chose the film as its winner. Suddenly it had the sheen of success on it and from then, I would argue, it became unstoppable, as much as a LOATHE to give the NYFCC any credit at all.  This is why being first can sometimes make the difference.  Being first for the NYFCC meant they could pick a movie most people hadn’t seen and elevate it to supreme status.

If life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans, the Oscar race is about trying to make sure no one looks at your movie for Oscar until the time is exactly right.  Now American Hustle can look like the accidental winner, the one that captured the hearts of voters when they were supposed to be voting for more ambitious, more serious films.  But the truth is, American Hustle, like all of the other movies, absolutely had its eye on Oscar from beginning. These movies simply don’t get made otherwise.

Here are the films that have the best shot at winning and from the looks of it there are only three.

1. American Hustle – a film that is  a wacky screwball comedy about a man and a woman — Christian Bale and Amy Adams — pulling a scam. It opens with “some of this actually happened,” thus it never really has to tell the truth about anything and it can deceive you without having to adhere to history or common sense.  It is, I suppose, about fake masks, faux personas and desperation. It’s Dirty Rotten Scoundrels meets Goodfellas.  Amy Adams is in love with Christian Bale, then plays Bradley Cooper, then ends up back with Christian Bale. Jennifer Lawrence steals the show as Bale’s wife.  In between are a lot of funny, quirky plot deviations but the story always winds up back on Bale and Adams.  At the end of the day it is really just a screwball comedy not unlike something Frank Capra might have made.

People come out of American Hustle with a smile on their face, toe-tapping to the ’70s soundtrack, jazzed up on the hair and the dresses.  More people say “I loved American Hustle” than they do any other movie.  That, my friends, is how you find a consensus vote. It reminds me of Chicago or Argo — just a big, funny party where nothing is particularly at stake.  Plus, David O. Russell is kind of overdue when you think about it. He’s been at the game a long, long time and perhaps his ship has finally come in.

2. 12 Years a Slave — still the big challenger. This breathtaking, difficult, challenging film is the film about slavery Hollywood owes us and the movie America deserves. No giant consensus of white voters wants to be confronted with either our past or our present, let’s face it. No one wants to confront the idea that the only film to win Best Picture that remotely dealt with American slavery was 1939’s Gone with the Wind – “happy negroes” helping the white folk out of their predicaments.  Hattie McDaniel won the Oscar but was seated so far in the back it took her a very long time to make it to the stage.  In 2012, Quentin Tarantino made a “fun” slavery movie, Django Unchained. Hollywood rewarded it by giving Oscars to Tarantino and Christoph Waltz.  McQueen’s unflinching look at slavery is every bit about today as it is about those times.  It isn’t just “slavery was bad” but how could this man have been put into slavery so easily and for 12 years? How many of these stories exist today and are never told? We wait around for white people to tell those stories but here is one whose source material was written by a slave, whose screenwriter is an African American and was directed by a new voice in cinema, Steve McQueen.

It’s not a rolling party of hard nipples poking through polyester and it doesn’t have a glittering disco ball following it around nor funny teasy sexless sex scenes. It is so much more than that. Hard, yes, intense, absolutely.  Painful and somber? No doubt.  How do you get people to vote for something they can barely think about? No easy task.  When it comes to voting for movies people do what they want to do. They pick what they “like” not what they should.  And what a shame that is.  In the almost 15 years I’ve been Oscar watching I always wondered if there would come a time when a black director would have a shot. They would have to pass the gauntlet of film critics — mostly white, straight males who like films they can relate to. So when 12 Years came along it seemed, for a little while, like it could actually have a shot.  History might be made after all.  For the first time in 86 years a black director would take the stage to accept a gold statue for directing.  Turns out we would see a black president before we see a black director winning an Oscar.

It has stars – check. It has Brad Pitt producing. It has Fox Searchlight’s mighty Oscar campaigning behind it. It has history on its side.  It is one of the most memorable films of the year. And yet, here we are again.  Kitten in a teacup. LIKE.

3. Gravity — all of this might change when the Producers Guild announce their winner and it’s Gravity.  At that point heads will nod in agreement that, yes, Gravity is the one to beat.  Cuaron’s groundbreaking odyssey of a woman in space — who would have figured any director would have the balls in 2013 to make a movie about a woman?  A singular woman who must fight for survival.  For all of the humanity in Cuaron’s brilliant work, the dazzling special effects are part of what makes this film such a standout in 2013.  Gravity, to me, is as much a metaphor about endurance as J.C. Chandor’s All Is Lost but Cuaron somehow managed to make it be about women specifically.  Women who must juggle being mothers with working with aging with attractiveness with sexiness. And all the while gravity is pulling them down every day, aging them, making them saggy and wrinkly.  But you know, Sandra Bullock found the truth in who she was in those dark, silent moments in space.  That sense of identity and strength is what pulls her back down to earth, to a place where she very much appreciates every minute that gravity pins her to earth.

The truth is that we don’t know how the consensus will go when all is said and done. But my thinking is this. If the National Society of Film Critics, the highest and most elite group of critics in the country, can’t even reward 12 Years a Slave for Best Picture what hope does it have with the much bigger groups?  If there was going to be any group that rewarded a film of such beauty it should have been them.  They went for Inside Llewyn Davis but their runner-up was American Hustle.  And if American Hustle is good enough for New York and the National Society, it sure as shit will be good enough for the industry.

The question for me is whether I will officially change my prediction over at Movie City News and Gold Derby or not. I haven’t quite learned how to let it go.

Predictions

Best Picture

1. American Hustle
2. 12 Years a Slave
3. Gravity
4. Captain Phillips
5. Nebraska
6. Her
7. Dallas Buyers Club
8. Saving Mr. Banks
9. The Wolf of Wall Street
10. Inside Llewyn Davis

Best Actor
1. Bruce Dern, Nebraska
2. Chiwetel Ejiofor. 12 Years a Slave
3. Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club
4. Robert Redford, All is Lost
5. Tom Hanks, Captain Phillips

Best Actress
1. Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
2. Sandra Bullock, Gravity
3. Emma Thompson, Saving Mr. Banks
4. Meryl Streep, August: Osage County
5. Judi Dench, Philomena

Supporting Actor
Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club
Barkhad Abdi Captain Phillips
Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave
Daniel Bruhl, Rush
Alt. Bradley Cooper, American Hustle, James Gandolfini, Enough Said

Supporting Actress
Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave
Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle
Oprah Winfrey, The Butler
June Squibb, Nebraska
Julia Roberts, August: Osage County

Director
David O. Russell, American Hustle
Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity
Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave
Paul Greengrass, Captain Phillips
Martin Scorsese, The Wolf of Wall Street
Alt. Spike Jonze, Her, Alexander Payne, Nebraska, Joel and Ethan Coen, Inside Llewyn Davis, Jean-Marc Vallée, Dallas Buyers Club

Original Screenplay
Eric Singer, David O. Russell, American Hustle
Spike Jonze, Her
Joel and Ethan Coen, Inside Llewyn Davis
Bob Nelson, Nebraska
Woody Allen, Blue Jasmine
Alt. Craig Borten, Dallas Buyers Club

Adapted Screenplay
John Ridley, 12 Years a Slave
Tracy Letts, August: Osage County
Terrence Winter, Wolf of Wall Street
Steve Coogan, Philomena
Billy Ray, Captain Phillips
Alt. Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke, Richard Linklater, Before Midnight

 

179 Comments on this Post

  1. Zetto M.

    What, this is unprofessional to say that we already know what will absolutely win, because there just no way of knowing the final outcome. and also Gravity and 12 Years a Slave will be winning the Oscars for best picture and director before American Hustle does.
    Last year it was unclear whether Argo would win. 2011 it was between Hugo and The Artist no clear front runner. In 2010 it was between The Social Network and The King’s Speech and it was unclear that the latter would win for some time. And I hadn’t even known about Slumdog Millionaire until it won the Critics Choice Award back in 09′. So come on

  2. Nope, not feeling it. The resounding word I’m hearing is from people saying “Is that all there is?” I think the early buzz built things up for people to expect something much better than this slim, messy film actually is. For it to beat films as accomplished as 12 Years and Gravity would be akin to when Crash won best picture. And Sony has never won a best picture Oscar, even when they had great movies.

  3. Bryce Forestieri

    If Tracy Letts gets in instead of Delpy/Hawke/Linklater…um, never mind I have enough to worry about.

  4. Samantha

    ARGO was a safe choice, but a great movie. HUSTLE is too sloppy and there’s already a big backlash to how overrated it is. It’s the kind of movie people can support in acting and script categories, but for the main prize?

  5. hell noooooo, Hope not its not even my top 4 best of the year

  6. I love you, Sasha, but I have to disagree with you about this!! While sure anything can happen, I just can’t imagine American Hustle winning over 12 Years a Slave or Gravity. That, to me, would be the biggest travesty since Crash over Brokeback. PLEASE don’t tell me this entertaining but empty movie wins over two of the most important and monumental films of 2013!

  7. Let’s not forget Russell is a colossal ass who is already pissing people off with long, self-serving monologues and overexposure. Not to mention it’s pretty clear most of his cast had a terrible time. To win best director you need to be an amazing filmmaker (McQueen) or beloved (Scorsese) or both (Cuaron.)

  8. Bryce Forestieri

    By the way I predict 12 YEARS A SLAVE will win the PGA, the DGA, the SAG ensemble, the BAFTA, the Oscar…what else, oh yeah, The Globes blah blah so calm down

  9. Vanessa

    Shoot, everyone else beat me to it. I love watching the cast’s body language in Q&As with him. They all look terrified as to what he might say next. Even better is reading between the lines in interviews where they discuss his “process.”

  10. IF AH wins over much better films I would be majorly pissed

  11. Bryce Forestieri

    Oh yeah someone should give Christian Bale, Jennifer Lawrence, Jeremy Renner, Amy Adams, and Bradley Cooper OPTIONS so they don’t have to suffer Russell another time. Someone save these gals.

  12. Will have to disagree here and not sure how everyone is agreeing on American Hustle, I’ve heard a lot of negative feedback. In the betting odds, both Hustle and O’Russell have gone further and further out every day, there’s no momentum I can see. 12 Years A Slave will win, I am extremely confident.

    Otherwise, I agree with most of your predictions for the other categories. I’d still have Ejiofor ahead of Dern but it’s definitely closer than the betting odds say ($1.50 vs $21!!)

  13. Profile photo of Ryan Adams

    American Hustle is in my Top 12. No, hang on, it’s in my Top 13. At #13.

  14. I think at least one of the guilds has to speak first before American Hustle is crowned already. I can see it, but I’m still unsure until we hear from the PGA, which could easily pick Gravity. But if they do go for Hustle then the writing’s probably on the wall. I actually wouldn’t mind this one, though. I do think it’s better than the last three winners, and I calling it a screwball comedy isn’t a bad thing for me, because I LOVE those old screwball comedies. And yeah, most of those were never about anything substantial, but to me that doesn’t make them less great. I don’t think AH is as good as those old ones, but it is kind of a modern version of one.

  15. Zetto M.

    You people can formulate any ideas about how David O’Russell directs his actors, who he is as a person, how arrogant he is till the cows come. I highly doubt you’ve met him. Isn’t that type of attitude called presumptuous? Anyway I loved American Hustle (which is my very personal and subjective opinion), some people didn’t like it as much, and that’s their problem haha. But realistically we just have no idea what will win Best Picture, shit Llewyn Davis, Wolf of Wall Street, fuckin’ Her might just end up winning best picture. But sensible people predict it’s gonna be 12 Years a Slave, and it certainly damn well should.

  16. Vanessa

    Actually, I worked with Russell on two films. A friend dated him. And he’s worse than you can imagine. Aside from that, it’s not hard to see in any of his speeches or Q&As. And Christian Bale has gone on record in many interviews to discuss how much they butted heads on this. Believe what you want, but it’s not presumptuous.

  17. Profile photo of Ryan Adams

    One way we can be 1000% sure American Hustle will win Best Picture is if the DGA or Academy neglects to nominate David O Russell.

  18. Bryce Forestieri

    lol^

  19. Yeah, you really only have to listen to know Russell is still pretty despised despite all the PR. Film could win. He’s not getting director.

  20. A few things:

    1 – The King’s Speech- Social Network year has taught us that the tide can turn in an instant. Looking at that year as comparison, TKS was not winning a lot of critics awards either, but it swept the guilds that mattered. Right now the only advantage American Hustle has over 12 Years is that it has more critics recognition. With the guilds, they’re about equal with 12 Years slightly ahead (SAG nominated only Lawrence from AH while 3 actors from 12 Years got nominated)

    2 – 12 Years will get a lot of momentum when the BAFTA and AMPAS announces their nominations. There is no way AH gets more nominations in either group.

    3 – I do not see the DGA awarding O’ Russell. He doesn’t strike me as that guild’s favorite whom they’re aching to award. He wasn’t even nominated last year. DOR will get his Oscar, but for Screenplay and not as a Director this year.

    At this point, I think it’s Gravity and 12 Years who will win one or both of the PGA and DGA honors.

  21. I have yet to meet anyone who has actually “loved” American Hustle. Granted none of these people are in the Academy, but like most people here, I think it is nothing more than an entertaining film boasted by very good performances. As the others have said films like 12 Years A Slave, Gravity and for that matter Inside Llewyn Davis, The Wolf of Wall Street, Nebraska, Captain Phillips, All Is Lost, and Dallas Buyers Club kinda blow it out of the water.

  22. Let’s not forget that the film is just not that good. Critics got an early peek and liked it but audiences are overwhelming saying they find it the most overrated movie ever. Fun, but just not in the same league as these other films. You want to go with feel-good entertainment? Your choice is Gravity.

  23. Jake Bart

    This is sounding eerily plausible to me. It seems as if Russell and co. have learned their lesson after SLP peaked too early in the season last year… But NONE of this is about winning awards, of course.

    I’ll withhold judgement, but I will say that AMERICAN HUSTLE winning is a damn sight preferable to the whispers of an SLP upset last year. One means more power for Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures– an absolute beacon in terms of quality American film production– the other would have been another notch in Harvey’s belt.

  24. Richard B

    I just got done watching American Hustle and I think it’s a solid movie, but way overrated. I’m in the minority, but I prefer Argo and The King’s Speech as winners over AH. Anyway, I think you might be having a bad day Sasha because declaring the race over now I think is really unwise. 12 years a Slave swept the critics awards and the major groups spread their top prize to different films with 12 years always being a runner up. I think that is more of an indication of how strong a year it is than anything else. As for the industry, it awards what it wants to…and sometimes those films are challenging/daring. In my mind, we still have a race and AH isn’t leading it.

  25. Andrew S

    Sasha, I’m glad you’re going out on a limb and making a prediction early rather than waiting til the writing is on the wall, like most prognosticators do. That said, I’m not feeling like the momentum is behind Hustle. If it is – kudos to you and you the deserve credit if it happens. But, I feel that Hustle has lost a lot of momentum if anything. I think that all the talk and “controversy” surrounding Wolf of Wall Street has taken the heat off Hustle. It will get a lot of nominations for sure, but I think that 12 Years will prevail. On a stylistic level, 12 Years is a more traditional film and I would go out on a limb and say it’s actually a safer choice. I guess we’ll see!

  26. Bryce Forestieri

    Nvm that was Ryan. But anyways. I really can’t get worked up about this since AMERICAN HUSTLE is nowhere near my top 10, I think. It’s obvious to me MANY award-watchers despise David O. Russell for many different reasons. I don’t think anyone else hates him. I think he’s a nice guy, and yeah I’ve seen that video. I don’t see anything there that shocks me there, frankly. Didn’t Kubrick slap Shelley Duvall because she wouldn’t cry or something? Bibi Andersson has a few nightmarish anecdotes herself about El Maestro, etc, etc. But -again- I must be the twisted one because everyone else see something different in him. I would think the industry loves him. That’s the only case there’s evidence for. He’s going about to receive two more Academy Award nominations. Again, nobody can stand the guy, I trust you, guys.

  27. Jake Bart

    Also, maybe it’s just my own little bubble of the critics I read/follow on Twitter, but my sense of the reaction to AMERICAN HUSTLE was much more muted than the 90 Metacritic score suggests. Perhaps it is this year’s critical ARGO in that no one outright hates it or objects to it (which is where things like WOLF, GRAVITY, or 12 YEARS often get tripped up). Welcome to the Oscar version of Nixon’s silent majority. The fringe stand their ground and a less offensive center wins out.

  28. I actually think award-watchers are the ones who like him/root for him. But the industry has nothing but horror stories. And yes, his actors haven’t been terribly discrete in their feelings. I think he’ll get nominated, probably win screenplay, but can’t seem him getting director. Not for this film. It’s just too good a year.

  29. Jake Bart

    @Bryce O. Russell hasn’t made a film that’s in spitting distance of Kubrick and you’d never see any of the directors you mentioned trotting out to the Oscar campaigning “meat parade.” When O. Russell makes something as good as BARRY LYNDON, then I’ll eat crow. Until then, my prevailing reaction is he’s an asshole. I still pick up a dickish air whenever I see him in an interview. He could be a real mensch, but that’s the sense I get.

  30. When the hell did this happen? *goes back and reads the article*

  31. Antoinette, it didn’t happen – yet at least. I think it’s too soon to say.

  32. This film, American Hustle, only has hype because the industry and the critics and the media companies wanted it to have hype. It was cool to like this film and to predict it before it was even released. Also, as soon as David O. Russell wins an Oscar (he’s certainly on that upward trajectory), those same critics and people will totally be over him, as they were over Meryl Streep once she finally won. American Hustle really wasn’t something exceptional, but just a good, romp of a film. It is not a profound movie, nor does it provoke much conversation outside of its convoluted plot mechanics. I would be really disappointed to see it win BP, as I was when Argo and The King’s Speech won in recent years. And even more disappointed if at 23 years old, Jennifer Lawrence is a two-time acting winner.

  33. Robert A.

    I don’t buy this “American Hustle will win” sentiment, either. I’m going to need to see more evidence before I can jump on that bandwagon.

    I don’t get all this panic over 12 Years a Slave not being embraced by the critic prizes. What opposite world am I living in? True that 12 Years didn’t win one of the Big Three, but it was heavily in competition in all three, more so than any other movie, I think. It’s been by far the most consistent performer overall with the critical circuit. Plus 12 Years has won at least a dozen if not more of the critic prizes outside the Big Three (Boston, Chicago, SEFCC etc). I’m not sure how it came to be that 12 Years can win over a dozen critical BP prizes and we say critics turned their backs on 12 Years, while American Hustle can win one critic BP prize (granted one in the Big Three) and finish as runner-up in another and it’s considered the critical favorite and the one to beat for BP.

    You also should keep in mind some of the circumstances surrounding the wins at NYFCC and NSFC. People who were voting at NYFCC wrote up summaries of how the voting went, and 12 Years was in the lead in the early voting. As the afternoon wore on, some voters had to leave for other obligations, and AH ended up squeaking out a win. A win for AH, definitely, but hardly a runaway victory. NSFC has members from all over the country, but they vote in NY, so after the first round (where proxy votes count), you have to be present to vote, which obviously is going to favor NY voters. According to the boys at In Contention, NSFC has about 60 members, and after the first round of voting, when all members are allowed to vote, 12 Years a Slave was in the lead, with a three way tie for second between Gravity, Her, and American Hustle. Inside Llewyn Davis was in fifth place. When they had to go to the second round of voting, only present members would count, and the winners were chosen out of the 17 members present. That’s when Inside Llewyn Davis went from fifth to first and American Hustle got second.

    In short, all members vote=12 Years a Slave in the lead. 1/3 of the members vote=Inside Llewyn Davis wins and AH comes in second. Keep in mind, American Hustle had only ONE vote more than 12 Years with NSFC. ONE VOTE.

    That now makes it a cinch to win Best Picture?

    I’m not that surprised 12 Years didn’t win BP with NSFC. They tend to vote for worthy movies getting overlooked in the awards circuit, and 12 Years is hardly overlooked.

    In order for AH to win BP, I believe, it has to win either PGA or DGA. I don’t see it winning either over 12 Years a Slave or Gravity. I might be totally wrong, but I still think if 12 Years a Slave doesn’t win, it won’t be AH that takes it down, but Gravity.

    Until I see real concrete evidence, I just can’t get onboard with this “American Hustle wins BP” handwringing. I still believe 12 Years a Slave is the one to beat. Now if AH wins PGA, I’ll start handwringing with y’all.

  34. superkk

    didnt like the movie at all. i thought the performances were great but thats about it. no way it wins best pic.

  35. Say what you will, but American Hustle has done exceedingly well at the box office ($87 million so far), and continues to do so. It has been well received by the public. Whereas the overhyped 12YAS barely cracked $38 million in its entire theatrical run. Also, American Hustle won a major critics’ award for Best Film, unlike 12YAS. I wouldn’t choose American Hustle as best picture — I prefer The Wolf of Wall Street. But if Hustle does win, it’s understandable.

  36. American Hustle is too much of a mess to actually garner enough love to win Best Picture. Argo and King’s Speech was actually likable and rewarding, despite not deserving Best Picture. American Hustle was entertaining mess at its best moments… and that’s all .. nothing but a TOTAL MESS.

  37. More thoughts on American Hustle. It was anointed by American critics before it was even seen. Because David O. Russell is on an upward trajectory with the Oscars and many critics want to be on the winning team and want to be seen as cool and hip, the NY critics jumped at the opportunity to go unabashedly for that film, over much superior efforts. I bet 100% once Russell wins an Oscar he will no longer be on the radar of critics. Same happened with Meryl Streep after she finally won; Iron Lady was just as campy and ridiculous as August: Osage County, but no one wrote scathing reviews when they wanted her to get another win. There are so many other factors here outside of the quality of the films, unfortunately–corporate, industry, and political influences.

    I’m going to be devastated if Wolf of Wall Street gets fewer than 5 nominations, as I was last year with Zero Dark Thirty. The craft in those films was outstanding. Marty and Thelma edited Wolf over 1 year’s time (!!!), and people are saying he didn’t know what he was doing or the film is a mess (riiiiight). Sorry, then you don’t know great filmmaking. I have no doubt the American Hustle publicity team is behind many of the Wolf attacks, in addition to the Harvey Weinstein connection setting up that woman to write about how she’d rather see August: Osage County than Wolf. And if 12 Years a Slave underperforms, it will be equally upsetting.

    I really wish the Academy instituted stricter rules about the campaigning process, and didn’t leave any loopholes for the rich and powerful to get what they want all the time. The negative campaigning is at an all time high, and people are getting away with it. The Academy is profiting, so nothing will get done. And what suffers? The integrity of the Academy Awards.

  38. In a year of landmark filmmaking, the 3 best films actually came out in October… 12 Years, Gravity, and Captain Phillips. It would be a travesty if neither 12 Years nor Gravity wins the top award.

  39. American Hustle is going to be named Best Picture of 2013, that is the sentence I keep hearing in my mind.

    I just hear chamber music.

    But for those who think 12 Years a Slave is just “slavery is bad” have not really spent much time using their brains. Yeah, you know that big fat organ that sits between your ears

    Wait. What? I thought that was an actual organ. If it’s not, then why the hell am I hearing chamber music? D:

    Okay, now serious time. The last time I was as certain as I am now that you’re way too certain about what was going to win, it was the night before Oscar I think and you were freaking about because you were certain that THE KING’S SPEECH was going to beat THE SOCIAL NETWORK. And I was like ‘Don’t worry Sasha, THE SOCIAL NETWORK is totally gonna win.’ Anyway that was right before. This is super way early. You can think AMERICAN HUSTLE is going to win if you’re trying to cushion the blow in case it does happen by convincing yourself this early. But it is this early.

    I still think you should be pushing for TWOWS all the way.

  40. I detested The Fighter and Silver Lining’s Playbook. I cursed myself for watching the first and not turning it off, and then I turned off the later remembering the former.

    I have not liked a single Russell film since Three Kings. I have zero desire to see it. And even less desire to see it win anything.

    I see Cuarón winning director. Gravity is a highly technical film expertly crafted by Cuarón. A lot of split wins so far has Cuarón winning Director. The one thing I haven’t heard spoken too much is that a Latino would win Director. I’m pretty sure this would be a first.

    I could easily see a 12YaS/Gravity split.

  41. There are a lot of really smart, insightful people on this thread. It kind of reaffirms my faith in humanity somewhat. I think KT is onto something with critics anointing it based on WANTING to love it. And read Robert A.’s analysis of the NYFCC voting. Also, Jake Bart: no, you’re not the only one who gets that dickish air.

  42. The Best picture in my opinion is ‘Her’ and not ’12 years a slave’ like the moderator believes.. The only thing it say’s besides being a nice enough film is that “slavery is bad” blah blah.. The only people who really love TYAS as best picture are white people and that’s just odd in itself.. Blacks aren’t rallying behind this film, at all.. We know the horrors of slavery.. Speaking on behalf of the black coalition we’d like to see some black ACTORS finally get their due recognition by the academy and better roles.. She tweeted black directors have to go goofy to get recognition.. LOL.. Mighty white of her.. If there is any talk about Steve Mcqueen I’d love for the energy to be focused on the truly great film he wants to make but Hollywood won’t let him make instead of propping up a pretty good slave film.. Put the energy behind him and the actors for the wins not the film which is just pretty good not great.. That would mean so much more.. And Hustle won’t win and shouldn’t but it also doesn’t need a billion think piece take downs either .. It’s a solid film with great performances..

  43. “bald paunchy sad-sack Christian Bale.”

    Kind of a shame. The actor has charisma, but we don’t get to see it despite being told that he’s a guy who has a coolness about from Amy Adams.

    Anyway while I’ve been feeling this for the last week or so I still think they won’t be able to deny 12 Years a Slave. Maybe I’m in denial. The funny thing is that I’ve noticed Gravity has gotten some criticisms as being overrated which to me that great honor goes to American Hustle. Maybe it’s just because Hustle hasn’t made nearly the same amount of money, but if there was one movie this year praised by critics that has me scratching my head it is definitely American Hustle.

    Torn between making a character study or a con/caper flick, Russell was only mildly successful altogether and by the end I felt hustled once I looked past the production values, costume designs, and performances. Say what you will about the last 3 winners, but they weren’t messes like this. Awkward pacing and uneven tone with occasional moments of energy and movie magic, but 12 Years a Slave and Gravity are far more bold.

    Personally too if we are going on entertainment….how does Gravity not win? Well the Academy really respects acting. Okay and Bullock’s one man…or…one woman show isn’t impressive? Gravity has it in spades. Entertainment and heart. Cuaron is an intimate filmmaker and is just as good with actors as Russell if not better. I actually think some of Russell’s instincts were wrong. Adams scream on toliet. Lawrence(admittedly the most fun aspect)’s performance is at times all over the place. I guess Cooper was directed to act like he was on coke in the 2nd half, but correct me if I’m wrong…did we see him snort any? Is there a missing reel? Bale gets to brood mostly in the second half and apologize. “Yawn”. What a waste.

    Hopefully he will just win a screenplay award and that will be it even if it’s not deserving.

  44. Imagination99

    I don’t understand Sasha’s need to insult people who have different perceptions by calling them brainless. No one is calling her brainless for stating that AH will win ,even though we all know it won´t.

  45. SallyinChicago

    12 Yrs may not be the “best” movie, but it’s the most IMPORTANT movie.

  46. Yes, its all starting to sink in, isn’t it? That one fluffy vacuous messy silly little film that everybody likes is gonna win it all. Another to the list where budding cinephiles will look at Wikipedia’s entry for Best Pictures and say, “oh…they picked that? I didn’t think it was that good…”. Another year of daily updates and passionate pleas for other, better, smarter, challenging films, all for naught in the face of the safe and vanilla. Forget it Jake, its Chinatown, the trick is not minding that it hurts, and it all starts over again in April. Reviews from Cannes! Twitter hype! Toronto Audience Awards! etc

  47. When did Dern move into the lead? I feel like this one’s between Ejiofor and McConaughey, esp. if the latter gets no supporting nod for Mud. I definitely don’t see Dern winning if Redford is also nominated.

  48. Things it could very well win….

    Make-Up
    Editing(I shudder the thought)
    Original Screenplay(there ya go Russell)
    Supporting Actress
    Picture

    For some reason I feel like McQueen or Cuaron would still win. Yes the Academy likes actor’s director, but to some extent it sounds like Russell isn’t really that despite his last 2 films receiving 3 acting awards. I’d be totally okay with Megan Ellison supporting young Russell. Well she’s got Foxcatcher this year. Still need to see Her. Coming out this weekend. Can’t wait.

  49. I could be wrong, but I don’t see anything that indicates that American Hustle just became the frontrunner over 12 Years a Slave. Honestly I don’t think anything has changed at all. We’ll have to wait until the Golden Globes to find out.

    Although I really liked The Wolf of Wall Street (especially for DiCaprio’s performance), it will be the weakest winner of the decade so far if it wins. While I think it is leagues above Gangs of New York, The Aviator, and the awful Shutter Island, I still wouldn’t put it on the same level of Gravity, Before Midnight, and yes, American Hustle. AH deserves every bit of praise it has gotten. Amazing performances, characters that resonate, and a story that constantly shifts your perceptions of the characters involved in it. Even if it doesn’t win, I still think Russell will walk away with either Best Director or Screenplay (most likely the latter).

    Now for 12 Years a Slave’s box office. I read on EW that Fox Searchlight is re-expanding it on the 17th. If it does well at the Golden Globes (and I think it will), it will continue to do even better at the box office and there will be an even bigger case for it to win.

  50. representDLV

    For me, American Hustle and 12 Years a Slave are both movies I really wanted to like, but was ultimately disappointed by. They both could have been sooo much better. I think the best movie made this year is Gravity.

  51. Bryce Forestieri

    Armond White heckled Steve McQueen as he was accepting Best Director at NYFCC ceremony. What’s the angle?

  52. Joe Clinton

    “At the end of the day it is really just a screwball comedy not unlike something Frank Capra might have made.”
    More like a Preston Sturges comedy. Amy Adams’ fake persona seems deliberately lifted from Stanwyck’s Lady Eve Sidwich from “The Lady Eve”.

  53. Profile photo of Ryan Adams

    What is this, Bryce? Where did you read about it?

  54. I was feeling a win for American Hustle as well. 12 Years a Slave is admired but admiration doesn’t win you Oscars. Same goes for Gravity – it’s a marvel, yes, but it’s not loved. American Hustle will be the consensus pick.

  55. What’s funny about Scott Feinberg is, as Sasha said, he had it winning Best Picture sight unseen, but now that it’s out there for all to see and winning critics prizes, he has it at #4. WTF

  56. There’s a bunch of twitter responses about it, just search “Armond White Steve McQueen”

    I think White just loves to play the contrarian. His Criterion essays are some of the best film writing on the net, he’s clearly very knowledgable about the art of cinema. But he’s taking trolling to a new level

  57. American Hustle that is.

  58. Profile photo of Sasha Stone

    “Sasha, I’m glad you’re going out on a limb and making a prediction early rather than waiting til the writing is on the wall, like most prognosticators do. ”

    Exactly. We were talking about this last night in Santa Barbara, that this was the film that would probably win and I could have waited until one of the bigger groups predicted it, slowly but surely. I figured there is no point in making a point unless you do it early.

  59. richard crawford

    yes to americn hustle…over 12 yrs. a slave…& i so want jen lawrnce to win supporting…i have never connected before with her until this performance….At the same time…I do not think
    American Hustle is the best film or movie of the year….I think it has been a shit fuck year…..have not seen gravity….my favorite performances of the year are in a small film…THE SPECTACULAR NOW….Sorry Cate she wins over YOU.

  60. I think Academy members will regain sanity not to pick “American Hustle” for BP or BD after nomination is done. They’ll have a month to rethink what is more important for the history of cinema, and obviously “12 Years A Slave” is. And they will want to reward Alfonso Cuaron for his achievement in “Gravity.”

  61. I know one thing for sure. I would NOT want to be Kyle Buchanan if 12 Years a Slave doesn’t win. Then again I’m sure he is very well paid to see all the movies for free and write about them for a living, so maybe I wouldn’t mind being him after all.

  62. I know what you’re trying to do Sasha, you’re preparing yourself mentally for a fiasco of AMPAS awarding American Hustle as Best Picture, in the strongest year where a black director supposedly has the strongest chance EVER of winning best director. The importance of 12 Years a Slave, I believe, will be its saving grace and permit it to still win.

    In the event that TYAS and McQueen do not win picture and director, my disbelief, shock, horror, and anger will make my disbelief, shock, horror and anger of the Saving Private Ryan vs Shakespeare in Love, and Brokeback Mountain vs Crash seem like an immature hissy fit. I will be extremely pissed if American Hustle wins because it would be a complete, text book definition of a travesty!

  63. It may take the BAFTAs to calm your nerves about this, Sasha. But rest assured, when 12YAS wins BAFTA, it’s all over but the cryin’.

  64. “I figured there is no point in making a point unless you do it early.”

    Maybe that’s what Kyle Buchanan thought.

  65. Sasha, you’re delusional. American Hustle was the biggest piece of garbage I’ve seen in years, and it doesn’t stand a chance. This site has jumped the shark.

  66. 12 Years a Slave should not win Best Picture because white voters feel guilty and obligated to vote for it. It should not win because of the current state of race/politics in America. Nor should the history of the Academy Awards, and the fact that no realistic film about slavery has ever won, have an impact on voters. And Steve McQueen most definitely should not win Best Director just so he’d make history for being the first black man to win the award.

    12 Years a Slave SHOULD WIN Best Picture/Best Director because it is far and away the best film made this year. From directing, writing, acting, to its cinematography, soundtrack, makeup, and costumes, it is the standout film of 2013.

  67. Bryce Forestieri

    Ryan, yeah disgraceful.

    Anyone know if someone recorded Harry Belafonte’s speech? It has to turn up eventually, right?

  68. Al Robinson

    If I was an AMPAS voter, here’s the order in which I would vote for Best Picture:

    1. Gravity
    2. The Wolf of Wall Street
    3. 12 Years a Slave
    4. All Is Lost
    5. Nebraska
    6. Rush
    7. American Hustle

    If I could vote 100 times, those are the only movies I’d use at least 1 vote for for Best Picture. (Keep in mind, I still haven’t seen Inside Llewyn Davis or Her)

  69. Raymond

    When I left the theatre after American Hustle I mainly had one thought. Which was I would’ve liked to have seen Jennifer Lawrence dance to the rest of Live and Let Die with her gloves on. I’m not sure what that really says about the movie. It was a nice, enjoyable movie with fun/quirky performances and I did find myself sympathizing with Jeremy Renner’s character. That being said I’m not sure how you can watch this movie and Gravity and not see which one is the superior film. I know that film taste is subjective but just look at the work that was done with that movie. I watched the featurette on Gravity and I wonder if people need to see what goes on behind the scenes to get how that movie is made. Can you appreciate it without knowing how much work went into making it?

  70. phantom

    The unanimous critical reception American Hustle received is bizarre to me. Good film, sure, but (IMO) in a stylish, starstudded oceans11 kind of way and not in a Best Picture kind of way. Excellent performances no doubt but I really don’t think the script was all that great or that it should have a place in the Oscar top5. I don’t think it should win BP and I don’t think it will. Sure, a few Golden Globes because it is in Comedy, but I don’t think it could be a match for 12 when they face off in the same categories (SAG, PGA, BAFTA, BFCA). To me that wouldn’t make sense…then again I’m not a voter so who knows what they’ll do ?!

    P.s. LOVE Jennifer Lawrence but I really hope she won’t win a second for this. A second Oscar at her age should be for a performance that simply cannot be denied and I don’t think playing a different version of Tiffany (emotionally unstable HOT mess desperate for a man to love her) is that kind of a performance. ‘Serena’ (next year) on the other hand…

  71. Chris138

    I saw American Hustle over the weekend and the first thought I had walking out of the theater was, “What in the hell are all those critics and awards groups raving about?” I’m truly puzzled by the whole thing. It’s a sloppy mess that manages to get a few laughs here and there and contains a solid performance from Christian Bale. Otherwise, it left a lot to be desired. Just my opinion, of course, but I can’t believe this is seriously being considered as a front runner for Oscars in the same year we have gotten 12 Years a Slave, Gravity, Inside Llewyn Davis, Before Midnight, The Hunt, and The Wolf of Wall Street.

    What was really disappointing to me was how I actually enjoyed The Fighter and Silver Linings Playbook, but was bored by American Hustle and was counting down the 138 tediously long minutes for it to end. The whole thing plays like a dress up or poor imitation of Scorsese’s superior crime films. I think Mark Kermode hit the nail on the head recently when he described Russell’s film as “all hair but no heart.”

  72. Well, worse things have been rewarded…

  73. Al Robinson

    Something was nagging at me, like I felt I missed a movie in my rankings. I sure enough did. I forgot to rank Captain Phillips. I would rank Captain Phillips 6th, and move Rush to 7, and American Hustle to 8.

  74. Nope, I don’t see it happening, I don’t feel it happening, I am certain will NOT happen. Period.

    12 YEARS A SLAVE still has to be seen as the odds on favorite for all kinds of reasons.

  75. buford T Justice

    What a weak person Sasha is to completely capitulate like this ; a real defeatist ; Im going to completey ignore her predictions from now on
    She’s like a boxer who get’s hit hard then just lays down and refuses to get up … a real loser

    If it turns out she is right I will recognise her intuition and precience , but until then I will never take her serious again

    You can make the case for Gravity winning BP but American Hustle was just rubbish

  76. My dad is a 61 yr. old Academy type (likes the solid, meat and potatoes movie movies that often win best picture) … And he HATED American Hustle.

    He was so looking forward to it and even called me to say that he was actually “angry” walking out of the theater ’cause he expected a much better movie.

    As for all this AH-will-win chatter. It may. But Im sorry, I just dont see it happening right now. As I mentioned on twitter a few days ago. Its narratively messy. Messy pictures do not win Best Picture.

    Yes, it will probably win the Comedy GG. And yes, it mayyy win SAG Ensemble. I would only start to worry if it takes the PGA.

    The next few weeks will be miiiiiiigjty interesting (bafta noms, DGA, PGA, Oscar noms, etc)

  77. buford T Justice

    You just never can tell about people , some of us have steely determination and flint inside , while others are just mush

  78. For me it comes down to Gravity, American Hustle, and Twelve Years a Slave for the Best Picture award. I’ve seen all three films of course and loved all three of them …

    My favorite? American Hustle by a nose hair …

  79. buford T Justice

    The general consesus about A H was ”Was that It ”?…a pityifully over rated movie that was ”much ado about nothing ” …I wasn’t impressed with Argo , but it was better than AH and it was a movie about a movie

    It attempts to be a latter day version of ”THE STING ” but is just lame and rather pathetic , in a similar way to Silver linings was

  80. buford T Justice

    A movie like A H is a frivilous movie that would appeal to the under 35 crowd ….folks who are over 60 have far more mature tastes in movies than this …in fact , for someone to claim that they were imp[ressed with A H just speaks volumes about their vacuous frame of mind

    The movie was simply a mess

  81. buford T Justice

    Here in the UK the betting odds for 12 YAS are 1/2 on

    Gravity is 10/3 while AH is 15/2 …if someone believes that A H will win then they have an ideal opprtunity ….I WOULDNT WASTE ONE PENNY ON IT

  82. if they want entertainment and a movie liked by everyone than why the hell would they not pick GRAVITY because its clearly innovative and has one the highest repeat viewings among the best picture candidates so why not and AH is just slow and all over the place other than J-LAW.

  83. 1. My stance on 12 Years A Slave:
    My mom once said, “There’s a lot of people who will vote for Obama based solely on the color of his skin.”

    My reply was, “There’s a lot of people who WON’T vote for Obama based solely on the color of his skin, so what’s your point?”

    I think 12 Years A Slave is flat out the best film of this year, and easily the best film in the last decade. Does it really matter how it gets its votes? There will be the guilty who vote for it, just like there will be the racists who won’t, as well as those who truly believe it is the best film and others who think some other picture is better. It’s absolutely pointless to worry about the WHYs… I just hope it is victorious.

    2. I’m hoping that this article is actually something you’re putting out there to switch the frontrunner target from 12YAS to American Hustle. If it is, good for you!!! Switch the backlash momentum!!!

    3. I must disagree with you, Sasha, when you say that Argo is “just a big, funny party where nothing is particularly at stake.” I wouldn’t necessarily describe it as that… Chicago on the other hand was totally that, but obviously intended to be so; even it had its message.

    4. I still think a split could happen: Cuaron takes director with 12YAS taking picture (American Hustle could also substitute in the picture category).

  84. Her
    12 Years A Slave
    The Wolf Of Wall Street
    American Hustle
    Gravity
    Inside Llewyn Davis

    If any of the above 6 movies wins Best Picture I’m good. All great movies, all deserving in their own way. If Saving Mr. Banks wins (still honestly not out of the question, you guys. I’m serious), THAT would be a disappointment. Of course, I suspected that movie had a good shot nearly a year ago when I saw a test screening of it. But at the end of the year, with so much good stuff to talk about (in particular those 6 movies above), it would be a shame if they went with the REAL safe choice.

    AH is a really good movie, and if it won I’d feel the same about it as I did when The Artist won. “Ah, that’s nice. Good for that movie”. If Her or TWOWS won, I’d explode from happiness. If Inside Llewyn Davis won, my jaw would drop to the floor then crawl away. If 12 Years A Slave won, I’d say “its about fucking time”.

  85. Anyway, can we just wait this discussion to predict the “winner” after the actual nomination is done? It’s kind of meaningless to worry if a movie that is not “worthy” may win now. Sasha sounds like creating unnecessary attention to “American Hustle” becoming a “frontrunner.”

  86. Chris138

    “A movie like A H is a frivilous movie that would appeal to the under 35 crowd ….folks who are over 60 have far more mature tastes in movies than this”

    The crowd I saw American Hustle with was actually mostly middle aged to older people. I was one of the few younger audience members, not enjoying myself, while everyone else was loving it. It’s definitely a safer film to enjoy than, say, The Wolf of Wall Street. Younger people have been laughing hysterically at that whereas the older audience members have been bolting for the exit door within the first half hour.

  87. “Atone?” Who goes to the movies to atone? (Maybe some liberals do? It is easy and sweat-free.)

  88. The continuous take downs of American Hustle are childish and nauseating but I will give Sasha credit for not pushing WOWS to win even tho she thinks it was great when it wasn’t.. The people that say American Hustle says nothing then turn around and pretend WOWS does.. HA!! Yo must have never gotten laid or had a college experience if you loved Wolf that much.. It had no plot what so ever. I wouldn’t be mad if TYAS won i just think HER was better and should win best picture…. Also with the continuous hating on AH for best picture you are seriously screwing Amy Adams out of a Best Actress upset which she deserves… J Law probably shouldnt win best supporting actress oscar but shes runner up and if she squeaks a couple run up to Oscar awards that wouldnt be bad wither..

  89. My opinion, American Hustle and Gravity are 2 of the worst movies ive seen this awards season. 12 Years a Slave is yet to open in Australia so I cant comment (yet)…

  90. Profile photo of Ryan Adams

    Yo must have never gotten laid or had a college experience if you loved Wolf that much..

    ok, that must be the reason. sad to realize all my memories of those years must be hallucinations… really insanely wild hot thrilling hallucinations.

  91. Pierre de Plume

    I think Hustle will win, I think Russell will win – he doesn’t have to be likable to take it. I also think the Academy is ready to give J Law 2 Oscars back to back. They like her enough to do it. Slave could go home empty-handed with nothing but a boatload of nominations, though Ejiofor conceivably could win in a quasi-Adrien Brody sort of way. As always, this isn’t about what should win but what will probably win.

    For awhile I thought Dern would win – but now I’m not so sure.

  92. JPNS Viewer

    “The State of the Race: American Hustle Takes the Lead to win Best Picture”

    Does Sasha happen to know something industrially intimate we many of us might not know at least for the time being? Or is she strategically doing something subtle here . . . . ? Etc.

    Anyway, I like Hustle very much.
    Certain sights unseen aside, […] wouldn’t mind Hustle and/or O. Russell winning the jackpot this year.

    Did read some of the comments – to be honest, […] felt like some plants were being at work. Moreover, do we need to go down south and become ad hominem, folks? Why treated the said person as if he allegedly molested a minor and had to flee the country . . . . . . . .

  93. Fielding Mellish

    Given preferential voting for Pic, I’d say Captain Phillips is more likely to win than AH.

  94. I don’t agree with the comparison between American Hustle and Frank Capra films. his films always had some optimistic and a little over idealistic messages about life. also Chicago was a satirical musical which, in my opinion, became more substantial when people like Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian became the most famous people in the world. and Argo is a dramatized account on actual events, many people were unaware of. so these movies were not just silly party.

  95. The surprising thing of the whole season for me is the level of support American Hustle is getting from both the critics and industry bodies.

    12YRS failed to win LAFCA, NBR, NYFCC, NSFC and this is not a good sign. People seem to look for an alternative BP movie to vote for and American Hustle is the safest choice.

  96. I love American Hustle and I believe it is poised to win Oscar BP… I’m betting it will win the SAG and the Golden Globes. If it eventually wins PGA then I think the game is over… And I just hope Amy Adams gets in that Oscar five!

  97. Whoever says that David O. Russell doesn’t have to be likable to take it, needs to be reminded of Jason Reitman losing adapted screenplay after winning the Globe, the WGA, the BAFTA, the LAFCA and being considered a lock. And the reports that people who worked closely with Reitman and Ivan Reitman being over the moon that Jason lost. David O. Russell has been an asshole quite often in the past and maybe it could have been of lesser importance, had he actually directed a film they couldn’t ignore, which isn’t the case.

    I believe that we can’t compare American Hustle and Argo, because Argo was about a political crisis and raised some important questions (well, we could all pretend it did or Hollywood could) while American Hustle is a big entertaining mess. It doesn’t have tha gravitas to win best picture. And I believe the Academy knows that it’ll look very, very bad snubbing 12 Years A Slave. The film’s going to win directing and picture. American Hustle could take original screenplay (which would be a shame, since Spike Jonze should take that, but it’s not a film they’ll embrace wholeheartedly).

  98. Sammy, didn’t The Social Network win LAFCA, NBR, NYFCC, NSFC ?

    AMPAS doesn’t need to follow the critics’ picks. But yes, it was worrisome to me that TYAS was not recognized by those groups, and I have a suspicion as to why.

  99. Scott (the other one)

    The clear trend of the post three years is for BP to go, not to the “important” film, but to the one that pleases the audience while having a patina of quality.

    Hence, The King’s Speech over The Social Network.

    The Artists over several others, for me The Tree of Life.

    Argo over Lincoln.

    It is certainly a strong possibility that this will happen again.

    Sasha — I also wonder when you moved Bruce Dern up to front runner. These old-timers either get the career award, or they just get a “it’s an honour to be nominated” nomination. I feel like Dern is in the latter category, and won’t win. Much as I thought American Hustle was just okay, I thought Christian Bale was superb, and I’d be sad if he isn’t even nominated.

    And do you really think the utterly inconsequential fluff of Saving Mr. Banks is still going to get a Best Pic nomination? If only nine films get nommed, then on your list Banks would oust Llewyn Davis, which would be a scandal since ILD is, in my view, the best American film of the year, and one of the Coens’ flawless movies (along with Fargo and No Country for Old Men).

  100. steve50

    KT nails it again: More thoughts on American Hustle. It was anointed by American critics before it was even seen.

    The pre-release drooling was everywhere, so the film had it’s ticket to the top right out of the gate. The built-in squads of supporters for McQueen, Cuaron, Jonze and the Coens are much smaller, so the films have to prove themselves. The traps were set for Scorsese with the flurry of rumours about the film being in trouble because it was late, then the faux-morality indignation when it was delivered.

    But the biggest disappointment was the critics playing into this, especially in a year of challenging, original and thoughtful alternatives. I wouldn;t call AH “bad”, but it doesn’t approach the greatness as at least a half dozen other contenders do.

    So what else is new? May as well give AH 4 or 5 Oscars and keep the tradition alive.

  101. steve50

    In 1973, The Sting won BP because it was a crowdpleaser and had no controversy surrounding it. It was not the best film that year – but a much better film than American Hustle – and there are enough comparisons to its win and AHs chances.

    – The team behind The Sting had recently lost, surprisingly, with Butch Cassidy; Russell has missed BP twice with SLP and the Fighter.

    – The Sting was a humorous crime caper set 37 years prior to it’s release date; AH is a humorous crime caper set 35 yrs prior to its release date. Nostalgia + humor cannot lose, never has, never will.

    – George Roy Hill was a well-liked H’wood insider, but he was no Bergman or Bertolucci. I’m sure the sentiment of “now or never” prevailed; Russell, ditto, and he is no McQueen, Cuaron or Scorsese.

    – While at least two of the films nominated with The Sting were far better, they were either divisive or just too serious; it will be the same with AH.

    The big difference – and I remember it well – while everybody was secretly rooting for The Sting to win, few openly expected it to happen. We know better now.

    Funny how the more things change, the more they stay the same.

  102. If I were able to vote for BP my first choice would be The Wolf of Wall Street, runner up Gravity. Not 12 Years a Slave which I consider a good but not great film.

  103. “My stance on 12 Years A Slave:
    My mom once said, “There’s a lot of people who will vote for Obama based solely on the color of his skin.”

    My reply was, “There’s a lot of people who WON’T vote for Obama based solely on the color of his skin, so what’s your point?”

    I think 12 Years A Slave is flat out the best film of this year, and easily the best film in the last decade. Does it really matter how it gets its votes? There will be the guilty who vote for it, just like there will be the racists who won’t, as well as those who truly believe it is the best film and others who think some other picture is better. It’s absolutely pointless to worry about the WHYs… I just hope it is victorious.”

    THANKS KELLY! I COMPLETELY AGREE!

  104. filmboymichael

    I’m not going to debate here between the two films duking it out – I actually loved them both for much different reasons.

    Sasha, you made mention of the unbelievability of Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence’s characters fighting over Christian Bale’s…I take issue with that, mainly because I’ve spoken to many, many people who find his character incredibly sexy, even if they know they shouldn’t – my partner included who likes them young and lean! Now, after seeing AH for a third time, I can see it – it’s the swagger, it’s the, yes, it’s the combover and those glasses….it’s something that shouldn’t add up, and yet it does.

  105. If Sasha is going for the reverse jinx, then count me in. I liked AH, but it isn’t a top 5 movie this year and it may not be a top 10 for me(still have some catching up to do). I don’t think it will win. Nothing has occurred yet to make me think 12 years won’t win best picture and director. Even if it wins the Golden Globe, it is winning in the comedy category. 12 years will win in the Drama category and will hopefully clean up some of the other precursors.
    I hope Sasha is wrong and I know she hopes she is too.

  106. I wouldn’t phrase it as the most important film hasn’t won in the past three years. Simply, the BEST film nominated hasn’t won. If the Academy breaks from that tradition I would be thrilled.

    steve50: I myself was guilty of jumping on the American Hustle train due to the huge buzz it had. I thought it was going to be a better film than Wolf because it had hype, Russell’s been very consistent (and Scorsese’s last few films haven’t been my favorites), and I thought the concept was more interesting. But then I saw the films. And was so thrilled the Scorsese-DiCaprio collaboration finally produced something that really impressed and said something profound.

  107. If AMERICAN HUSTLE won Best Picture… I’d say it’d be my least favorite of at least the past 25 years. I’m glad I’m seeing the majority of people on this thread say they, also, found it to be incredibly mediocre. Jennifer Lawrence stole the show, but not because she was terrific, because she was always flamboyant and loud. How anyone could vote Lawrence over Nyong’o is beyond me. One is a performance of the soul and the other is just a bad impression.

  108. Saving Mr. Banks – which I quite liked – is either a possible frontrunner based on many Academy reports, or wont even make BP and all those “reports” will go down the toilet. Im curious as to where it will fall

  109. I am a SAG voter and my final ballot will be the following (after seeing all of the screeners, stream, showings, etc.):

    Ensemble: 12 Years a Slave
    Actor: Bruce Dern
    Actress: Cate Blanchett
    Support Actor: Jared Leto
    Support Actress: Lupita Nyong’o

    If I were an AMPAS member, I would vote for “Gravity” as BP, given great direction, acting, technicals, editing.

    “American Hustle” is a fine film, but can’t be taken serious. It seems as though it needed 6 more months in pre-production before shooting and feels rushed, simplistic and “all about D.O. Russell”. There were bright spots of individual acting, but as a whole, the film just doesn’t come together like “12 Years”. A vote for AH would not be a serious SAG vote – and seems to me to be a weaker film than “Argo” (and I voted last year for Zero Dark).

    My vote is not based on gender or race, but simply on the craft, individually and collectively, in acting. Remember, actors are about 1/8 of total AMPAS voters, too. Thank goodness.

  110. Uncle Jay

    ‘The Wolf of Wall Street” SHOULD win, but the Academy doesn’t have the BALLS! I have no problems with “American Hustle” winning!! Let it ride.

  111. Daveylow

    I was listening to a British film critic over on the Guardian web site who loved Silver Linings Playbook. She said the problem with American Hustle was that the actors seemed to be having a better time than the audience and that the whole film seemed rushed. She felt Russell should have spend more time on the film.

    I don’t think BAFTA is going to love American Hustle as much as the US critics do so we’re going to see a reality check there. And except for the NYFCC, Hustle hasn’t won many top prizes from the critics so there is no evidence it is universally loved.

    American Hustle doesn’t make my best list at all.

  112. American Hustle nodded off after the first 20 minutes or so while watching the screener at my buddy’s. Only part I enjoyed were the scenes with Jennifer L.

  113. richard Crawford

    there will be an upset…in the actor’s race…men.

  114. I haven’t seen half of it, when taking your list as reference, Sasha. But one thing I know for sure, I had more fun watching August: Osage County than American Hustle. And that isn’t saying much about AOC. I won’t say AH is a bad film, but I do think it is overrated.

    Just looking at the For Your Consideration header you have here on the site, with 12 Years a Slave it feels like Lincoln all over again. And I’m not comparing films here, not completely. But although being a big fan of Lincoln, 12YAS is a much better film, and still something is making me feel that it will come out of it with one, maybe two, of those golden statues. I hope I’m wrong, but AMPAS doesn’t have the guts.

    I cannot actually say I have a favorite this year. Mainly because I haven’t seen much. And those I have seen didn’t take my breath away, not even Gravity. However, as always, I hope the best will win and usually I’m left disappointed. A lot of great films competing this year, so someone will be satisfied in the end. I guess that’s a good thing.

  115. joeyhegele

    “Plus, David O. Russell is kind of overdue when you think about it. He’s been at the game a long, long time and perhaps his ship has finally come in.”

    Great article in general, but the above sentence really irks me. The whole “overdue” mentality with the Academy is really overblown.

    When Martin Scorsese finally won an Oscar for The Departed, he had directed 20 feature films, the majority of which were considered among the best of their respective years, and three of which (Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, and Goodfellas) are considered among the best movies ever made. He had been nominated for 8 Oscars personally, and his films had a total 64 nominations (6 of which were for Best Picture) with a resulting 15 wins. He had been making films for 5 decades. He was overdue.

    David O. Russell, on the other hand, has directed 7 feature films. Only about half are considered among the best of their respective years, and as far as I am concerned only Three Kings can be called a truly great piece of art (the rest are just great entertainment). He has been personally nominated for three Oscars, and his films had a total 15 nominations (2 of which were for Best Picture) with a resulting 3 wins. He has been making films for 2 decades (his first film was in 1994). He is not overdue.

    It is looking more and more probable American Hustle will win Best Picture. Like the three previous winners, it is a very fun and (even more importantly) funny film. People will feel good voting for this movie. Every once in a while a great piece of art like recent winners No Country For Old Men and The Hurt Locker win Best Picture, but they are just flukes. Films that make people happy win, and American Hustle makes audiences very happy. If David O. Russell wins Best Director, it will be because Academy voters loved his movie, not because they thought he was overdue.

  116. Robin Write

    I recently watched American Hustle. And I liked it. However, I was not disappointed in the movie itself so much; I was a little disappointed by the rave reviews it has been getting in comparison to how I received it; and I was a little disappointed I did not like it more; I would be very disappointed if it wins Best Picture.

    American Hustle as a list of ingredients is certainly mouth-watering, but once you have eaten and digested it you just know there were some ingredient missing, just don’t know what it is.

    I had to read the article twice believe it or not, as the first time I wrote it I wondered if perhaps Sasha had lost her marbles. Was she actually predicting this? Being hypothetical? It is a bold prediction, and even if it happens, there is not much backing this up as it stands.

    In fact, American Hustle is the movie that could. It could win big, including most of the the major categories. It could also lose big, as in get a lot of nominations, but perhaps come away with nothing. I personally think the latter is more likely.

  117. Robert A.

    I think people are overdoing it with the idea that the Academy will only reward a movie if it’s “happy” or makes them “feel good.” It’s an overly simplistic argument. The Hurt Locker, NCFOM, The Departed etc are just recent examples of BP winners that weren’t happy or feel-good movies. And I don’t think such wins are just “flukes.” The pendulum shifts back and forth with the Academy. Does AMPAS often reward sort of generic, middlebrow movies? Of course! But are there certain years when they reward something that’s a little darker or more substantive and high quality? Yes.

    I’m in disagreement with the point-of-view that because the last three BP winners were “fun” (actually, I’m even in disagreement that the last three winners were just all fun and games–another overly simplistic argument, but that’s another matter), that means this year’s winner will have to fit that “pattern.” Eventually, the pendulum is going to swing back in the opposite direction. The longer a certain “type” of movie wins, I think the less likely it is for that trend to continue with each subsequent year.

  118. I’m sorry, Sasha, but calling Django Unchained a “fun” slavery movie is a pretty low blow. The only “fun” parts were the interactions between Waltz and Foxx or the horse nodding his head. Other than that it was a brutal movie with the fist fighting, the dogs tearing up the runaway slave and bringing Kerry Washington out of a hot box. I just think “fun” is the wrong word.

    Also, you say that there are a handful of black filmmakers in the running but it won’t matter because American Hustle will take it all. You make it seem like there is no justice UNLESS a black filmmaker wins it all. If Wolf of Wall Street was the front runner to win best picture and director, which you claim to be the best of the year, would you still have made that statement?

    Armond White is a horses ass. Belafonte gave a beautiful speech and McQueen expressed his gratitude. What better way to ruin a moment than to have Armond Suckmydick White calling one of the most talented filmmakers working today an “embarrassing doorman and garbage man”.

  119. Profile photo of Ryan Adams

    I’m sorry, Sasha, but calling Django Unchained a “fun” slavery movie is a pretty low blow.

    Tell that to the Christmas Day audience full of hyenas when I saw it, the crowd of maniacs who never stopped laughing at Django’s slapstick violence from beginning to end.

  120. Then that’s their problem for laughing like that. It doesn’t mean it should be categorized as “fun” just because a group of people thought it was. The audience I was in certainly weren’t laughing like hyenas. When describing a film Sasha should use the word she felt when watching. If she had a fun time watching Django, which I doubt she did, then the word “fun” would apply.

  121. Because I for one was horrified during some scenes.

  122. Bob Burns

    yep – that’s how I see it, too (just saw this commentary by Sasha. I’m guessing it will get a huge Oscar box office bump, too….. like Chicago.

    I do think there is time for a reaction, though – like The Pianist.

  123. @ Ryan Adam you are proof that white people love slavery movies.. Doesn’t matter if it’s Django or TYAS white people are gonna LOVE it… So weird. They’re both just good not great movies.. Django was just 3 hours of rinse wash and repeat.. And your WOWS jab.. I love filth but after an hour and a half even I was bored of it all.. Frat bros aren’t evening buying that movie. HER for the best picture win.. That would be righteous and a Spike Jonze speech to boot .. bring it..

  124. Profile photo of Ryan Adams

    @ Ryan Adam you are proof that white people love slavery movies..

    I despised Django Unchained and all the regular readers here at Awards Daily know it.

    Possibly you have English comprehension problems if you think I’ve taken any “jabs” at The Wolf of Wall Street.

  125. Oh God! First time ever that I hope you are wrong. I might not have totally agreed with the last 4 Best Picture winners, but I could appreciate their achievements. This does not go for American Hustle. It is a actor orgy and that’s it. No ground breaking achievement like 12 Years or Gravity. Sasha, if we go by your theory that Best Picture is a movie that you can sit anyone down in front of and they will like it, American Hustle is far from that!

  126. Ceeza, I love 12 Years a Slave and I love Django. But not because I’m white. Quit stirring the pot, troll.

  127. rufussondheim

    I think it’s fair to call DU a “fun” slave movie. Yeah, it had some serious effective moments, but those probably filled up 20 minutes of a 2 1/2 hour film. It’s purpose was to be a rollicking revenge fantasy, and to be one of those the audience needs to understand the desire for revenge.

    I said it elsewhere, if AH gets only 1 acting nomination it will lose, if it gets 2 it will be a slight underdog, if it gets three, it will be the favorite. If, somehow, it gets 4, it will be a juggernaut.

    I haven’t read the whole thread, but there is plenty of time this year (because of the Olympics) for AH to get some backlash. It’s still the shiny new toy. It might get discarded fast. I still think 12 years is the favorite because it will get the most nominations, and as we all know that will propel it to the lead in the conversation as people take notice. Sure, Argo didn’t have the most last year, but we know that was the exception among exceptions.

  128. Jerry Grant

    Very confused, and ultimately irritated, by this article, which ultimately makes possible a full 126 comment-thread full of unnecessary and over-exaggerated vitriol towards a damn good movie.

    Why get so angry about AH winning BP, when it hasn’t won yet, and nobody has any idea whether it’s the frontrunner or not? If it’s a prediction, let it be a prediction, but not an exhausting tirade against “the forces that be.” Is this just a ploy to turn public opinion against AH? Another way to hate David O. Russell publicly? I’m not convinced at all AH is winning, and neither are a bunch of people. If the nominations show up with Bale, Adams, Cooper, and Lawrence, then I’ll be more convinced that the tide is in its favor. But I don’t think that’s gonna happen.

    “But for those who think 12 Years a Slave is just “slavery is bad” have not really spent much time using their brains. Yeah, you know that big fat organ that sits between your ears”

    Who’s saying that? Nothing I’ve heard or read by anyone has said that. Did one person say it? Why build a straw man?

    “American Hustle is going to be named Best Picture of 2013, that is the sentence I keep hearing in my mind.”

    Maybe so, but hearing things in your mind does not make them real. Certainly not real enough to get angry at AMPAS voters, and prompt a hundred comments talking about what a terrible movie AH is.

    Actually, _American Hustle_ is a really awesome impressive lovable movie made by a filmmaker who is inspiring many young filmmakers with his eye for spontaneity and positivity. David O. Russell is not a bore. He’s experimental. Since when do we on this website trash a boundary-pushing filmmaker, simply because it doesn’t excite us as much as other boundary-pushing filmmakers? (Oh that’s right, since last year and the year before.) It’s not some mediocre behemoth or anything; in fact, that description is as far from any of Russell’s movies that I can think. (12 Years is my #3 for the year, AH is my #6; I’m not rooting for an AH win.)

    Are we just inventing fights because we don’t have enough of them? We have enough of them. 12 Years is still neck-and-neck, if not ahead of AH.

  129. JamDenTel

    David O. Russell isn’t overdue. He’s not that great a director. I’ve seen Three Kings, The Fighter, SLP, and Hustle. There’s good direction in all of them, but nothing that made me think, “Wow, he’s good”. His strong suit is getting good performances out of his cast, and Bale was so good here it helped me forget that Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence were both miscast and had badly underwritten roles to play (especially Lawrence). He does pull off some good scenes, like the charity ball, and I would never call him incompetent–but that’s not high praise. He’s a slightly more indie Ron Howard.

    You know who’s overdue? Lars von Trier. Never gonna win. Will probably never be nominated. Deserves an Oscar infinitely more than David O. Russell does.

  130. I have a difficult time imagining any film but Gravity and any director but Cuaron win this year.

    I think Russell will win best screenplay and Cooper best supporting Actor, maybe J Lawrence best supporting actress but that’s it.

    For sure American Hustle will win a deserved SAG for best ensemble.

    Here what I feel: Gravity is a technical cinematic wonder with a heart, American Hustle is just actors heaven, it makes the audience love the characters and it feels like each of them is the center of the movie; it’s very enjoyable and very very American.

    Those two great movies will cut out 12 Years a Slave which is as intense as divisive.

  131. Robin Write

    @JamDenTel

    “Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence were both miscast and had badly underwritten roles to play (especially Lawrence).”

    Their seemingly miscast roles were, in my opinion, a huge part of what was so good about them. I am not sure I have seen either in roles like that, but both performances impressed me.

  132. Rufus, I’ll agree with you there. It was a revenge fantasy but I just felt using the word “fun” seriously undermined all of the more effective moments Tarantino was going for. As a matter of fact, some of those moment in Django hit me harder than some in 12 Years a Slave because in 12 Years I was expecting to be horrified. In Django it seemed more light until those moments came, like the pack of dogs on a runaway slave and focusing on Foxx and Waltz. It made me realize that for all the humor the characters had this was still set in a violent, hateful time in America.

    Also, Rufus, Silver Linings got 4 acting noms and didn’t win best picture. I know comparing Silver Linings to American Hustle is apples and oranges considering AH is more a period piece (one plus) than SLP. But 12 Years will have 3 acting noms, 2 of them are the front runners for the win. Bale has the toughest getting in, he still has to surpass maybe 3 or 4 others on the sideline while Amy Adams is maybe 6th in line. That 5th spot is between Adams, Larson or Adele.

  133. Akumax, Bradley Cooper is not winning. You can take that to the bank. He hasn’t won any precursors and has no SAG nomination. BUT…if he is nominated for an Oscar and wins, then it’s a done deal that American Hustle is winning best picture.

  134. Just some thoughts.

    Since when did “darkness” or “high ambition” automatically equate to “quality”? If one of these types of “challenging” movies is going to win Best Picture, then it actually has to live up to its ambitions first. The King’s Speech, The Artist, and Argo may not fit this category but I would take any of them over Inception, Drive, or The Master (and I like those movies as well). Wanting something to win Best Picture simply because it is different from other winners is lame and unfairly sets up other movies for failure.

    @joeyhegele: So what I learned from your comment is that, (1) a filmmaker has to be really old in order to be overdue, and (2), that “feel good” movies can’t be “pieces of art.” Please, no.

    I think it’s fair to call DU a “fun” slave movie.

    No, it’s not. It is by far the least “fun movie” Tarantino has ever made.

    It was anointed by American critics before it was even seen.

    Seriously? I could easily make the argument that this website was set to hate American Hustle before it was even seen. I can make baseless, silly accusations as well. See how that works? Let’s save the conspiracy theories for somewhere else.

  135. @Kane I’m no troll.. Why can Sasha talk about race ie black directors, which I don’t mind, but I can’t talk about white audiences? Grow up.. I find it odd that the majority of support for Slave as Best Picture is from white people while minorities are unmoved.. It stirred no debate or dialogue in the black community. I’m happy for Steve Mcqueen but what I really want to hear about is the truly great movie he has yet to make rather then give Best picture to a decent slave film. I think it’s better than Hustle but like Hustle the parts are better than the sum ie director and performances.. Her for the Best picture win..

  136. Is this an attempt to create a backlash against the momentum of American Hustle? We all know as Oscar watchers that being the frontrunner is not the place to be. And I think that’s what you’re doing here, even when we all know 12YAS is still the one to beat. I don’t even like American Hustle all that much and don’t think it’s deserving of Best Picture. But I thought this was a pretty low attempt at campaigning for 12YAS which you obviously think should win.

  137. Buford T Justice

    I don’t for one moment think A H will win , but if O Russell were to win at the GG’s as Sasha is predicting then things could change fast ; also if Lawrence , Adams and Bale won at the Globes it would be indicitive of the love they have for AH

    Last year the Globes were prescient in their predictions and I do tend to take them serious ..we’ll just have to wait until sunday

    here in the UK 12YAS is running wild and I cannot imagine A H winning anything at BAFTA

  138. Buford T Justice

    CEEZA .I actually know quite a number of black folk who say they have no intention of watching 12 YAS , simply because they don’t want to be reminded of the evil that was done to them and find it upsetting , to say the least …many jewish folk feel the same way about Holocaust movies as the memories are still too painful

  139. @Buford T Justice Exactly on the not wanting to see it front.. I wouldn’t mind if Amy Adams won but who knows if she’ll even get nominated now with the hate campaign against the film. My question is to people like Sasha who say Slave is the most ‘important” movie so it should win, important to who exactly? and Sasha just because it’s content and director 12 years is not a “black movie” no more than “Django’ was. Butler isn’t a “black movie” either even tho Lee Daniels.. Precious and Fruitalville Station however are black movies.. The Help wasn’t a “black movie” either you goofy..

  140. unlikely hood

    I liked American Hustle the first time I saw it, when it was called Boogie Nights.

    Seriously, though, P.T. Anderson did more interesting things with his camera at the age of 27 than Russell is doing at twice that age. And those things weren’t just showy tricks: they helped underline the themes of that film. Every time.

    I liked American Hustle. After hearing how fluid and improvised and seemingly-spontaneous it was, I watched it wondering why it wasn’t *more* that way. The moment when Bale wants Lawrence to get off the phone and the camera swish-pans over to Lawrence saying she’s not on it (though she is): that was funny, and good. And rare. Most of the film is shot quite conventionally (compared to the wonderful manic energy of Flirting With Disaster and Three Kings). I think the performances were GREAT but the film didn’t have that fly-on-the-wall Cassavetes-Altman-Mike Leigh feeling. I wish I could say it had some other more assured feeling, like a jazz soloist who knew where he was going, but it more felt like Russell was just being careful not to make any camerawork mistakes. That’s fine, but it’s hardly what we associate with the greats like Cuaron, Scorsese, and Greengrass.

    Still, it was a fun, fine film. If it wins…it’s just another 40-year-old white male lead in a history-based redemption plot that concludes with a capital-P performance…winning BP for the fourth time in a row. In and of itself, ok. As a decade, though, the Oscars would be making themselves kinda meh. They need 12YAS more than 12YAS needs them.

  141. Best movie since Hurt Locker??? Wow, we seriously must have watched different films and/or have differently programmed brains. Id give American Hustle a C+, certainly not a terrible film but I truly am astounded at how its gotten into the best picture conversation. It should absolutely be nominated for Makeup/Hair, Costume Design, and Jennifer Lawrence (I spent the whole thing waiting for her to come back on-screen). Other than that..HUGE structural problems and pacing that dragged for large amounts of time. I just wanted to scream “GET ON WITH IT”.

    In such a great year for cinema, why are we awarding this over so many other options? Russell has done better. I wouldnt put this anywhere near my top 20. I hope the academy can vote for more than the supposed “fun time” everyone had while watching it.

  142. American Hustle is not a good movie. That’s not hyperbole on my part I honestly walked out thinking it was a sloppy film. The script was a mess, the pacing was horrible and 3 of the 4 leads were miscast. I will be very sad if it wins when there were some wonderful films released in 2013. O. Russell tried to be Scorsese and failed, imo of course, as Judge Ana Gasteyer would say.

  143. Sasha probably thinks ‘Flight’ was a “black movie”…

  144. JamDenTel

    Ceeza,

    I saw 12 Years a Slave with a mostly black audience in a large theater. And they were one of the most engaged and responsive audiences I’ve seen in a long time. When the line “Your children will soon be forgot” dropped…I don’t know how to describe the reaction, other than one of outrage. So, “largely unmoved”…I don’t know about that.

  145. Sam, Sasha said if American Hustle wins best picture it’ll have been the best best picture winner since The Hurt Locker. She’s right, they could do worse than American Hustle.

    Ceeza, I do agree that sometimes the articles on this site focus more on the race of a filmmaker than the film itself but you should’ve worded your responses a bit differently. Nobody’s trying to censor you. Saying that Ryan is a reason why white people love slavery movies? You may be new to this site, I don’t know. But we here are Steve McQueen fans so the crackers here, myself included, aren’t blindly loving a slavery movie because it’s about, um, slavery.

  146. Daveylow

    “Actually, _American Hustle_ is a really awesome impressive lovable movie made by a filmmaker who is inspiring many young filmmakers with his eye for spontaneity and positivity. David O. Russell is not a bore. He’s experimental. ”

    This is a joke, right?

  147. Sasha – Do you think it can win BAFTA (if nominated)?

  148. I felt about American Hustle the same way I felt about Thelma & Louise….when will these people just die? They are so insufferable…

    oh, and was Bradley Cooper’s character’s mom played by a man or a really ugly older lady?

  149. chasgoose

    I can totally see this happening. The race is pretty much down to AH, 12YAS, and Gravity. Of the three AH is probably the least objectionable. It’s definitely a messy Scorsese knockoff, but its also a lot of fun (especially if you were youngish in the 1970’s and were familiar with the music on the score). It’s very easy when you are watching it to get swept up in the momentum and lose critical judgment. Yes the more you think about it the more problems you find, but given the Academy’s past choices, they typically go with the movie that leaves the best immediate impression. Also, I definitely agree with Sasha that this would be the best film to win since The Hurt Locker (although that’s not really saying much).

    Gravity has kind of a weak story, is set in space, and has maximum impact only if you see it in 3D. Despite its many accomplishments (and of the three choices here I think it’s probably the best film, even if its not the best film of the year). it’s just not the kind of movie the academy goes for. Not to mention its going to have plenty of chances to be awarded in the technical categories.

    12 Years a Slave definitely has the most weight, and if the Academy wants to go with the most “important” or “serious” movie, they will pick that. The problem is rarely does the Academy pick the “important” movie, especially one this emotionally distant and prickly. While 12 Years a Slave is a good movie, its not some monumental artistic achievement. While its unflinching look at the horrors of slavery should be commended, from a dramatic perspective it starts to feel almost artificial, like Northrup’s story was reduced to a series of increasingly horrific set pieces that exists solely for our education. The inner emotional lives of the characters (even Northrup’s) are rarely dealt with and as the film goes on the characters start to feel more like props being moved around by the actor instead of real people. This weird mix of alienating artificiality and authentic horror could end up being too offputting for the Academy. They like their social messages to come with a pat on the back at the end to make them feel good about themselves (see Crash) they don’t like having their noses rubbed in misery for 2+ hours. I don’t think 12YAS is a bad movie per se, but I think its simply too odd to win Best Picture.

  150. Hello everyone

    How many years has this blog been up? 10? 12? Goodness. Time flies!

    I’ve done predicting things a few years ago. But I sincerely hope the guilds award something different than American Hustle. I too think The Fighter and Silver Linings are hugely overrated, and AH is no different. How it beats anything this year is beyond me. I found Christian Bale’s and J-Law’s performances terrific, but they were the movie’s saving graces in my book.

    Gravity, 12 Years a Slave are the ones I hope get PGA / DGA. American Hustle, being an actor driven movie, will probably win at the SAG awards. I’ve yet to see Her, Nebraska and The Wolf of Wall Street. But these film’s directors are bonafide artists, and I have high expectations for those. They can’t POSSIBLY be as average as AH.

    If Sasha’s predictions follow through, however, this means yet another year the Best Picture oscar will not matter to me.

    Sincerely,
    Tufas

  151. Claudiu Dobre

    A few years ago somebody put forth the argument that the Academy loves to diversify when picking its Best Picture winners. This is an argument that I’ve found to be extremely useful (when relevant) ever since. Even the last 3 winners, which we all tend to group together because they were all (each in its own way) undivisive, feel-good movies, are, in fact, completely different from one-another in theme, setting and genre. Argo is a political thriller based on a true story set in the ’70s, The Artist is a silent B&W comedy about the early years of the movie industry (the “movie industry” part being the only slight resemblance it bears to Argo) and The King’s Speech is a historical drama about a British king in the ’30s. And you can go a lot further back than this: no two winners in recent memory that are only a few years apart are the same in genre, theme, setting or even, dare I say it, tone. (I guess you could make a case for The Departed and No Country for Old Men being similar, as far as the theme goes, but I would still say those are vastly different movies in pretty much every other aspect.)

    That’s why I’m having trouble seeing American Hustle win it immediately after Argo – the two are much too similarly themed (and even set around the same time in history), both being about large-scale scam operations in the 1970s. Gravity I can understand as an upset – something like that hasn’t won in ages; indeed, has it ever? I’m struggling to come up with even one movie to have ever won Best Picture that’s in any way similar… But Gravity has the same problem Hugo and Life of Pi (and others before them) had – no acting ensemble for the majority of the Academy (the actors) to get behind. Not to mention that it’s an effects-driven movie, which is also not the Academy’s cup of tea. That’s why I still think, of the three current frontrunners, 12 Years a Slave best fits the pattern. Add to that all the love it’s been getting so far this season, the fact that Lincoln, another movie about slavery, was snubbed last year and the fact that it’s actually the best of the three (by far, for me – it’s the only movie I’ve seen this year that I consider a masterpiece) and I think it’s pretty clear it should be the no.1 frontrunner right now. At least until the PGA says “**** you” to us all once more and chooses some insipid, mediocre piece of crap like Argo or American Hustle again…

    So I guess I’m being a bit too optimistic right now, but what I am saying is that there are far more convincing arguments, both statistical and logical, in favor of 12 Years a Slave than American Hustle. Of course, Sasha is probably just venting with this article (because I doubt she thinks she can actually influence the voters with it, though it would be nice if that were the case) and doesn’t really believe American Hustle is the favorite just yet.

    P.S.: I still don’t like Gravity either so, if anything (that’s likely to) wins except for 12 Years a Slave, I will inevitably be upset.

  152. Claudiu Dobre

    Oh, yeah, I forgot – Gravity has no SAG Ensemble nomination (statistically a big, big problem). So I guess it’s doing even worse than American Hustle… 12 Years a Slave should be the big frontrunner, with AH the only plausible upset, because it has the SAG nomination, but unlikely due to the reasons I’ve just given.

  153. Claudiu Dobre

    Here’s a quick precursors table I’ve compiled, based on the DGA, PGA, SAG, GG, BAFTA and Critics Choice nominations, which are basically the top predicting tools for Oscar Best Picture glory. I know AD has its own such tables, but they’re too comprehensive for my tastes (I don’t think critics matter too much, if at all):

    Legend: (!!!) Almost makes it a lock to not win
    (!!) Big problem
    (!) Minor but could be significant

    I will only discuss the 5 DGA nominees, as any movie without that nomination is 99.9% out of the race at this point. I will use the Screenplay/Editing/Director noms at the Globes, BAFTA and Critics Choice as (not excessively reliable) indicators of the potential to be nominated for the same categories at the Oscars.
    Was The Wolf of Wall Street not eligible for the SAG? If so, it would rise a bit in the estimate, to maybe 3rd, but not too much, really, since it has plenty of other problems anyway.

    CONTENDER PROBLEMS

    1. 12 Years a Slave – has hit everything
    2. American Hustle (!) No BAFTA Editing nomination (Oscar nom not very likely either, since the movie is a mess)
    3. Gravity (!!!) No SAG Ensemble nomination (!) No GG/Critics Choice Screenplay nominations
    4. Captain Phillips (!!!) No SAG Ensemble nomination (!) No GG Screenplay nomination (!) Highly unlikely to make the top 3 in nominations
    5. The Wolf of Wall Street (!!!) No SAG Ensemble nomination (!!) No SAG acting nominations (!!) No BAFTA BP nomination (!) No GG Screenplay nomination (!) NO GG Director nomination

    So, basically, it’s 12 Years a Slave or maybe American Hustle, with the former ahead at this point.

  154. Claudiu Dobre

    And Gravity is the only plausible big (given the stats) upset at this point.

  155. Buford T Justioce

    CLAUDIO ….thank you for your very insightful and informative comments ….folks like you make these columns worth reading

    You’ve made a good reasoned argument for 12 YAS , unfortunately , many voters do not think or reason that way

  156. ubourgeois

    I dunno where you’re getting the idea that American Hustle is universally loved but 12 Years a Slave has detractors, backlash, people afraid of it, etc… This isn’t some King’s Speech/The Social Network situation. Or even an Argo consensus-y situation. AH is popular and making a pretty penny, but it definitely has its share of detractors and a great number of people like it but don’t take it seriously. 12 Years a Slave, on the other hand, is well-known even by non-film buffs (until very recently I feel like more people recognized its name than AH’s) and is receiving near-unanimous praise. Where is this detractor base you keep mentioning? You can only play the “Academy-is-afraid-of-hard-cinema” card so much.

  157. ubourgeois

    Also, forgot to mention: American Hustle better than every BP winner since Hurt Locker? Please. I know that trio’s become hip to hate, but we’re on completely different pages. The King’s Speech, The Artist, and Argo were all on my Top 10s of their respective years (though, admittedly, never the #1), while American Hustle is sitting just outside of 20.

  158. Claudiu Dobre

    Thanks for the kind words, Buford!
    I think it’s pretty clear after the mind**** that was last year’s Oscar race that we can’t really ever know how the voters think, so I would say the stats are the best tool we have anyway. :)
    They even managed to hold up last year, despite the insane Best Director snub (because Argo won practically everything else and nothing else won anything of consequence, so it was still the favorite on Oscar night, even from a statistical point of view) and they will likely hold up this year as well. But we’ll see – who knows what surprises the Academy has in store for us this time around…

  159. Claudiu Dobre

    Oh and, regarding the “AH better than the last 3 winners thing”… I’d put it somewhere in 2nd or 3rd, behind The King’s Speech – which, despite the fact that it beat the far superior (for me) Inception and the far superior (for everybody else) The Social Network, is still pretty good and far more coherent than AH -, in front of Argo and either slightly ahead or slightly behind The Artist.

  160. Pierre de Plume

    I will be surprised – albeit pleasantly so – if 12 Years a Slave wins the best picture Oscar. American Hustle is a better bet at this point.

  161. Jerry Grant

    ““Actually, _American Hustle_ is a really awesome impressive lovable movie made by a filmmaker who is inspiring many young filmmakers with his eye for spontaneity and positivity. David O. Russell is not a bore. He’s experimental. ”

    This is a joke, right?”

    No, not a joke Daveylow. The tendency (yours and that of many on this forum) to be stupified by Russell’s success is clearly indicative of the fact that you don’t recognize that this is how and why people are enthused by his movies.

  162. violet hour

    AH bored me out of my mind for the most part
    i never got into it , there were some sequences that were good but there were equally parts were i was watching my watch wondering when this would be over !

    the acting wasnt bad but the movie went on for too long , i truly liked jeremy renner in this , amy adams and christian bale were very good and jlaw was self involved

    i didnt care for them or what happened to them except jeremy renner character the only one who felt genuine !

    by the way still haven’t been able to see 12YAS

    gravity also ok movie but by no mean a WOW film, i haven’t thought about it since i saw it
    same for the butler!

    at this point last year
    1/ i was gushing like crazy over ARGO and LES MISERABLES as my two favs to win everything
    2/i was annoyed and frustrated by comments and AD post droning on about other films being better bla bla bla about lincoln , gosh i don’t even feel like i have a lincoln to root against

    all that said i have not seen WoWS / HER / NEBRASKA / 12YAS / INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS / ALL IS LOST

    so i might yet change my tune

    what i have seen is AH / RUSH / THE BUTLER / GRAVITY / SAVING MR BANKS

    PS: love love SMB what a sweet movie i’m just not sure its a horse that has a realistic chance in the race but im sure it will get noms

  163. Okay. So we’ve reached the stage where people have chosen their favorites and are now going to start throwing shit at every other film, or the main threats, just to prop up their choice. *writes the date down*

  164. Remember, “It’s not over till the fat black lady in the disco suit sings…”
    Don’t Laugh. Sasha, has a valid viewpoint. The “Best Picture” award is often a snapshot of current society. Given recent winners, “Argo”, “The Artist” and “The King’s Speech”, the “light-hearted, feel-good” movies are in the groove. Mix in an A-list director, 2 recent Academy Award winners (Lawrence, Bale), 4x nominee (Adams), the male breakout out star of last year (Cooper), some bad really wigs, accents and great music soundtrack…and the Academy should fell like dancing! It may be more than Sarah Paulson throwing a wine bottle at a slave….Oprah? Uma?

  165. Joe Clinton

    Sasha, why is “12 Years a Slave” still listed as your Best Picture pick at Gold Derby? I think “Hustle” is a ballsy prediction. I like it.

  166. BufordT Justice

    It is indeed a ”ballsy ”prediction that will discredit her or make her the oscar version of the ”Oracle of Delphi ”…as a fervent supporter of 12 YAS she cannot be accused of allowing her love of A H to cloud and impair her judgement , that’s for sure ; I personally , am a ”true believer ” of 12 YAS and have only came to even thinking about its defeat with the greatest reluctance , however , it seems to me that they have taken a bite of it repeatedly and found it unpalatable ; then then tried GRAVITY as a substitute and found it unsatisfing ; they next went to A H and while recognising that it was far from a masterpiece , it was at least DIGESTABLE ….a movie that could very well win by default as the least objectionable

    This indeed is a bitter pill to swallow , but after being tipped of by Sasha to it’s possibilty , the more I think about it , the more likely it seems to become …I wish it wasn’t so ,I REALLY WISH IT WASN’T SO, but I’m increasingly and reluctantly coming to the conclusion that it may well be …there is a small but shrill and persistant alarm bell ringing that intuitively says ”A H wins Best Picture ”

  167. Oh, then, go ahead and give it to American Hustle. They gave it to Argo. Why not further diminish the Academy Awards? Then I can stop going to this website in January.

  168. Miles Ridding

    I really do hope that Oprah Winfrey and The Butler are not nominated. They just aren’t deserving and most critic’s groups agree. An oscar for Oprah will prove that the awards are just a popularity contest and nothing else.

  169. John C.

    I think Sasha is just writing this as a sort of defense mechanism because she fears her favorite 12YAS will go down. She did the same when her babies THe Social Network and Lincoln seemed to be in trouble too. However in actuality here, there’s very little basis for one this year. 12YAS is BY FAR the favorite across all the prognosticators.

  170. Profile photo of Ryan Adams

    She did the same when her babies The Social Network and Lincoln seemed to be in trouble too.

    When Sasha sees the game tilt, Sasha understands what the tilt means. Sasha saw the tilt toward The King’s Speech and didn’t hesitate to report honestly what she was seeing. The same thing happened last year when the game tilted toward Argo. Sasha saw what was happening and didn’t cling to false hope.

    2 years in a row, Sasha was right. Yes, she saw her personal favorites in trouble. Yes, she faced reality.

    So if you’re comparing this year to the past 2 years, you’d better be careful dismissing this shift as a mere “defense mechanism.”

    I hope Sasha is wrong this year. Maybe Sasha hopes she’s wrong too.

    But it did me very little good to hope Sasha was wrong in 2011 and 2012. I stubbornly stuck with my favorites and I was crushed on Oscar night.

    How about you wait and see what happens before you accuse people of irrational fear for their “babies.”

  171. ebrown2112

    KT: When did the voters get over Meryl Streep? She’s won three Oscars, and her third was only two years ago.

  172. Claudiu Dobre

    Oh, let’s face it! Gravity and AH are the worst and second-worst of the likely Best Picture nominees and yet it’s obvious everybody in the industry loves them, giving them noms and wins left and right. So, if I know the Academy at all, it’ll be one of these two that wins.
    Thankfully, at least Gravity can’t sweep the guilds, so it’ll probably be AH! I can live with that one winning BP, I guess, but Gravity would just be atrocious in the extreme… It’d be almost as bad as if Avatar had won – I would start to seriously consider suicide. :)
    So yeah, I guess Sasha’s probably right – why kid ourselves? The best film never wins anymore. Why should it this year?

  173. BufordT Justice

    It may well turn out that Sasha is just a nervous nellie in a panic attack , but not being able to recognise the writing on the wall can lead to disaster ; it is indeed noble , but foolish to be a true believer and go down with the ship ..on the other hand , it is unforgivable to be a leader and then jump ship at the first broadside ; you gotta be sure
    I’ve bet a large ammount of money on 12 YAS because I think it is BY FAR the most deserving of BP Oscar and I’ve had faith in the collective common sense and high mindedness of the Academy voters ; however , small seeds of doubt are now growing that my faith was undeserved , or even foolish , and that , HORRIFINGLY, I may well of wasted all my money …yes , the very thought of defeat is approaching in a sinister twilight made much worse considering that only a few days ago I was basking in my glorious thoughts of the sweet victory of taking the bookies to the cleaners , buying myself a new car and an a vacation to the Greek Isles ; such are the best laid plans of mice and men …indeed , in moments of sober reflection , it has dawned upon me that I must frantically bet on American Hustle to avoid financial disaster and considering that A H is still an outsider at 6/1 I am very fortunate indeed to be able to do just that ….we simply do not usually get second chances and the ability to jump ship and survive

    It is beginning to look , in the words of Oscar Wilde , that the ”play was a success , but the audience merely a failure ” !

  174. BufordT Justice

    The B P race is between 12 YAS GRAVITY and AMERICAN HUSTLE
    No other movie can win ….Gravity , I suspect will not win due to it’s sci fi subject matter and the fact it is ”movies for the masses ” …they should and do have better tastes in movies than that

    In that arc of continuity of Slumdog , Artist , Kings Speech , Argo then GRAVITY it just doesn’t fit in ; 12 YAS does , unfortunatly A H does too

    It’s undeniable to everyone that 12 YAS is the most important movie , but unfortuneatly many folks do not put too much value on importance , but merely want to be entertained , titilated by sex and have a good laugh …..simply a sign of the times ,methinks

  175. Claudiu Dobre

    “I’ve had faith in the collective common sense and high mindedness of the Academy voters”

    But WHY?! :) Why would you ever…

    I definitely think you should defend and bet on AH – maybe even Gravity as well, because you never know… I’m quite serious! The ONLY time to be any kind of sure of who will win is AFTER the 3 major guilds (PGA, SAG, DGA) have announced their winner(s). I would never make any kind of bet earlier than that.
    I usually just wait until the day before the Oscars, to be honest, so that I have all the data and I also have time to cool off and be as objective as possible. You should NEVER be subjective in any way when betting, and this is ESPECIALLY true of the Oscars – quality has got nothing (or very little) to do with it, sadly… I suspect even when something actually good wins (which does happen from time to time, even in our days), it’s rarely because it was good, but for other reasons altogether. There are such peripheral reasons in 12 Years a Slave’s case, but it’s not yet clear whether they’re actually reasons to win or reasons to lose. :)

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