Golden Globes 2014: Why American Hustle is one of the best films EVER made
Last nights Golden Globes saw ‘American Hustle’ storm ahead of other contenders as it obtained 3 awards. Forecasters predicted ‘12 Years a Slave‘ would beat ‘American Hustle’ but this wasn’t the case. In my opinion, ‘American Hustle’ rightly deserved those 3 awards and more. Arguably, ‘American Hustle’ was snubbed for best actor in a motion picture comedy and best screenplay and arguably best director. Aside from the awards, ‘American Hustle’ deserves recognition for being one of the best films ever crafted. From its intelligent script to its superb acting, ‘American Hustle’ has all the qualities of a great film.
The main triumph of ‘American Hustle’ is creating real characters, characters to whom we can engage with. All the characters feel the need/want to grow as human beings they crave ambition and success as we all do, the only thing distinguishing them from one another is they way the go about hunting down success, be it through corruption, illegal activities or hard work. I as a viewer could relate to every character in one aspect or another, you empathize with their role and purpose and because of this you promote the villain or the ‘anti-hero’. In this case, we are duped in to cheer on Bale’s actor who is a crook but we find his character so charming that we embrace him as the hero and not the FBI agent. Bradley Cooper is essentially us, depraved of fame and glory and is incredibly opportunistic as he sees he one chance of elevating himself to some higher purpose. The female characters underpin the greatness of this film. David O’Russell shows how these two women have similar motives, to be loved, but are completely the opposite. Lawrence plays this feisty, bitter woman who is incredibly entertaining to watch but at the same time the subtle message behind this character is that she is isolated and lost. She doesn’t really have a husband and is subjected to being a normal housewife and all the characters in this film certainly do not want ‘normal’. This is the case for Amy Adams’ character who finds thrill and excitement with her time with Bale’s character, this shows the stark contrast to Lawrence’s character who wants this, but cannot have it. Renner’s character epitomizes the viewer, someone who looks for a short-cut to success and glory. The characters in ‘American Hustle’ are the best thing about it, they are ‘real’ people, they are like us. Very few times has a film depicted real life characters that the viewer can engage with and feel an emotional connection with. ‘American Hustle’ does this, and the lengthy character development allows you to enter the world that the characters create and therefore this is why it is one of the best films ever made, it is incredibly immersive.
The film has come under criticism for its ‘convoluted plot’ that takes too many ‘twists and turns’ and that focuses on the characters too much. Despite these being seen as negatives, I see them as positives. The intricate, intelligent plot is simple but the twists in it is what makes it exciting to watch. This film is one of the least predictable films I have ever seen. Perhaps a reason for this was that I was so engaged with the mannerisms of the characters on screen that I didn’t engage in every single plot point. This is not a bad thing, because if a movie can take me out of my world and include me in their realm then that is a sign of a good film. The film’s applause is not solely for the plot, but it’s more how the characters deal with the situation they are in. Our engagement with the characters develops into a fascination with the plot and therefore character development takes precedence. The simplicity of the plot, yet the elaborate character development is what makes the film truly outstanding.
‘American Hustle’ was shoehorned into the ‘Best Motion Picture/Comedy” category at the Golden Globes. I say shoehorned loosely as the film is funny, but this is not its sole purpose. The aim of the film is not to be funny, that comes with the intelligent script and direction Russell takes. Therefore the Golden Globe categorization of this film has misunderstood the concept of the film and degrades it to a certain extent. The film is primarily a drama, the fact that it is funny is due to the performances and Russell’s wit. I feel the film had a better chance of receiving awards in this category, but to brand it as a comedy is demeaning. What makes the film so great is its ability to be dramatic but funny at the same time, not many films have done this. ‘The Wolf of Wall Street‘ leaned more towards the comedy which may have caused a lack of dramatic character development. ‘American Hustle’ find the perfect blend of drama and comedy and David O’Russell’s screenplay and directorial skills are the main contributing factors to this.
All things considered, ‘American Hustle’ remains to be one of the finest films I have seen in many years. Its simplicity yet complex characters mesh to provide an entertaining two and a half hours full of twists and turns.