Going into the weekend, only two perceived Oscar frontrunners had yet to be unveiled: The Wolf of Wall Street and American Hustle. That number is now down to one, as the latter was publicly screened for the first time on Sunday night. Some journalists attended these screenings and, while they’re under embargo for the next week, a few offered brief assessments of the film. The Wrap’s Steve Pond explained that David O. Russell’s latest is “odder and more ambitious” than his last film (Silver Linings Playbook), making it a less reliable bet for Oscar nominations. However, Deadline’s Pete Hammond and Movie City News’ David Poland both suggest that the film is likely to earn nominations in several major categories, including Best Picture.
American Hustle has an impressive ensemble, including Amy Adams, Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, and Jeremy Renner. Initial reactions suggest that Lawrence is the standout, instantly putting her back in the middle of the awards race she dominated last year. “If there was any kind of unanimous verdict, it was that Jennifer Lawrence steals the show,” wrote Pond. Hammond was even more effusive, describing this as a “dazzling” performance full of scene-stealing moments: “If she hadn’t already won last year as Best Actress for Silver Linings Playbook, there is no doubt she might be unbeatable here.”
Originally described as a relatively minor supporting character, Lawrence’s role seems to have expanded during production. Whether she ultimately campaigns for Best Actress or Best Supporting Actress, an Oscar nomination would be her third in four years. Meryl Streep achieved the same feat early in her career, but her streak didn’t end there. By the time her luck started to slow down, she had earned nine nominations in 13 years. Lawrence still has a long way to go to get anywhere near Streep’s record 17 nominations, but she’s off to an impressive start.