A last-minute entry, this David O. Russell black comedy was like no other, and it blew everyone away. It was nominated for seven Golden Globes and won three, including Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress and, of course, Best Comedy or Musical. It also won the New York Critics award as Best Picture of the Year, and it received ten Oscar nominations, although it left empty-handed. It was enormously popular with the public and ended up grossing $250 million on a $40 million budget. It was Russell’s second blockbuster in a row following his equally acclaimed Silver Linings Playbook.
The unusual plot was inspired by the FBI ABSCAM operation of the late 1970s and early 1980s. Christian Bale and Amy Adams played two con artists who were forced by an FBI agent (played by Bradley Cooper) to set up an elaborate sting operation on corrupt politicians, including the mayor of Camden, New Jersey (played by Jeremy Renner). Jennifer Lawrence played the unpredictable wife of Bale's character and won the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress following which, she became the highest paid actress in Hollywood.
Amy Adams also won the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical. The original script, before Russell got his hands on it, was a serious crime-busting movie. Russell made all the principals caricatures of their real selves and got away with it by introducing the film with “Some of this actually happened.” The Academy’s choice for Best Picture was 12 Years a Slave, which was also the HFPA’s choice of Best Drama that year.
2013 was an amazing year for comedy, if not the best ever. The nominees besides American Hustle were Alexander Payne’s Nebraska, the Coen Bros.’ Inside Llewyn Davis, Spike Jonze’s Her, and Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street. Besides Amy Adams, the Golden Globe nominees for Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy were Meryl Streep in August, Osage County, Julie Delpy in Before Midnight, Julia Louis-Dreyfus in Enough Said, and Greta Gerwig in Frances Ha.
Leonardo DiCaprio won the Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy Golden Globe for The Wolf of Wall Street. His competition: Christian Bale in American Hustle, Bruce Dern in Nebraska, Oscar Isaac in Inside Llewyn Davis, and Joaquin Phoenix in Her. Jennifer Lawrence’s competition was June Squibb in Nebraska, Julia Roberts in August, Osage County, Sally Hawkins in Blue Jasmine, and Lupita Nyongo in 12 Years a Slave.