Will ‘American Hustle’ score second acting sweep at Oscars for helmer David O. Russell?

Last year, “Silver Linings Playbook” became the first film since “Reds” (1981) to earn nominations in all four of Oscar’s acting categories, and just the 14th in Oscar history. As impressive an achievement as that was, David O. Russell could pull it off for an unprecedented second year in a row: his “American Hustle” also has a chance at reaping acting bids across the board.

At the SAG nominations, Jennifer Lawrence was “Hustle’s” only individual acting contender, but the film rallied at the Golden Globes, where she was cited as were Bradley Cooper for Best Supporting Actor while Christian Bale and Amy Adams received bids in the lead comedy/musical categories.

While those separate lead-acting honors for musicals and comedies could have helped Bale and Adams break through with the HFPA, both showed up again — along with Cooper and Lawrence — in the Critics’ Choice nominations, which could mean there’s widespread support for them after all. Bale earned surprise nominations for Best Actor and Best Comedy Actor, while Adams picked up a nod for Best Comedy Actress.

But Bale and Adams still have reasons to worry at the Oscars despite their recent success: there are six nominees in the Best Actor race at Critics’ Choice, so the Oscars might just cut Bale from the lineup when they narrow it down to five. And, despite her Comedy Actress bid, Adams missed the top six for Best Actress, which instead included the five expected names — Cate Blanchett (“Blue Jasmine“), Sandra Bullock (“Gravity“), Judi Dench (“Philomena“), Meryl Streep (“August: Osage County“), and Emma Thompson (“Saving Mr. Banks“) — plus major awards underdog Brie Larson (“Short Term 12“).

Even Cooper isn’t a lock in his category, thanks to that diss from his SAG peers. At this point, I think only Lawrence is a sure thing for an Oscar nod.

However, there are two words we should remember if we’re tempted to write off the possibility of another sweep: Jacki Weaver. Last year, she was the odd woman out for most of the awards season for her supporting turn in “Silver Linings,” earning only two individual notices — a win from the Australian Film Institute and a nod from the Chlotrudis Awards — before coming out of nowhere to earn a nomination at the Oscars.

That sweep elevated Russell to the company of directors like William Wyler (“Mrs. Miniver”), Billy Wilder (“Sunset Boulevard”), and Sidney Lumet (“Network”), whose films also received nods in all acting races. However, if he does it again — two years runnning no less — he would be in a class by himself.

Since the supporting categories were introduced for the film year of 1936, the other films to have pulled off this quadruple play are: “My Man Godfrey,” “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” “Johnny Belinda,” “A Streetcar Named Desire,” “From Here to Eternity,” “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?,” “Bonnie and Clyde,” “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” and “Coming Home.”

The “American Hustle” foursome are popular with the academy, and popular in Russell’s movies in particular. Adams, Bale, Cooper, and Lawrence have reaped eight Oscar bids between them, and all have been recognized for Russell’s films. Adams and Bale were supporting contenders for “The Fighter,” with Bale winning. Cooper and Lawrence earned bids last year for “Silver Linings,” and Lawrence won.

“American Hustle” has been gaining ground in the Oscar race in recent weeks, and the academy tends to like Russell’s films even more than we expect — the seven nominations for “The Fighter” exceeded its performance at the Golden Globes, SAG Awards, BAFTAs, and Critics’ Choice, while the directing and editing bids for “Silver Linings” came as a surprise. And of course there was Weaver.

Will Russell make history with a second acting sweep? Predict Oscar’s acting races starting with Best Actor below:

3 thoughts on “Will ‘American Hustle’ score second acting sweep at Oscars for helmer David O. Russell?

  1. Daniel, you’ve forgotten the most important factor – Weinstein, who campaigned last year for Silver Linings Playbook. This year, American Hustle is Sony’s. Not so formidable.
    We’re so used to A versus B in the Oscar race, but let’s try studio versus studio; that’s the real Oscar race in this industry.

  2. Cynthia Swartz is behind AH’s campaign, Andrew, and her track record as an Oscar campaigner is just as good as Weinstein’s. Furthermore, while it’s true that not many movies have secured acting nominations in all four categories, plenty have gotten four acting noms, just not all in different categories. DOUBT, for example, was a fairly recent movie that garnered four acting nods. I don’t think voters think so much in terms of whether each category is different as how many people they’re going to nominate in total. And why should Bale’s or Adam’s GG or Critics Choice noms be a surprise? Just because they missed SAG? SAG only matched 12 out of 20 acting noms with the Oscars last year, so why is it still being taken as a bellwether of anything?

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