Jennifer Lawrence steals ‘American Hustle’ – Is Oscar #2 next?

In a movie full of con artists,  Jennifer Lawrence steals “American Hustle” as a dimwit floozy married to a low-class shyster. She could easily pull off an Oscars heist next and do what no other star has ever done: win in a supporting race one year after prevailing in lead.

That may seem unlikely if viewed as a demotion for today’s hottest screen diva (thank you, “Hunger Games”), but Ingrid Bergman and Gene Hackman both took the step down after reigning in lead. However, there were many years in between their multiple wins.

Oscar nominations are also possible for Amy Adams and Christian Bale in lead and Bradley Cooper in supporting – all of them shine in colorful roles rich with psycho-comic complexity. Adams has the best shot at winning. This year, the lead actress race is overstuffed with older past champs and voters usually lust after babes, of course, especially ones who are overdue. Adams is Oscarless after four past losses.

American Hustle” will also be nominated for Best Picture, Director, Original Screenplay and lots of crafts. It could bag hair and makeup, but the big nagging question is: Can it win Best Picture? Yes, if it picks up kudos momentum at the critics’ awards.

Up till now, it looked like “12 Years a Slave” had those trophies from New York and Los Angeles in the bag, but now “Hustle” offers the journos a fun quirky alternative that has art-house cred thanks to Russell’s sainted status among cineastes.

Beware: “The Wolf of Wall Street” will pounce on the derby very soon. Screenings start around Dec. 1. At that point will have a better idea of the top Oscar races and we can firm up our predictions, but for now it is safe to say that “American Hustle” lives up to early expectations and it poses a serious threat ahead.

Make your Oscar predictions for Best Picture below. Change them later as often as you like.

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