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Tuesday, February 4, 2014
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Will American Hustle Go 0-10 on Oscar Night?


By Terence Johnson
Managing Editor

When the Academy Award nominations were announced last month, American Hustle was one of the darlings of the town. It tied Gravity with 10 nominations to lead the field and managed surprise nominations for Christian Bale in Lead Actor. However, the tide has steadily been turning against the film, despite the SAG win, and as the stock of other films are rising, American Hustle seems to be losing steam. So much steam in fact that many seem to be predicting it to go 0-10 at the Oscars in March. This would be a historic fall from grace, as far as the Academy is concerned, so I though I’d dig into the history of the Oscars biggest losers and see what could be gleaned.

The Turning Point and The Color Purple: 0-11
The two films that share this unfortunate record of gaining 11 nominations and no wins are The Turning Point and The Color Purple. Both films were headlined by actresses, had plentiful tech nominations and were in hyper competitive years. Where these movies differ from American Hustle is that The Color Purple was a somewhat controversial film at the time and that an Academy favorite director didn’t direct The Turning Point. The most controversial thing about American Hustle might be how wasted Amy Adams feels in the 2nd half of the film and they’ve nominated David O. Russell 3 times in director and twice for Screenplay.

Gangs of New York and True Grit (2011 version): 0-10
American Hustle shares more than just a nomination tally with these films. Both Gangs of New York and True Grit are big period pieces, with major directors at the helm, led by a popular star and Oscar favorite lead actor, with a sensational turn from a young actress who threatens to steal the movie. Unlike those two films, American Hustle isn’t a sweeping epic that disappointed. The movie is very confined to a set amount of characters and a certain place. Plus, American Hustle is a fun film with a happy (?) ending.

Peyton Place and The Little Foxes: 0-9
Again it seems as though the films dominated by female performances tend to be the ones overlook in a big way by the Academy. However like American Hustle, both of these films were up against huge threats (Citizen Kane, How Green Was My Valley and Suspicion for The Little Foxes and The Bridge on the River Kwai and 12 Angry Men in the way of Peyton Place). I think it’s worth noting that each of these films had 2 or more classics in the way, something American Hustle might have to deal with in Gravity and 12 Years a Slave.

Now, onto American Hustle’s chances. There is a strong possibility that the film will go home empty handed due to the fact that there are big contenders in it’s way for every category. Of it’s nominations, only Original Screenplay, Supporting Actress and Costumes seem to be within striking distance. However, Her has history on its side in the screenplay race, Lupita Nyong’o has become the darling of Hollywood and is in a film many are predicting in Best Picture, and Catherine Martin is nominated for her work in The Great Gatsby. Those are some big hurdles this movie has to jump.

But, it seems strange American Hustle won’t win anything. The one thing that gives me pause in predicting a shut out is that no film has ever lost all of the Big 7 categories (Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress and Screenplay) in one night and it’s hard to envision the Academy bucking that tradition, although it’s not out of the realm of possibility.

Do you think American Hustle will go 0-10 come Oscar night?

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