The Surprising Politics of “American Hustle”

There is an old, possibly apocryphal story about a senator who stormed into the White House during the Coolidge Administration to complain that a man under consideration for being nominated to the Senate was “an SOB.” “That could be,” Coolidge reportedly conceded, “but there are a lot of those in the country, and I think…

Did Obama Rig the Oscars?

Conspiracy theorists, start your engines. When early front-runner Zero Dark Thirty won but one Oscar on Sunday night, it marked quite a fall from grace. For most of awards season, it was the prohibitive favorite for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, and most of the technical awards. Of course, we all know what happened.…

2012: The Love/Hate List

In 1988’s Bull Durham, Crash Davis (Kevin Costner) famously said that “fastballs are boring, and besides that, they’re fascist.” Well, that’s how I feel about Top Ten Movies of 2012 lists. It is that time of year in when critics of every stripe release their own personal Best Of lists. Not me. It is presumptive…

Mental Illness as Plot Device in “Silver Linings”

For many years, director David O. Russell was known for his eccentricity. His films were odd, idiosyncratic comedies such as Flirting with Disaster and I Heart Huckabees, which garnered cult followings but no mainstream success. Then there was the leaked video of Russell throwing a vicious tantrum on the set of Huckabees. Although Lily Tomlin,…