Two films bring out the greed this season. Both American Hustle and The Wolf of Wall Street swindle the average man out of his hard earned dollars. Gordon Gekko of 1987’s Wall Street would have been proud —but who delivers the best con?
Award for Best Return of an Era: Hustle revels in ’70s sex appeal while Wolf glorifies in ’80s excess. The art design sets the stage (love that ’70s microwave), but the costuming drives it home. Hustle outshines Wolf with phenomenal clothing at every turn. Oh, how I wish I could have been Amy Adams on set for just one day.
Award for Best Toupee: Watching Christian Bale’s Irving Rosenfeld meticulously place his toupee during the opening credits of Hustle is a mesmerizing experience. ‘Rugrat’ from Wolf hardly stands a chance.
Award for Best FBI Agent: If you are looking for power hungry incompetence with a stylish perm, Bradley Cooper’s Richie DiMaso is your man in Hustle, but Kyle Chandler’s Patrick Denham shows dignity with honor in Wolf, able to resist the most substantial of bribes. While Cooper’s role is meatier overall, Chandler takes the win as he rides off contemplative on the subway.
Award for Best Side Kick: I still feel blinded by Jonah Hill’s neon white teeth in Wolf. While his caricature-like inanity as the drug laden Donnie Azoff does entertain, I would hand the prize to Amy Adams in Hustle. Seamlessly flipping between accents and persona, her Sydney Prosser has the depth and range to con the cheese from a mouse.
Award for Best Romance: Leonardo DiCaprio’s Jordan Belfort may have the financial means to woo his women, but Irving juggles sincere emotion, if not frustration, in his relationships with both his lover and his wife. Love in a dry cleaning shop is much ‘hotter’ than Jordan’s best 11 seconds.
Award for Best Con Artist: His motivational speaking may ooze charm (and humor), but Jordan’s charisma is his ultimate undoing. Always wanting more, he drowns in the immorality of his actions, unable to walk away when given the chance. Irving, however, knows when to pull tight on the reigns. His survival instincts deliver improbable solutions at exactly the right moments.
Award for Best Con: Wolf tells the true story of the rise and fall of stockbroker Jordan Belfort and his firm Stratton Oakmont. His cons focus on the sale of questionable stock while the story embellishes Jordan’s filthy rich success. Hustle follows a similar up and down course with Irving’s London Associates but delivers a more intricate plot with twists and turns that make it hard to know who is conning who. The latter story is more engaging with a flow that captivates the audience from the first scene. An easy win for Hustle.
American Hustle: 4 stethoscopes
The Wolf of Wall Street: 3 stethoscopes
( Dr. Tanya Feke is a family physician and guest columnist for the Record-Journal weeklies. She has been press credentialed to the LA Film Festival and continues to pursue a love of film. Her reviews are rated on a five stethoscope scale. Follow her blog (www.tanyafeke.com), Facebook page (Diagnosis Life), or twitter (@tanyafeke).