American Hustle was screened for elite journos last night and again this morning, and the rumble so far is that Jennifer Lawrence might be a Best Supporting Actress lock, and that Amy Adams is….well, some say she’s terrific and others not so much. One viewer told me that Christian Bale pretty much owns the movie. The ABSCAM-related plot involves a lot of lying and grifting and film-flammery, and is fairly entertaining. A friend of one of my sources was laughing in the beginning but then he stopped. The source also claims that the room felt a bit flat and cold when the lights came up.

“What’s the personal or emotional through-line?” I asked this person. “What’s this film about in 25 words or less?” He/she couldn’t say. “So it’s not Best Picture material?”, I said. “Nope…it might get nominated but no way will anyone mark it down as a #1 choice,” the friend replied. “But it’s got some great performances…the actors’ branch loves this stuff…and the music is great. It’s entertaining.” This person added, “You might really like it because you liked The Counselor.” To which I said “what?” He/she also described it as “a higher quality Ocean’s 11 type film.”

Hitfix‘s Kris Tapley says that American Hustle “frankly seems a bit undercut by its position in the awards season. It’s certainly entertaining in spurts, but it might have been better served as a fun caper film released in the spring instead of bringing with it the rally cry of ‘Oscar contender.’ Admittedly, Russell’s track record as of late sort of sets it up for that anyway. Sony made the right move getting The Monuments Men out of that ether. I wonder if it wouldn’t have been a wise decision here, too.”

“It will be fascinating to see how this raucous, free-wheeling, careening comedy fares with critics and Oscar voters ,” wrote Indiewire‘s Anne Thompson. “It’s so audaciously entertaining that audiences should flock to it. Commercial, unpredictable and sexy, the movie should exceed Silver Linings‘ $227-million worldwide gross [so] who cares about awards? Already Twitter is lighting up with talk of scene-stealer Jennifer Lawrence for supporting actress. That nomination will likely happen.

“If American Hustle isn’t an awards home run on the order of Silver Linings, it’s certainly a triple, and the industry needs more risky, daring, fun, excessive tight-rope walks like this one.”

So either Martin Scorsese‘s Wolf of Wall Street brings it big-time and overturns the apple cart and re-orders the situation, or it’s back to the old Gravity (the favorite of the lowest-common-denominator softies) vs. 12 Years A Slave situation. Please, bring it, Marty…please. I need the juice. I need the juice so badly at this stage. Please don’t stick me with a Gravity vs. 12 years A Slave stand-off for the next three months. Please. I won’t be able to stand that.