Early reviews of Hustlers are in, and one thing is very clear: Jennifer Lopez steals the show. In fact, she’s apparently so good, that she’s already drumming up Oscar buzz.
Lorene Scafaria’s film, which had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 7, is adapted from Jessica Pressler’s “The Hustlers at Scores” story published in New York magazine, about a crew of strippers who scammed their Wall Street clients out of thousands of dollars. Lopez plays Ramona, the ringleader of colleagues played by Constance Wu, Keke Palmer, Lili Reinhart, Lizzo, and Cardi B, who makes her feature film debut in Hustlers.
Reviews from TIFF, like the assessment written up in The Hollywood Reporter, praised Lopez for her ability to portray nuance in a blockbuster: “But not enough can be written about how stunning Lopez is in perhaps her best performance to date. Playing Ramona with understated confidence, the actress creates a tough cookie who keeps things light; she doesn’t question the rules of the game — she has studied them so she can break them properly. Far from an audacious, real housewife type, she represents a group of hardworking single mothers across America quietly struggling to provide for their children.”
Variety applauds the actress for “leveraging every iota of her appeal to astonishing effect” and IndieWire attributes the film’s success as “funny, empowering, sexy, emotional, and a bit scary” to Lopez’s performance, and notes that she “owns” the film.
Even co-star Julia Stiles praised Lopez for her performance when she spoke to W earlier this year. “Jennifer Lopez looks amazing, and I think she’s really going to be stunning in this movie,” Stiles revealed. “Doing scenes with her, it was hard to not have my jaw on the floor because she does so many different things that you forget she’s also a serious actress. She totally transformed for this part. It wasn’t just the makeup and the nails and the hair and the jewelry.”
Only four Latina actresses have been nominated at the Oscars for the Best Actress award, and none have won. And it’s important, as the THR review notes, to remember that of the 1,200 top-grossing box office films between 2007 and 2018, two lead roles were given to a Latina actress over the age of 45. Lopez played both of those roles. Her star turn in Hustlers is not the first time Lopez has led a film with her critically acclaimed performance (she was praised early on for portraying Selena Quintanilla in the biopic Selena, years before she became a staple in crowd-pleasing rom-coms like The Wedding Planner or Maid in Manhattan) and it’s about time she be recognized as the triple threat she really is. Lopez has consistently proved she has not only the star power and cachet that the Academy would like to reward with a nomination, but the talent to match, so the odds of her actually getting nominated for an Oscar this year might actually be quite high.