Hustlers First Reviews: Jennifer Lopez Is Oscar-Worthy in the Surprise Hit of the Toronto International Film Fest

Critics are calling Hustlers a thrilling, smart, and empowering crowdpleaser that plays like "Scorsese in stilettos."

by | September 8, 2019 | Comments

It’s been a while since Jennifer Lopez has generated Oscar buzz, so the kind of praise we’re seeing for the actress out of the Toronto International Film Festival may surprising at first. But her performance in Hustlers (2019) 87% is the talk of the town following its premiere Saturday night. Fortunately, the movie itself is getting positive reviews overall, too. The first batch of reviews from the festival note that this crime drama, adapted from a New York magazine article about a group of NYC strippers with a more-than-entrepreneurial streak, is not what it looks like based on the advertising. Hustlers is a classic underdog story and an award season crowdpleaser through and through. Its inspirations are far more Scorsese than Showgirls.

Here’s what critics are saying about Hustlers:

Wow, so the movie is better than expected?

“Everything you’ve seen so far is what is known as a ‘cheat’ in the marketing business…[this] is much deeper than all that glitters on the surface.” – Gregory Ellwood, The Playlist

Hustlers is a lot smarter than it initially looks.” – Stephen Whitty, Screen International

Hustlers is never anything less than energetic, freight-train-fast, and impeccably plotted…it’s also a welcome twist on the crime thriller genre and the ripped-from-the-headlines, can-you-believe-this-is real drama.” – Kate Erbland, IndieWire

“There are so many immediate pleasures and vicarious thrills to be had in Hustlers, a giddy, gaudy blast of a movie.” – Benjamin Lee, Guardian

We’re hearing Goodfellas comparisons: True?

“An incisive commentary on women in the workplace…surprisingly enough, it shares cinematic DNA with the 1981 juggernaut 9 to 5.” – Beandrea July, Hollywood Reporter

“[It] does for a gang of New Yawk bad girls what Goodfellas did for the mob…adapted by writer-director Lorene Scafaria at her most Scorsese.” – Peter Debruge, Variety

“Scorsese in stilettos, Goodfellas slathered in frosty lip gloss and body glitter, this is a must-see Girl’s Night Out movie.” – Courtney Howard, Fresh Fiction

“Scafaria’s direction is equally confident [with] an opening that’s Martin Scorsese by way of Paul Thomas Anderson.” Stephen Whitty, Screen International 

Hustlers soon blossoms into the kind of snappy sendup producer Adam McKay might make, with a deft and definite feminine touch.” – Kate Erbland, IndieWire

Hustlers is a crowdpleaser to its core.” – Hoai-Tran Bui, Slashfilm


(Photo by Motion Picture Artwork © 2019 STX Financing, LLC. All Rights Reserved.)

Is it empowering?

“Many filmmakers will say their film tackles female empowerment, but few do the legwork to make [it] an integral and authentic part of the story. Scafaria accomplishes that.” – Gregory Ellwood, The Playlist

“This slyly feminist movie pushes empowerment, too; it’s a film about being in control, not losing it.” – Stephen Whitty, Screen International

“Scafaria validates her heroines from the start by focusing on them as women whose internal struggles and friendships with each other are far more interesting than their obvious physical allure.” – Beandrea July, Hollywood Reporter

Hustlers represents an acrobatic celebration of unbridled femininity, in which liberated ladies take full advantage of the power they hold over men.” – Peter Debruge, Variety

“[Scafaria] re-contextualizes the way women’s bodies are looked at by almost completely ignoring the men in the room…Scafaria’s camera adopts the perspective of the women in the club, admiring the strength and athleticism of the work.”- Esther Zuckerman, Thrillist

“The film is so eager to double down on its messages of female empowerment that it ignores any of the seedy kitchen-sink realism that the beginning of the film gestures at.” – Hoai-Tran Bui, Slashfilm

J-Lo’s best performance to date?

“Not enough can be written about how stunning Lopez is in perhaps her best performance to date.” – Beandrea July, Hollywood Reporter

“It’s the sort of role that only a true movie star could pull off, so much of it reliant on a rare, intoxicating magnetism.” – Benjamin Lee, Guardian

“Yes, Lopez is THAT good.” – Anne Brodie, What She Said


(Photo by Motion Picture Artwork © 2019 STX Financing, LLC. All Rights Reserved.)

Wait, J-Lo is Oscar-level good?

“A full-force performance from Jennifer Lopez [is] genuinely deserving of awards consideration.” – Kate Erbland, IndieWire

“Awards attention would be deserved but a far greater result would be a more expansive set of roles in her future.” – Benjamin Lee, Guardian

“Scafaria assists by coaxing a performance out of Lopez that is so unexpectedly grounded and moving you’ll be walking out of the theater praying she doesn’t have to wait another 22 years to showcase her rich, dramatic talents again.” – Gregory Ellwood, The Playlist

How is the rest of the cast?

“[Constance] Wu, who broke out with…a rather flat and charmless turn in Crazy Rich Asians, is far more effective here, slickly switching between vulnerable and manipulative.” – Benjamin Lee, Guardian

“[Lopez is] matched excellently by Wu…she wavers between wryness, exhaustion, and affinity for the person who becomes her business partner and close friend.” – Esther  Zuckerman, Thrillist

“Cardi B’s relegated to a few early scenes and then shuffled offstage for the remainder of its running time..but boy, does she own the screen when she’s on.” – Sara Stewart, New York Post


(Photo by Motion Picture Artwork © 2019 STX Financing, LLC. All Rights Reserved.)

Does the movie have any problems?

“As the plan falls apart, Scafaria’s film almost follows…but it’s a brief dip.” – Benjamin Lee, Guardian

“It runs out of steam early on…there is nobody to root for here, an issue that leads to checking one’s watch midway through the show. ” – Sara Stewart, New York Post

“There’s an unnecessary wrap-around device…that lacks the innovation that Scafaria’s subjects have in spades.” – Courtney Howard, Fresh Fiction

“A number of the narrative transitions are wonky, some characters feel a bit too disposable, there is one particular reshoot that is glaringly noticeable…” – Gregory Ellwood, The Playlist

“Scafaria’s script is missing some of the edges of her earlier films…this picture feels a little too polished, a little safe…” – Stephen Whitty, Screen International

Should we pop a bottle and make a night of it?

“This is a movie made to be experienced with an audience.” – Beandrea July, Hollywood Reporter

Hustlers premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 7, 2019. It will be in theaters September 13, 2019.


Hustlers (2019)

Adjusted Score: 102.032%
Critics Consensus: Led by a career-best performance from Jennifer Lopez, Hustlers is a uniquely empowering heist drama with depth and intelligence to match its striking visual appeal.
Synopsis: Hustlers follows a crew of savvy former strip club employees who band together to turn the tables on their Wall... [More]
Directed By: Lorene Scafaria

Like this? Subscribe to our newsletter and get more features, news, and guides in your inbox every week.

Tag Cloud

Marathons space telelvision halloween SDCC VICE YouTube Premium worst stop motion french Video Games Winter TV Columbia Pictures VH1 24 frames Schedule joker TIFF San Diego Comic-Con documentary Reality Competition teaser heist movie Pirates Toys south america Hear Us Out psychological thriller remakes Mindy Kaling renewed TV shows Masterpiece Women's History Month kaiju trailers Horror Quiz Comedy Central spinoff Musicals latino award winner Sundance TV stand-up comedy GIFs ViacomCBS CBS BBC America witnail films festival indie singing competition Baby Yoda aliens boxing APB FOX what to watch Grammys Fox Searchlight spanish Family Country Super Bowl Tomatazos Television Academy TCA CMT Countdown Superheroes Reality japanese Awards Esquire diversity godzilla TV One festivals Hallmark PlayStation women Comics on TV 007 children's TV Box Office chucky History Black Mirror DGA Rom-Com universal monsters politics Film Funimation The Walt Disney Company laika 72 Emmy Awards Watching Series Thanksgiving Winners serial killer rt archives TV Discovery Channel superhero casting Western Best and Worst Hulu war prank obituary Apple TV+ Walt Disney Pictures mockumentary ABC Family WGN 21st Century Fox GLAAD ID Crackle DC Universe fresh 93rd Oscars Turner ESPN Interview Binge Guide Kids & Family stoner Showtime zombies Paramount Set visit BET Awards free movies 2018 Pop TV critics Avengers comedies USA psycho TV Land Character Guide archives Arrowverse cancelled TV series BET twilight miniseries justice league Food Network E! Freeform Legendary HBO E3 Ghostbusters versus spanish language Mary poppins comic books TBS Marvel Television book adaptation Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Musical sequel crime robots Chernobyl Exclusive Video Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Polls and Games Superheroe independent comics golden globes Amazon historical drama Disney+ Disney Plus Hallmark Christmas movies quibi game of thrones New York Comic Con dceu Certified Fresh The Arrangement Cannes First Look Fantasy LGBT cancelled Election series zombie richard e. Grant Emmy Nominations romantic comedy Travel Channel Netflix Christmas movies Spike LGBTQ Music El Rey canceled classics 4/20 BAFTA Logo elevated horror Holiday TLC Summer Valentine's Day Trophy Talk cults American Society of Cinematographers toronto toy story green book Ellie Kemper SXSW harry potter spain Rock cancelled television slashers supernatural strong female leads Warner Bros. National Geographic Martial Arts CNN crossover mission: impossible The Academy Alien cancelled TV shows Endgame Amazon Studios tv talk Amazon Prime Writers Guild of America VOD nature animated doctor who Premiere Dates kids Trivia Nat Geo talk show Sci-Fi Fall TV Lionsgate 2020 cartoon thriller dramedy WarnerMedia italian boxoffice screenings Shudder USA Network finale Holidays President parents book The CW TCA 2017 james bond YouTube Comedy Pet Sematary TCA Winter 2020 composers Sneak Peek Fox News Britbox ABC Signature Disney Acorn TV worst movies 2015 adventure MTV scary movies reboot Biopics Pixar unscripted cops vampires blockbuster criterion Marvel Studios Spectrum Originals Song of Ice and Fire Animation reviews Marvel See It Skip It 2021 docudrama NBC golden globe awards NYCC Syfy deadpool Academy Awards ghosts asian-american docuseries Mudbound YouTube Red spy thriller spider-man black binge Cosplay biography documentaries dc Epix OneApp hispanic facebook scorecard Star Wars Emmys movies Photos australia Rocketman Oscars Crunchyroll DC Comics Sundance Now Spring TV Pop Shondaland comic Bravo travel concert Elton John A&E nbcuniversal A24 a nightmare on elm street Teen Opinion venice DirecTV BBC One foreign HBO Go science fiction 20th Century Fox Action Podcast sequels nfl television rotten GoT Disney Channel video child's play kong die hard jurassic park Brie Larson dark Year in Review Trailer DC streaming service pirates of the caribbean cars FX IFC Films CW Seed YA video on demand Rocky franchise werewolf Mystery Dark Horse Comics Apple hidden camera Adult Swim new star wars movies Universal revenge cinemax 99% Cartoon Network jamie lee curtis rom-coms popular X-Men dragons Drama TV renewals TCM football sag awards hollywood game show Stephen King HBO Max Awards Tour Turner Classic Movies AMC Extras streaming PBS Sundance disaster king kong name the review MSNBC Captain marvel theme song news IFC screen actors guild Starz Infographic mutant TNT Paramount Network Sony Pictures batman technology rotten movies we love Christmas Amazon Prime Video zero dark thirty FX on Hulu Lucasfilm Disney Plus The Walking Dead ITV Mary Tyler Moore Lifetime based on movie best directors Anna Paquin 71st Emmy Awards halloween tv christmas movies canceled TV shows CBS All Access period drama emmy awards BBC Creative Arts Emmys Film Festival PaleyFest RT21 Comic Book The Purge Nominations comiccon ABC natural history 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards political drama Lifetime Christmas movies Heroines 2017 monster movies First Reviews Tumblr breaking bad true crime Netflix RT History TruTV Mary Poppins Returns Television Critics Association Disney streaming service Classic Film Vudu Star Trek crime drama blockbusters cooking sports fast and furious indiana jones 2019 Pride Month 2016 TCA Awards Nickelodeon sitcom razzies Paramount Plus Tarantino anime Ovation ratings dogs crime thriller Red Carpet superman Peacock hist discovery adaptation MCU cats OWN social media movie 45 Broadway Calendar medical drama Tubi anthology The Witch police drama all-time FXX blaxploitation romance Apple TV Plus satire SundanceTV transformers Black History Month