Details. Details.

Some movies nail them, others miss. Part of the genius of "American Hustle," the lively fictionalized drama about the Abscam scandal from David O. Russell, is that it gets all of them so absolutely right: the poodle-esque permie curls that spring from the head, the cylinderlike goldilocks that could only be produced with an expertly applied curling wand, the plunging neckline heralding ample cleavage, the shirt unbuttoned to reveal hefty gold chains and tufts of chest hair.

Every little bit of clothing, music and adornment in "Hustle" evokes the goofy sensibility that defined the '70s. To achieve such brilliant authenticity on screen, costume designer Michael Wilkinson and production designer Judy Becker have clearly done their research; their efforts pay off with a comic bang.

But "Hustler" isn't just about textured looks and sensations. It's just as much about this country's mood and spirit, with filmmaker Russell introducing us to larger-than-life dreamers, con men, politicos and mobsters caught up in a "let's-make-money" era.

This is Russell's follow to his sweet-natured Oscar nominee "Silver Linings Playbook" and a blast of outrageous, rambunctious fun. It's also his best, most fully realized work yet. Not only is it terrifically acted and perfectly cast, it's sexy and smart.

I can't wait to see it again.

Russell and screenwriter Eric Warren Singer have made engaging fiction out of history. For those in need of a tutorial, Abscam was a government-sponsored sweep of corruption during the '70s and '80s that wound up corralling politicos who took the bait and got involved in shady deals.

Originally, "Hustle" was envisioned as a more traditional overview of the sting operation. Russell modified that, sprucing the screenplay up with his personal memories and reflections of the time, along with doses of humor. The result is a character-rich story that distills down to its very essence of the '70s, a time when Americans adopted affectations only to confront a dawning reality that left them wanting to drop phony facades.

While Amy Adams and Christian Bale are the main stars, this is a true ensemble set piece with one outstanding performance after another. Adams, vampish and never more alluring, plays Sydney Prosser, a poser who adopts a phony British accent and hooks up with crafty Bronx con artist Irving Rosenfeld (a potbellied Bale in a bad toupee). In a sly move, Bale speaks almost like Robert De Niro. Later in the film, Irving meets up with a mobster played by -- who else? -- an uncredited De Niro. The priceless exchange is one of many.

Sydney and Irving are two hucksters with big ambitions. They become partners and lovers, even though Irving is married to the temperamental and just plain mental Rosalyn (Oscar-winner Jennifer Lawrence, in one of the year's best, most lightning-in-a-bottle performances). Sydney and Irving find themselves caught in the ambitious cross hairs of the handsome but smarmy FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper, so ideal for this part), who lives at home with his mom. DiMaso also sees the New Jersey mayor Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner) as his promotion-hopping meal ticket.

To relate this big story -- which is reminiscent of a Martin Scorsese film -- Russell avoids the confinement of A-to-Z storytelling. He toys with time sequence and uses flashbacks along with alternating voice-over narrations to fully flesh it out. Executed poorly, it would be a potential disaster. Here it's pulled off with irresistible high spirits.

Even with a freewheeling style, "Hustle" is never aimless. All that flash, sass and canny sense for detail hit the jackpot, and will likely score more Oscar nominations for the Lawrence-Russell-Cooper dream team as well as for Russell regulars, Bale and Adams.

There's a glut of holiday movies our right now, vying for attention. This one is worth hustling over to see.

'American Hustle'
H ***
Rating: R (for pervasive language, some sexual content and brief violence)
Cast: Amy Adams, Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro
Director: David O. Russell
Running time: 2 hours, 12 minutes