The commercial and critical success of David O. Russell’s two most recent films – The Fighter (2010) and Silver Linings Playbook (2012) – has afforded the American auteur the luxury of being able to tackle more of his passion projects. And the latest of those is American Hustle, a fictionalized account of the famous 1970s ABSCAM sting operation that successfully uncovered government corruption and resulted in several convictions of U.S. Congressmen.

Though we hadn’t heard or seen much from the film until now, excitement has been slowly building among fans of his previous work, especially after casting announcements revealed that many of Russell’s past collaborators would be returning, including Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence and Robert De Niro.

Now we’re finally getting a first look at that fantastic cast in costume on the 1970s-set film, courtesy of USA Today and Columbia Pictures. In the above image, we see Christian Bale (almost unrecognizable in his getup) playing con artist Irving Rosenfeld and Amy Adams alongside him as his mistress and partner-in-crime, Sydney. In the film, the two have been recruited by unhinged FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Cooper), who is impressed by their brilliance and unique skill in the arts of theft and deception.

With Rosenfeld’s assistance, it seems DiMaso may have all the tools he needs to take down some of Congress’ dirtiest players, but when Rosenfeld’s wife Rosalyn (Lawrence) enters the picture, she threatens to blow the entire operation. Meanwhile, the volatile mayor of Camden, New Jersey – played by Russell first-time collaborator, Jeremy Renner – desperately tries to keep his impoverished city afloat in the midst of a recession.

Check out the full-sized photos of Christian Bale, Amy Adams, and Bradley Cooper below:

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Like Russell’s past films, the impressive all-star cast will likely be its biggest draw and Russell is certainly putting each actor’s talents to good use by letting them explore new characters.

Said Russell:

 “Everybody gets to do something we’ve never seen before. That’s exciting to me.”

While Russell seems comfortable using people he’s worked with before, he’s also added several new names – some unexpected – to the cast this time around, as Michael Pena (Gangster Squad), Jack Huston (Boardwalk Empire) and Louis C.K. (Louie) help round out the ensemble.

With a immensely gifted group of actors, a quirky, off-beat director and an awards-season release, we can surely expect American Hustle to come up in many Oscar contender conversations. The film is said to be somewhat satirical in its approach (as most of Russell’s films are), while also serving as an engaging drama. We hope that combination creates another winner from one of this generation’s finest directors.

Are you looking forward to American Hustle? Let us know in the comments!

American Hustle comes to select cities on December 13th, 2013. It releases wide on Christmas Day.

Sources: USA Today, Photos by Francois Duhamel, Columbia Pictures