American Hustle is exactly the kind of movie the Academy should be honoring. It has mass appeal but is still a rock solid movie in an old-fashioned sense: incredibly solid acting and storytelling, visually appealing, lots of intrigue, a great mix of drama and comedy, and overall just a solid portrait of a group of people in a specific time and place. It's the same formula as Silver Linings Playbook although I think SLP is a better movie. I think all the nominations are deserved except for Bradley Cooper, who has limited range. I would have replaced him with Jeremy Renner -- I am baffled as to how he hasn't gotten more attention for this.
i totally disagree with the assessment that the characters are not well-drawn in any way. They have multiple motives and facets to them and I would put David O. Russell's female characters in particular against any others in any movie.
I'd always be happy to see edgier films nominated (provided they're good, of course), but anyone who thinks that's what the Oscars are for is kidding himself. It's a commercial for movies that Hollywood wants people to see (good ones, of course) and thinks the public can handle. And really, I have no problem with that.
All that aside, I think the noms as a whole are kind of a snooze fest.