American Hustle imitates the style of Goodfellas with its multiple narrations, rock and roll soundtrack, and fascination with low level players. Unlike the wiseguys in Goodfellas who defy society through creating an alternate one with their own standards of upward mobility, the con artists in American Hustle go for the big money by playing the system against itself.
Irving and Sydney set their sights on Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner), populist mayor of Camden, New Jersey. Renner, looking like Joe Pesci, comes across as sincere in his dreams to revitalize his community, but gets done in by his own good intentions.
Although set in the 70s, American Hustle would work in any decade. I believe early versions of the script set the story in the 1930s. Hustling and capitalism go hand in hand, a trait American Hustle celebrates and laments.