Our Movie Critic's Weekend Selections

Chiwetel Ejiofor stars in "12 Years A Slave," the tale of a free black man sold into slavery in the pre-Civil War South.


12 Years a Slave A free black man is kidnapped and sold into slavery, toiling on plantations in the pre-Civil War South, confronted with impossible hardships and cruelty. British actor Chiwetel Ejiofor gives body and soul in the lead, and Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Giamatti, Paul Dano, and Brad Pitt are part of a superb supporting cast. Shocking, essential. R

American Hustle David O. Russell's wild, woolly take on the late-'70s FBI sting operation Abscam is also a wild, woolly love story: Christian Bale and Amy Adams as con artists recruited by the feds and fated for each other. Throw Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence into the mix, and something goes kaboom in just about every scene - brilliantly. R


Inside Llewyn Davis Oscar Isaac is a hard-luck troubador on the folk scene of early '60s Greenwich Village in the Coen brothers' sublime odyssey to nowhere. A story of artistic struggle, and of the crushing beauty that can be wrested from a song. With Carey Mulligan, Justin Timberlake, and John Goodman - and with many a dark, twisted laugh along the way. R