Christmas is five days away, but Hollywood has given us some cool presents.
Best of the week is "Inside Llewyn Davis," the Coen brothers' detailed re-creation of the '60s folk music scene in New York's Greenwich Village — and the tale of a luckless musician (Oscar Isaac) whose prickly disposition and uncompromising devotion to his art combine to make him miserable. The Coens bring the scene alive, with a strong supporting cast (including Carey Mulligan, Justin Timberlake and John Goodman) and a rich soundtrack.
Speaking of soundtracks, the '70s/'80s vibe is strong in "American Hustle," director David O. Russell's energetic con-artist comedy. Christian Bale and Amy Adams play con artists who are nabbed by the Feds, and encouraged by a loose-cannon FBI agent (Bradley Cooper) to help out with a sting on corrupt politicians. Sharp humor and solid performances — especially by Jennifer Lawrence as Bale's unstable wife — make this one a hoot.