“Inside Llewyn Davis” and “Saving Mr. Banks” Movie Reviews 

Two big Oscar-worthy movies are opening in theaters near you. First, we have “Inside Llewyn Davis” from Joel and Ethan Coen. The film is set during the 1960s Village folk scene and it follows a week in Llewyn Davis’ (the fantastic Oscar Isaac) life as he navigates through the ups and downs of a struggling musician. Featuring a talented supporting cast headed by Justin Timberlake, Carey Mulligan, John Goodman, and F. Murray Abraham.

We also have “Saving Mr. Banks,” Emma Thompson stars as P.L. Travers, the author of the “Mary Poppins” book. Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) has been courting her so he can turn the book into a movie. The film speaks volumes about art and how we use it to be at peace with our past. Colin Farrel, Jason Schwartzman, Bradley Whitford, and B.J. Novak co-star for director John Lee Hancock.

So are both films supercalifragilisticexpialidocious? Find out below with my reviews of “Inside Llewyn Davis” and “Saving Mr. Banks.”

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Jon M. Chu Talks About Justin Bieber and “Justin Bieber’s Believe” 

Jon M. Chu returns to direct “Justin Bieber’s Believe.” Previously, he helmed “Justin Bieber: Never Say Never” but this time, not only was Chu behind the camera, he was also the creative director of Bieber’s concert. So he knows the boy wonder really well.

I’ve interviewed Chu before for his previous “Step Up” movies, and it’s always fun to chat with him. In this interview, we talked about:

*** If “Never Say Never” was about Bieber the performer, “Believe” is about Bieber the artist.
*** What made him want to pull double duty with “Believe?”
*** Did he enter the arena with a singular theme or was this freewheeling?
*** The tabloid issues surrounding Justin Bieber, and Chu’s quote on the film that asked the star if he’s a “train wreck.”
*** I love that the documentary shows Bieber’s humanitarian side – taking care of a sick fan, etc. And just recently, he visited the Philippines to help those devastated by Typhoon Haiyan. Was Bieber really that genuine of a person or was it all for show?

“Justin Bieber’s Believe” opens nationwide on Christmas Day.

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Austin Film Critics Pick Different Best Picture, Actress 

And finally, one of the few critics groups not choosing "12 Years a Slave" for Best Picture. The Austin Film Critics Association gave the honor to Spike Jonze's "Her." They also picked a different Best Actress (take that Cate Blanchett!) and went with Brie Larson for the fantastic "Short Term 12."

Here's the complete list of winners of the Austin Film Critics Association awards:

Best Film: "Her"

Best Director: Alfonso Cuarón, "Gravity"

Best Actor: Chiwetel Ejiofor, "12 Years a Slave"

Best Actress: Brie Larson, "Short Term 12"

Best Supporting Actor: Jared Leto, "Dallas Buyers Club"

Best Supporting Actress: Lupita Nyong'o, "12 Years a Slave"

Best Original Screenplay: Spike Jonze, "Her"

Best Adapted Screenplay: John Ridley, "12 Years a Slave"

Best Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki, "Gravity"

Best Score: Arcade Fire, "Her"

Best Foreign Language Film: "Blue is the Warmest Color"

Best Documentary: "The Act of Killing"

Best Animated Film: "Frozen"

Best First Film: "Fruitvale Station"

Breakthrough Artist: Brie Larson, "Short Term 12"

Best Austin Film: "Before Midnight"

Special Honorary Award: Scarlett Johansson, for her outstanding voice performance in "Her"

AFCA 2013 Top Ten Films

1. "Her"
2. "12 Years a Slave"
3. "Gravity"
4. "The Wolf of Wall Street"
5. "Inside Llewyn Davis"
6. "Short Term 12"
7. "Mud"
8. "Before Midnight"
9. "Dallas Buyers Club"
10. "Captain Phillips"

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Florida Film Critics Embrace "12 Years a Slave" 

Okay I'm running out of verbs to use for various critics groups honoring Steve McQueen's "12 Years a Slave." I can only use hail, love, embrace for so much! But will the critics love for "12 years" translate into Oscar gold? That's the question!

Here's the complete list of winners of the Florida Film Critics Circle awards:

Picture: "12 Years a Slave"

Actor: Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave

Actress: Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine

Supporting Actor: Jared Leto, The Dallas Buyers Club

Supporting Actress: Lupita Nyong’O, 12 Years a Slave

Director: Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave

Adapted Screenplay: John Ridley, 12 Years a Slave

Original Screenplay: Spike Jonze, Her

Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki, Gravity

Visual Effects: Gravity

Art Direction/Production Design: Damien Drew et.al. and Catherine Martin et.al., The Great Gatsby

Foreign Language: Blue is the Warmest Color

Animated: Frozen

Documentary: The Act of Killing

Breakout: Lupita Nyong’O, 12 Years a Slave

Golden Orange: Dana Keith

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"12 Years a Slave" Tops Las Vegas Film Critics Awards 

Various critics groups are almost unanimous in hailing Steve McQueen's "12 Years a Slave" the best picture of the year! Today, the Las Vegas Film Critics Society (LVFCS)is one of the award-giving bodies crowning the movie as the year's best.

Here's the complete list of winners of the Las Vegas Film Critics Society:

Best Picture: “12 Years a Slave”

Best Director: Steve McQueen, “12 Years a Slave”

Best Actor: Matthew McConaughey, “Dallas Buyers Club”

Best Actress: Emma Thompson, “Saving Mr. Banks”

Best Supporting Actor: Jared Leto, “Dallas Buyers Club”

Best Supporting Actress: Lupita Nyong’o, “12 Years a Slave”

Best Screenplay: Spike Jonze, “Her”

Best Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki, “Gravity”

Best Film Editing: Alfonso Cuaron & Mark Sanger, “Gravity”

Best Costume Design: Patricia Norris, “12 Years a Slave”

Best Art Direction: Andy Nicholson, “Gravity”

Best Visual Effects: “Gravity”

Best Foreign Film: “Blue is the Warmest Color”

Best Documentary: “Blackfish”

Best Animated Film: “Frozen”

Best Family Film: “Saving Mr. Banks”

Best Horror/Sci-Fi Film: “Pacific Rim”

Best Comedy Film: “This is the End”

Best Action Film: “Lone Survivor”

Best Score: Hans Zimmer, “12 Years a Slave”

Best Song: “Please Mr. Kennedy,” – “Inside Llewyn Davis”

Youth in Film: Tye Sheridan, “Mud”

Breakout Filmmaker of the Year: Ryan Coogler, “Fruitvale Station”

Best DVD (Packaging, Design and Content): “Breaking Bad – The Complete Series” (Blu-Ray)

William Holden Lifetime Achievement Award: John Goodman

LVFCS Top 10 Films of 2013
1. 12 Years a Slave
2. Dallas Buyers Club
3. Gravity
4. The Wolf of Wall Street
5. American Hustle
6. Inside Llewyn Davis
7. Saving Mr. Banks
8. Nebraska
9. Her
10. Lone Survivor

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