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Actress Jessica Chastain is shown in a scene from the film ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ in this publicity photo released to Reuters. The film has been nominated for Best Picture at the 80th Academy Awards this weekend.

Entertainment reporter Erin McCracken and FlipSide editor Pat Abdalla love movies. Between the two of them, they’ve seen all the titles up for Best Picture at this year’s Academy Awards. Read what they had to say about the nine nominated films.

Erin’s take on “Beasts of the Southern Wild”: If anyone else saw “The Tree of Life” – last year’s expansive Best Picture nominee that heaped on metaphors to hint at universal themes – you’ll understand why I would compare that film to this one. At roughly 90 minutes, this is the shortest Best Picture nominee. But it uses its time wisely to pack a punch. More experience than movie, “Beasts” transports viewers to a world that’s familiar but unknown. With a clever mix of childhood wonderment and lush cinematography, it addresses a hot political topic sans soapbox. It is my vote for Best Picture. In child actress Quvenzhan√© Wallis, a star is born.

Pat’s take on “Life of Pi”: I’ll start by saying “Pi” is one of my all-time favorite books, and that I was skeptical it could be turned into a worthwhile movie. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Ang Lee’s version blew me away. No movie has ever pulled me into a different world so successfully or enjoyably. The visuals were stunning, but unlike a James Cameron film, this was more than visuals. This movie made me examine how I look at the world. And every moment of it was fun and wonderful. I hope it wins Best Picture.

— Read commentary on the other Best Picture nominees. Check out all nominees.
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