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Scene Desk Round Table: What should win Best Picture?

On Sunday night, the best of the film industry will come together for the Academy Awards to celebrate their art. And to win some awards. This year’s Best Picture nominees are “The Artist,” “The Descendants,” “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close,” “The Help,” “Hugo,” “Midnight in Paris,” “Moneyball,” “The Tree of Life” and “War Horse.” @@[email protected]@We’ll each tell you which movie we think should win the night’s biggest honor.

Kaitie Todd’s pick: “The Artist”

It should be noted that I’ve only seen four of the nine films nominated for best picture at this year’s awards. That being said, I still feel pretty confident in my choice for which should win this highly esteemed Oscar: “The Artist.”  This film is, simply put, one of the best movies I have seen in a long time. Exuding classic charm and emotions ranging from elation to loneliness, this film is a loving throwback to silent films of the past, and it adopts a number of their stylistic elements. It tells the story of silent film actor George Valentin@@, who in 1927 is at the height of a very successful film career. He mentors young Peppy Miller, an up-and-coming actress whom he immediately feels a connection with. Only a few years later, Valentin’s career is over as the “talkies” have taken over the film business, and he must work through his life as a struggling artist. This film combines strong, carefully acted performances by Jean Dujardin (George Valentin) and Berenice Bejo (Peppy Miller), a fitting, engaging score, and creative, emotional direction by Michel Hazanavicius@@, making it an excellent choice for this year’s best picture.

Amanda Barker’s pick: “The Descendants”

“The Descendants” should win this year’s award simply because of the performance of its dynamic duo: Shailene Woodley and George Clooney. What else should we expect from Clooney, who’s also been nominated for Best Actor? But Woodley abandons her “The Secret Life of the American Teenager” days and really shocks the audience with an outstanding performance as a troubled teen. The film brings every emotion to life and leaves the audience crying and laughing by the end. That’s not to mention the setting. Hawaii is breathtaking, and “The Descendants” does a superb job of painting this seemingly perfect setting in a way that shows its true colors. It’s raw. It’s suspenseful. It’s hilarious. But most of all, the acting is believable.@@

Alando Ballantyne’s pick: “Midnight in Paris”

As it turns out, Woody Allen has finally found the perfect actor to deliver his signature sense of humor – Owen Wilson@@ This year, the two teamed up to create “Midnight in Paris.” When Gil (Wilson) traveled to Paris with his not-so-nice fiancee (Rachel McAdams) and her family, he gets drunk one night and meets up with famous past writers and artists such as Salvador Dali and Ernest Hemingway, who make him realize that marrying his fiancee isn’t the best idea. Here’s the great thing about the film — it’s not that complicated, it’s not that dramatic and it probably won’t change your life. “Midnight in Paris” is classic Wilson and classic Allen — it’s goofy and funny in a simple, summer-afternoon sort of way. And these days, amid a year of more wars, bombs, financial crises and just a whole lot of stress all round, a goofy film that puts Wilson in the middle of a past era of great artists and writers is exactly what we need.

Kelly Ardis’s pick: “The Artist”

I’m with Kaitie on this one. “The Artist” is a truly unique film that harkens back to the Golden Age of film. How different it is from any movie we’ve seen lately is reason enough to justify the critical acclaim the film has received, but it’s not the only reason why it should win the Oscar for Best Picture this year. After seeing this film, I would have been quite content to stay in my seat at the theater and watch it again, right away. The story is a fairly common one for many silent film actors who struggled to make the switch to “talkies,” but what makes this movie so great is the emotion expressed solely through facial expressions, gestures, context and the occasional dialogue card. Monsieur Dujardin can express more emotions with his face alone than most actors can with a wonderfully written script. Visually, the film is beautiful. As a silent film, the music is a key aspect to help express moods and tones, which the film’s score does exquisitely.

Rebecca Sedlak’s pick: “Midnight in Paris”

“Midnight in Paris” is basically a literature major’s dream and as an English major, I have to say I’m partial to this film for just that reason. Who wouldn’t want to experience the Paris of Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, Picasso, Dali, Cole Porter and others? But I’m getting ahead of myself: Just why should “Midnight in Paris” win Best Picture? Well, for one, writer and director Woody Allen is a master storyteller. Paris is always charming, but Paris after midnight is magical. And the magical realism in this film doesn’t need to be overly explained, it just is what it is. Gil (Owen Wilson) and Inez (Rachel McAdams) have to face the facts that their views on what constitutes a perfect life are fundamentally different — and in a way that makes you want to pinch McAdams for being so perfectly goddamn snooty and applaud Wilson for being a charming, goddamn rambler. The cast is phenomenal, with a list of Hollywood’s best, including Marion Cotillard, Kathy Bates, Adrian Brody and others@@[email protected]@. This film is quirky, sincere and passionate. It ponders the role of the artist, looks back nostalgically on the past and mediates on the great city of Paris.

Final score: Two for “The Artist,” two for “Midnight in Paris” and one for “The Descendants.” Watch the Academy Awards Sunday evening at 5:30 p.m. on ABC to find out who wins.

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