The Academy of Motion Pictures has released their nominees for the Best Picture of 2013. Each of this year's nine nominees was reviewed by Crosswalk film critics (and, in several cases, our editors as well). Here's how we graded them: 

POSITIVE REVIEWS:

12 YEARS A SLAVE
Director, Steve McQueen; Rated R

"As intimate as most scenes are, their cumulative power is epic. What McQueen has accomplished is singular to its subject, and comparable to the depths Steven Spielberg plunged us into through the Nazi’s Jewish Holocaust in Schindler's List. It's not for the faint of heart, and its brutality in all forms – including sexual – cannot be morally defined merely by its visual depiction alone, or the simplification of its R-rating. 12 Years a Slave is an achievement as towering as it is necessary; it's not the first film about slavery we’ve seen, but it's quite possibly the most definitive." ~Jeffrey Huston, 12 Years a Slave the Definitive Slavery Film

See also: 12 Years a Slave Prompts Calls for Racial Reconciliation

PHILOMENA
Director, Stephen Frears; Rated PG-13

"They don't have a clue where this journey will take them, nor do we. Along the way, Martin and Philomena often find themselves discussing and debating God. The film doesn't answer the God questions it raises (which also broach one character's sexual orientation) but rather shows how two different people imperfectly reconcile those tensions... Just when it seems this will be yet another liberal prosecution of religion, it gives equal credence to and a sincere expression of Philomena's faith. This film is as much an indictment on the sins of the Church as it is the cynicism of the agnostic... making deliberate references to nuns who were as Christ-like and compassionate as others were cruel." ~Jeffrey Huston, Philomena a 'Good Cry' Movie about a Mom's Regret

See also: Philomena Video Movie Review

GRAVITY
Director, Alfonso Cuaron; Rated PG-13

"Demands superlatives for its visual presentation; it should be seen on a large screen, in 3D, to be fully appreciated... Gravity's most poignant moment comes when Stone, sure she's facing imminent death, says no one will mourn for her, and no one will pray for her soul. She doesn't know how to pray. Is there Anyone out there that can hear her? she wonders. Forced to confront her own mortality, Stone is shaken out of her lingering sorrow over her daughter's death to consider the idea that there might be Someone who cares about the dire situation in which she finds herself." ~Christian Hamaker, Simple Story, Visual Mastery Mark Mesmerizing Gravity

See also: Gravity Video Movie Review; Gravity and the Meaning of Salvation