In the matter of Best Picture choosing, most people don’t vote for craft, texture, precision, expertise. These things are important to critics but not Academy and guild members as a rule; ditto Joe Popcorn for the most part.

The cliche is that industry people vote for films that radiate strong emotion, except in the instances of horror films like Chicago, The Artist, The King’s Speech and whatnot. What they really respond to, I’ve always believed, are narratives that pass along views about life that they recognize as real and truthful.

So what are the leading 2019 Best Picture candidates saying about our time here on earth, and which of these lessons or themes are the most compelling? Starting from the top…

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