As I watched the opening scene in Gravity, I was in awe. Right away, just seeing these astronauts float around on a routine space walk, the film was beautiful and thrilling. A few minutes in, a couple behind me in the theater remarked with a sneer, “Where are all the satellites and shit?” Their sarcastic question was more than answered and they didn’t make a peep the rest of the movie. I believe the whole audience was absolutely spellbound.
In Gravity Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) is a medical engineer turned relatively inexperienced astronaut. As she and more experience astronaut, Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) work together, we understand that space is not her element, but perhaps an escape from her troubles on Earth. During the opening space walk, satellite debris comes crashing at the astronauts, destroying much of the space station around them. It’s a horrifyingly beautiful sight to see and clearly sets up the fear and danger of being stranded floating in space. After the danger has passed, and Ryan and Matt are harnessed together, they realize their only chance of survival is to get to another space station, which means drifting through space in the right direction without running out of oxygen.
Many of the scenes are one continuous longshot. In fact, the opening scene is over twelve minutes without a single break. Granted, it is digitally edited from multiple takes to seamlessly flow into one continuous image, but still, my God their effect is amazing. Hitchcock might have been green with envy of all the suspense they produce.
One thing that seemed to damper the film when it was first released was how many scientific inaccuracies could be spotted throughout the film. For some people, that ruined it, if it’s not accurate then why care? Personally, I don’t find the inaccuracies to be a problem, let it be fiction and if it’s good enough, I’ll believe what I want to. However, when Ryan does nothing to stop those little bits of fire floating around the Russian space station, I got a little more ticked than concerned. Floating fire does not seem like something a trained astronaut would ignore.
At ten nominations, Gravity is tied for the most nominated film of 2013 with American Hustle. While American Hustle racked up the acting nominations, Gravity got its boost from more technical awards, including visual effects, cinematography, sound editing and sound mixing. It is also nominated for Best Picture, production design, original score, film editing. Alfonso Cuarón received his first Oscar nomination for best director and Sandra Bullock received her second nomination as lead actress.
Overall, Gravity is a captivating thrill ride of a film that clearly deserves all this Oscar love. From the moment those wayward satellites crashed in, to the very end, I was on the edge of my seat, nervous, excited and enjoying every minute.
“Because either way, it’s going to be one hell of a ride! I’m ready.”