Gravity received nominations for Best Picture, Best Actress: Sandra Bullock, Best Director: Alfonso Cuaron, Best Film Editing, Best Cinematography, Best Production Design, Best Visual Effects, Best Sound Mixing, Best Sound Editing, and Best Original Score.
Update: Won Best Visual Effects; Won Best Sound Mixing; Won Best Sound Editing; Won Best Cinematography; Won Best Film Editing; Won Best Original Score; Best Director: Alfonso Cuaron
Wow. After watching the film for the first time, that was my response. Wow.
It is a stunning film with its primary setting as outer space. Sandra Bullock is Dr. Ryan Stone, who along with George Clooney’s Matt Kowalski, is to repair the Hubble telescope. However, for Ryan, this is her first space travel, which leaves her a bit anxious. I imagine as it would one the first time he or she rode on a roller coaster.
Space debris is moving towards the Hubble fast, and when it hits, it sends Ryan on a roller coaster ride of her own. Under the direction of Alfonso Cuaron, we are taken on that ride too. And our anxiety, along with Ryan’s increases, leaving her (and us?) in a dangerous condition. Camera angels from a number of different, and unique, perspectives give us a sense of what Ryan is physically going through. I can only imagine how amazing it must have been in an Imax theater.
Matt tells mission control, “Houston, I have a bad feeling about this mission.” We get the sense that Matt says that a lot, as he must tell the same stories over and over again. But we also get a sense of foreshadowing of what is to come. As a side note, Ed Harris (Apollo 13) is the “voice” of mission control.
While Ryan is a rookie in space travel, Matt is a veteran. He is a teacher and the one who calms her down when things get out of hand. Matt offers himself as a sacrifice so that Ryan may live. As he floats away into space, he continues to talk to her. His voice is still with her. When she is low on oxygen, she has a vision of Matt coming into her pod and showing her how to operate it. When she comes to, she follows what Matt showed her. Later, as she is about to break through the Earth’s atmosphere, she channels Matt. Matt is a Christ-figure. Not just because he sacrificed himself for Ryan, but by what he said and taught.
What is most striking about this film is that as stunning as it is visually, it is emotionally stunning. There is something happening to Ryan. Based on the way the images are projected, Ryan is experiencing new birth. It is not uncommon that moments of catastrophe cause transformation. There is no doubt that an experience like this – floating through space – is one that changes Ryan forever.
At the conclusion of the film, as she swims up from the depths of the river and crawls to the shore, she has to learn how to walk again. She, like a new-born deer, has to figure out how to use these things call legs. She has been born again.