Friday, October 4, 2013


Gravity is a science fiction film which takes place in space, but this is not Star Wars. This is hard science fiction, as realistic as the filmmakers could manage. It is an intimate, personal story which reminds me strongly of  127 Hours. Both movies are set in inhospitable wastelands and follow characters who are stranded in dire circumstances with little hope of survival and less of rescue.

Also like 127 Hours, Gravity relies on strong performances from its very small cast of actors. George Clooney is perfect as Matt Kowalski, the veteran astronaut on his last mission. Sandra Bullock is outstanding as Ryan Stone the scientist out of her depth. The movie depends on their skill as actors, and they are up to the task. I expect award nominations, at least for Bullock and maybe for both.

This movie is gripping, tense, absorbing, and absolutely gorgeous. I saw it in 3D on one of the fancier screens, and I recommend paying extra to do the same. The views of and from space are tremendously beautiful and should be seen as large as possible.

This movie is also a work of art from a filmmaking perspective. I don't know how the low-gravity effects were done, and I don't really care. I care that they were good enough that I didn't want to nitpick at moments where the physics might have been a bit off. Along with the technical achievement of the gravity effects, Alfonso Cuaron chose to film in long, long takes. I'm a sucker for long takes - anyone can take miles of film and chop watchable bits out of it, then string them together into something watchable, but it takes real discipline and planning on the part of the entire cast and crew to film a ten-minute continuous shot.  These were beautifully complicated shots, too, with lots of moving and panning and dialogue and effects. Best of all, it was the perfect artistic choice: long scenes to compliment the vast setting. Wonderful work.

Gravity easily takes the top spot on the list so far this year, and I expect it to stay in the top five. I have nothing negative at all to say about it. The only way I can think of someone not liking it is bad expectations. So understand that this is a character-centric thriller/disaster movie, not an action movie or a sci-fi film with fantastical elements. And see it on the biggest screen you can find.

1. Gravity
2. Much Ado About Nothing
3. Now You See Me
4. The World's End
5. Despicable Me 2
6. Star Trek: Into Darkness
7. Oblivion
8. Iron Man 3
9. Pacific Rim
10. Kick Ass 2
11. Man of Steel
12. Jack the Giant Slayer
13. Beautiful Creatures
14. The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones
15. The Family
16. RIPD
17. Oz the Great and Powerful
18. Epic
19. G.I. Joe: Retaliation
20. The Wolverine
21. Elysium
22. Monsters University
23. Hansel and Gretel, Witch Hunters
24. The Grandmaster
25. The Great Gatsby
26. The Lone Ranger
27. This is the End

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