Watch this space: Analysing Gravity’s chances this Awards Season

Image: Warner Bros
Image: Warner Bros

If you haven’t seen Gravity yet you’d better have a pretty good excuse. The space-epic has been the toast of the film world this past month and has been generating some pretty big awards buzz. CUB Film takes a look at some of the key factors that could decide whether Alfonso Cuarón’s masterpiece wins big over the next few months.

Why Gravity WILL win:

1) Sandra Bullock
The performance of her career. And I mean, that’s saying something – Miss Congeniality, anyone? – but Gravity truly showcases Bullock’s array of talents. It’s pretty much a solo vehicle for the Academy Award winner: her only other credited acting co-star is George Clooney, who is absent for the majority of the film.

A lot of other well-known actresses were in the running for the part of Dr Ryan Stone, but it’s impossible to imagine anyone outdoing Bullock. Stone pretty much goes through hell during the 90 minutes of this film, and it’s conveyed in every expression and body movement she makes. In addition to floating adrift and alone in the middle of space amidst an onslaught of space debris, Stone has also suffered the death of her 4-year-old daughter.

For sure, Cuarón’s incredibly clever direction is part of the reason we align ourselves so much with Stone – but Bullock’s unbelievably simple, powerful and real performance makes this sci-fi film intrinsically human and should be rewarded.

2) Not too much competition?

I will contradict myself later, but bear with me for now. The last year’s not really been that great, in terms of worldwide hits that have you whooping “Oscars! Oscars!” as you leave the cinema. Gravity is the first real audience-friendly blockbuster we’ve seen this year and is surely close to the top of anyone’s list of Best Picture nominees.

There have been a lot of human-interest films that have been well received this year – Captain Phillips, Blue is the Warmest Colour, Saving Mr Banks, The Butler –but Gravity is the only one really stepping out there with subject matter and really going for it in true Hollywood blockbuster style. And it’s really, really good.

3) It’s stunning

Technically and visually, this is one of the most impressive films to come out of Hollywood for awhile. Cuarón looks a dead-cert to be nominated the world over for his direction, and Emmanuel Lubezki’s cinematography will definitely be recognised.

Admittedly, the narrative of this film isn’t anything too ground-breaking, but this
is one seriously good-looking movie. Not really since James Cameron’s Avatar have we seen a sci-fi film with this sort of ambition, and I would urge anyone who hasn’t seen Gravity to see it for the opening sequence alone. The visuals in this film are out of this world. Sorry.

Why Gravity WON’T win:

1) 12 Years A Slave
Here’s my contradiction. There are a few films that could plausibly steal Best Picture away from Gravity – but for me Steve McQueen’s 12 Years is head and shoulders above anything else.

It’s a tough one: Gravity is arguably the better visual picture, it’s technically ambitious and gloriously realised. But 12 Years is truly the most affecting piece of cinema I’ve ever experienced, and it’s seriously important too. The films differ in several areas, but both are brilliant pieces of filmmaking bolstered by career-best lead performances (Bullock and 12 Years’ Chiwetel Ejiofor).

It’ll be really interesting to see which of these films comes out on top in the big awards, as either one winning would be a big statement.

2) The Academy love a good Sci-fi snub
I could list approximately a million cult classic sci-fi and otherwise weird and wacky movies that were snubbed at the Oscars here. Admittedly, the critical acclaim Gravity has won so far makes it seem a bit more of a legitimate contender, but I’ll just enlighten you with a few examples here:
– In 1983 Blade Runner didn’t win a single Oscar, and was nominated for just 2 (Art Direction and Visual Effects).
– In 1969 Oliver! Won Best Picture and Best Director. That was the year of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, which won only for Visual Effects (incidentally the only Academy Award Kubrick would ever win).
– The most shocking of them all: the 57th Academy Awards saw Stevie Wonder unjustly take the Best Original Song statuette for ‘I Just Called to Say I Love You’. Anyone with ears and/or a brain knows that award belonged to ‘Ghostbusters’.

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