It’s no secret that Science Fiction doesn’t get the respect it deserves in the Academy. Some of the best films ever created have been given the shaft in favor of more story-friendly, dramatic structures. It’s interesting that looking back at when George Lucas‘ “Star Wars” was released and embraced in a big way from the Academy, nabbing ten Oscar nominations and winning six, including a Special Achievement Award, they passed over it for the light-hearted “Annie Hall” from Woody Allen. We always complain that comedy doesn’t get its due, but alas here is trumping the spectacle of Luke Skywalker and his friends. It’s also the same year that Herbert Ross’ “The Turning Point” made Academy history by losing all eleven of its nominations. A record that would be tied eight years later with Steven Spielberg’s “The Color Purple.”
This weekend, Alfonso Cuaron’s space thriller “Gravity” is unleashed to audiences around the country. Sandra Bullock still resonates fondly in my mind, stapling herself firmly next to Cate Blanchett and Julie Delpy as one of the year’s finest performances by a Lead Actress. Gearing up to play on IMAX and 3D screens, the film is being well-received by critics around the world. Sitting comfortably and strong at 97% on Rotten Tomatoes, could the film be able to achieve the impossible? It wasn’t until Stanley Kubrick‘s “A Clockwork Orange” from 1971 that a Science Fiction film was even nominated for Best Picture.
Other milestones will be made with a film like “Gravity” topping any Oscar ceremony. Cuaron will be representing for the Hispanic community in a big way. He would be the fourth Hispanic (Mexican) to be nominated for Best Director following Alejandro González Iñárritu‘s nomination for “Babel.” He would also be the fourth Producer if he’s deemed eligible.
Before anyone chalks this up to simply an effects driven spectacle, the power in “Gravity” exists in Cuaron’s direction and Sandra Bullock‘s extraordinary performance. It also helps that Alfonso, along with son Jonas, put together a tight and clever screenplay. I believe “Gravity” is more than the effects, though those are the most obvious things to take with you. There’s not anymore that can be said about Cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki that hasn’t already been said and the Visual Effects will surely plow through the season with many citations along the way.
“Gravity” should be taken seriously in its naturalistic behaviors it exhibits. It’s not just cheap parlor tricks and at 90 minutes, it does some pretty amazing things thematically. It’s smaller than one would think a Science Fiction film to be. There’s an intimate feel about floating through space, getting to know these characters, though mostly one, and what you can learn about ourselves. An auteur like Cuaron spends lots of time on the surroundings but gives Bullock the tools to react to them with gestures and feelings. History can be made this year in several ways and Cuaron’s film is no exception.
I predict the film for about ten nominations, including Best Picture. It’s firmly in the race next to films like “12 Years a Slave” and “Captain Phillips.” Keep your eye on the prize. Random thoughts.