Oscar Beat TIFF 2013: Alfonso Cuaron’s Marvelous GRAVITY Looks to Make Big Waves During Awards Season

     September 8, 2013


Director Alfonso Cuaron has been working on Gravity for over four years.  The film is not just a passion project, it’s a herculean endeavor.  In order to accomplish the visual effects necessary to tell the space-set story, Cuaron and his cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki had to invent new ways to shoot the picture.  It’s been a long time coming, but the film is finally hitting theaters next month and the question on everyone’s mind is: will it be worth the wait?  Having just seen the film earlier today in IMAX 3D at the Toronto International Film Festival, I can wholeheartedly answer, “Hell yes.”

A masterful piece of filmmaking, Gravity is almost certain to have a major presence in this year’s awards season, as the film looks poised to pic up numerous Academy Award nominations.  Hit the jump for my full rundown of the film’s Oscar prospects in this special TIFF edition of Oscar Beat.

gravity-sandra-bullock-2The space-set dramatic thriller opens with a 20-minute opening shot.  Yes, that’s right.  The film does not cut for a nearly 20 minutes, as we’re introduced to the space setting and two astronauts: Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) and Matt Kowalsky (George Clooney).  The two are doing some work on the Hubble telescope when they suddenly find themselves in a dire situation, and the ensuing 80 minutes are as unrelenting as they are awe-inspiring.  The less you know about Gravity going in the better, but suffice it to say that Cuaron and Lubezki have crafted a magnificent work of cinema that will literally make your jaw drop.

I like to think I’m pretty well versed in the mechanics of filmmaking, but I have absolutely no idea how Gravity is possible.  The seamless filmmaking masks any tell-tale signs of visual effects, and the result completely immerses the audience in the vastness of space; you will feel like you’re right there along with Stone and Kowalsky as the film’s events play out, which only heightens the terror and tension.  There is no sound in space, so Cuaron works with his sound engineers to ensure that all of the noise is heard as if you were inside one of the astronauts’ helmets.  The precision and detail with which Gravity has been put together is truly astounding.

At the same time, the film feels incredibly intimate thanks to the excellent script by Alfonso Cuaron and his son Jonas Cuaron, which works in concert with the filmmaking techniques to evoke some really strong themes.  As marvelous as Gravity is to behold visually, it’s also an extremely emotional experience thanks to a terrifically brave and strong performance from Bullock.

gravity-sandra-bullockGravity has already drawn strong marks from its screenings at the Venice and Telluride film festivals, and its equally enthusiastic response from TIFF ensures that it will be a very serious contender in the Oscar race.  The pic is highly likely to nab nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, Best Cinematography, Best Visual Effects, Best Sound Design, and Best Sound Mixing.  The craftsmanship in this film is just breathtaking, and I don’t see how the Academy could ignore the insane sound, camera, and VFX work, not to mention the incredible performance from Bullock and Cuaron’s genius vision that made everything possible.

Gravity might also nab nominations for Steven Price’s powerful score and Alfonso and Jonas’ deft script, though I’ll feel more comfortable with those predictions once a wider array of responses floods in.  I know it’s still way too early to call favorites, but if the Oscars were being held next month I think Gravity and 12 Years a Slave would be sweeping the entire ceremony.  Luckily you don’t have to wait long to see it yourself, as the film opens on October 4th in both traditional and IMAX 3D theaters, though I highly recommend experiencing it in the IMAX 3D format.

Click here to catch up on all of our TIFF coverage thus far, and peruse the rest of the TIFF Oscar Beat articles below:


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