Tuesday, January 28, 2014

GRAVITY - 10 nominations


Actress in a Leading Role - Sandra Bullock
Best Picture - Alfonso Cuaron and David Heyman, Producers
Cinematography - Emmanuel Lubezki
Directing - Alfonso Cuaron
Film Editing - Alfonso Cuaron and Mark Sanger
Music (Original Score) - Steven Price
Production Design - Andy Nicholson (Production Design) and Rosie Goodwin, Joanne Woolard (Set Decoration)
Sound Editing - Glenn Freemantle
Sound Mixing - Skip Lievsay, Greg Orloff and Peer F. Kurland
Visual Effects - Tim Webber, Chris Lawrence, David Shirk and Neil Corbould

There is so much to say about Gravity, that I hardly know where to begin.  Its impressive list of nominations reflect the power of the story and what it means to persevere.  Ironically the film is "All is Lost" in space, where the lead character finds herself faced by challenge after challenge, trying losing strategy after losing strategy, and being left with only her wits and some space stuff to devise a way back to earth, even though she is not a pilot.  And the stakes are a little higher than All is Lost, given that the reality of space travel requires air, reentry on the right path and a myriad other scientific technicalities that I couldn't begin to describe or imagine.

There is a reason that there is no nomination for Screenplay - as good as the movie is, and as tense as we feel watching it, the dialogue is actually not that good and there are scenes where Sandra Bullock's lines are so cliche that I had to restrain myself from giggling, even though she is as good as she can be (and that's good).  Also, let's not forget that Neil DeGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist extraordinaire took to Twitter to debunk much of the film's science (not the least of which is why Bullock's character, a medical doctor, would be repairing the Hubble telescope), though he has since clarified to say that he loved the movie and thought that the scenario of flying debris hurling through space to knock out all the other hardware in space was very realistic.  Here's a good article summarizing Tyson's tweets, my favorite being, "should be called Zero Gravity."  He's a scholar and a jokester.

In general, I'm not a fan of 3-D and consider it to be a waste of money.  Prior to this, I'd seen two films where the added 4 bucks were actually worth it - Avatar and Life of Pi.  This film is so visually stunning that seeing Gravity without the 3-D is to have missed a good portion of the film's worth, and the music is the perfect score to complement the moments of quiet.  I can only imagine yoga teachers across the land are now using these pieces of music for their classes.

Now we reach the Cinematography discussion.  In short, the art of cinematography is the combined work of camera and lighting supervised by the Director of Photography (DP), which means that the work must turn out impressive visually to be successful.  It's one of the areas of movie making that requires both artistic vision and technical skill.  The question is, does Gravity yield its beauty through camera and lighting work, or more through visual and digital effects?  The last four Oscar winners in this category honored "hybrid" movies, so Gravity's chances are good.  But is it right?  I'll leave that to you to decide.  For some help, I've included two articles - one clearly pro and one clearly against.  You choose!  For the record, I say no - if you can "move the sun" to achieve your shot, you're doing something incredible and innovative, but it's not exactly cinematography.

Gravity is absolutely worthy of the Best Picture nomination; all of its nominations are well deserved.  All of its elements combine into a stunning film that hopefully is making our scientists prepare for the worst (if I can't get on Facebook because of flying debris knocking down all of our satellites, there will be hell to pay, and oh yeah, all of our computer systems, utilities, and government secrets, etc.).  I'm a fan.

Haven't see the film?
Watch the Gravity Movie Trailer

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