In 2006, Cuaron released the uber-realistic sci-fi Children of Men, a film where a yet-to-be-born child is the ray of light in the soon-to-be-extinct dark world. With the help of Emmanuel Lubezki, Children of Men had incredible, almost dreamlike shots stretching into ranges of up to four minutes. Since seven years have passed between Men and Gravity, expectations have been unrealistically high.
Right from the film's first fifteen minutes, both Cuaron and Lubezki outdo themselves. Gravity begins with a shot that is fourteen minutes in length, beginning with the calm of space and ending with the destruction of a space shuttle from space shrapnel. The shot is not jumpy and all-over-the-place, but instead calm and graceful.
The main reason I wanted to see Gravity was for Lubezki's insane cinematography, but nothing prepared me for Sandra Bullock's work in the film. She is a nervous, newbie space researcher who, with veteran George Clooney, is stranded in space for as long as her oxygen lasts. Clooney is charming, but he has no emotional weight compared to the stuff that Bullock is packing. With Cate Blanchett also in contention, I really don't know who should win this year's Oscar, but I can say for sure that Bullock is a serious contender.
Everything about Gravity is great. I was skeptical about the film's screenplay since Bullock was to be carrying the lion's share of the film. I thought it would be mostly silence, with the occasional cry for help. Instead, Alfonso and his son Jonas create real human beings, stuff that Children of Men needed more of. If I were to nitpick the film for anything, it is that the film feels almost like a videogame at many times, as it is very routine and procedure-like in its drama. I couldn't have crafted a film any better.
Buckle your seatbelts, start the car, and drive to Las Vegas right now, because there would be no harm at all in voting Gravity as this year's bonafide Cinematography, Sound Editing/Mixing, Visual Effects, and Editing winners.