The 'surprise' hit of the season (for everyone but us Brits' who have had to wait what feels like an age for it) is Alfonso Cuaron's sci-fi spectacular Gravity.
But it's not Alfonso Cuaron who deserves the most credit. In fact it's his right hand man, Emmanuel Lubezki, who steals the show, the film and pretty much everything else. The man is a genius. We've all seen what he's accomplished in his Oscar-nominated works in Children of Men, in which he was teamed up with Cuarón, and Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life, both of which resulted in unimaginable losses. Here, however, he brings something even better. A 13-minute opening shot shows his abilities to capture the essence of the now, the feelings that life offers. Real life doesn't cut, Cuarón and Lubezki understand this. The liberties where he chooses to take us, even when we step inside from the cold, lonely edge of space, manages to turn this very simple tale into a full-fledged meditation session with the sooth sounds of composer Steven Price.
And it is a very simple tale. I find it fascinating that this film was picked up by Warner Bros because essentially, at it's core, it's a B-movie. Gravity may look like a Hollywood blockbuster but it's far from it. The themes, characters and script are anything but mainstream. It's ninety minute running time is something to be desired too. It just goes to show that they've had a simple idea and they've just gone with it, which is why I love this film. The script is beyond simple, but it's tight and there's not an ounce that I'd change of it. There's not a single shred that's wasted. The script may be simple, but it's themes aren't. (Unlike Avatar).
Visual effects have never been put to better use than what you will witness in Gravity. One of the few films I urge everyone to see on the biggest screen possible. The 3D is absolutely outstanding. I don't often like 3D, but this has to be seen in 3D. It adds to the story and the drama. An IMAX 3D screen - the largest you can find - with a sound system able to make your eardrums bleed. Those are the basic requirements. Do it for yourself as a film fan. It's a must.
I haven't been in this much awe of a film's quality and optics since I saw Terminator 2: Judgment Day when I was six years old. Avatar and Life of Pi are great spectacles, but this will be revisited in years to come as the bench mark for modern day science fiction. It's this generation's 2001: A Space Odyssey.
It's more Kubrick than Cameron, thankfully. It explores themes that are heartbreaking and it's characters are complex. George Clooney and Sandra Bullock are incredible. The latter is especially stunning in a role that channels Alien's Ripley as if re-imagined by Tarkovsky. Natural, poised, and fully engulfed, Bullock is absolutely magnificent and in many ways, my favorite performance of the year so far. She rallies an emotional connection from the audience and demands things of herself that she hasn't done before. An Oscar-worthy work that should land her as a Best Actress nominee...and perhaps a winner.
Gravity was utterly spectacular. Beautiful, serene and peaceful moments juxtaposed by uncomfortable tense action. I just spent 90 minutes in space courtesy of Alfonso Cuaron and co.
Simplistic but so refreshingly new. Visually, it will be studied for years to come, and thematically, will be revisited by the genre's most ardent enthusiasts. This is what was imagined by the Lumière brothers, it's truly breathtaking.
The best film I've seen this year.