Oscar Watch: Gravity

In this series, I look at the major Oscar nominated films and their chances of taking home gold. It is more an analysis of the Awards than it is the film’s quality, though some commentary on that is also included. Enjoy!

Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity soared higher than most expected, and is now widely considered the greatest blockbuster-style entertainment in a decade. As such, expect the film, which is nominated for 10 Academy Awards, to see plenty of gold come Oscar night.

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Gravity is destined to sweep Oscar’s technical categories, but could sneak in and take home Oscar’s top prize.

The last truly great crowd-pleasing blockbuster, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, took home a whopping 11 Oscars in 2003, including Best Picture, a first for a fantasy film. Gravity certainly could sweep this year’s awards ceremony, but I’m predicting a performance similar to last year’s Life of Pi.

Pi had some early Best Picture buzz, but ended up losing out to Argo, 2012’s prestigious historical drama. Thus continued the trend of the technically audacious crowd-pleaser losing out to the prestige picture (see: The Artist vs. Hugo, The Hurt Locker vs. Avatar, etc.). Still, Pi took home 4 awards, including Best Cinematography, Best Visual Effects, Best Score and Best Director for Ang Lee.

That Best Director win is particularly important, as Gravity looks poised to repeat not only a technical sweep, but also a Best Director win. Cuaron won at the Golden Globes, and has been seen as the frontrunner ever since. Not only is he richly deserving, but he would also be the first Latino filmmaker to win the award, and the Academy likes breaking historical barriers such as race.

The film is a shoo-in for the sound and visual effects categories, but the other big question is Sandra Bullock lead performance. As Ryan Stone, a woman whose lost-in-space adventure reveals some deeper anxieties about loss of faith and the ability to go on in a world that seems cold and indifferent to our existence, she provided an expertly emotional and physical performance that she’s never come close to before. Bullock did win an Oscar for her role in The Blind Side, and this role is much better. But, the acting categories are particularly stacked this year, and she has to go up against frontrunner Cate Blanchett and hot star Amy Adams. Many other years, I think Bullock’s award will be a given.

But Gravity will likely lose the night’s big prize to this year’s prestige picture, 12 Years a Slave, and Ann Thompson at Indie wire explains why.

“I argue that the reason that 12 Years a Slave will prevail over all countervailing trends is that the Academy thinks about how they want to be represented to the world. It’s not just what movie they like best. It’s what movie they want to like best.”

Nonetheless, Gravity remains a richly rewarding experience that deserves any and every award it scoops up. 

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