Following rapturous receptions at the Venice and Telluride filmfests, Alfonso Cuaron‘s “Gravity” received the same response when it unspooled at the Toronto filmfest on Sunday. The 3-D epic stars 2009 Best Actress champ Sandra Bullock and two-time Oscar winner George Clooney as astronauts stranded in space.
The helmer pushed back the opening of the picture by a year to work on the jaw-dropping visual effects and the wait was well worth it. His surprisingly intimate movie looks to be a major player at this year’s Oscars, and is likely to reap nine noms including a bid for Best Picture.
Cuaron — who lost his 2006 writing and editing Oscar bids for “Children of Men” to “The Departed” — is in fourth place on our Best Director chart, two spots ahead of Clooney for “The Monuments Men.” While the latter is a longshot to contend for his supporting performace in “Gravity,” Bullock — who is alone on-screen for most of the movie’s 90 minutes — is a formidable contender for Best Actress.
Lenser Emmanuel Lubezki, who reaped one of his five Oscar bids for “Children of Men,” could well win this time around for his stunning use of 3D and IMAX. Indeed, the last four Cinematography prizes have gone to 3D films.
Two men who are relatively new to their crafts are expected to pick up their first Oscar nominations: Mark Sanger who edited the film with Cuaron and composer Steven Price. While the movie opens with a 17-minute uninterrupted shot, once the action begins, the quick cuts are relentless. Likewise, the score punctuates key moments in Bullock’s fight for survival.
Not surprisingly, given their impressive levels of achievement, the sound editing, sound mixing and visual effects teams are all frontrunners in their respective races.
Buoyed by the rave reviews, will Cuaron — who also co-wrote the sparse screenplay with his son Jonas — move up the ranks of the Best Director race? Vote below using our easy drag-and-drop menu.