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Countdown to the Oscars 14’ – Best Picture Nominees (‘Gravity’)

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Some may wonder why I only focus on just the Best Picture nominees. Well, it’s simple really; between just the nine films nominated for Best Picture, they carry 61 nominations across most of the categories, accounting for 50 percent of all nominations. That’s shocking, when you figure there are only 121 nominations among all 57 films nominated. But numbers do speak louder than words and here they only support my notion that it’s these nine films holding all the cards come Oscar night. And keep in mind, these films weren’t even eligible for categories featuring documentaries and shorts. Erase those nominations from the equation and that percentage would go from 50 percent to 60 percent in a hurry. So, it’s fairly clear to see why these films matter the most in the grand scheme of things and why I will be showcasing them over the next three weeks. And to help get this Oscar express moving is a film I never expected to make this list, "Gravity."

Might as well start with a film nominated for 10 awards, tying fellow Best Picture nominee, "American Hustle," for first. And what’s funny is how few people probably watched it and walked out thinking Best Picture. I know I didn’t, but can clearly see why people are making that leap given how "Gravity" felt and looked. Because it was all you could handle for the better part of 91 minutes thanks to some crafty work behind the camera by Alfonso Cuaron. Don’t worry; I had no clue who he was either until I looked him up on IMDB.com. Sure, his name seemed familiar, which I guess is from when he directed one of the "Harry Potter" films, but that’s it. And really, he hadn’t done a whole lot since, which still makes me wonder how he got this gig. But, I’m glad he did because I can’t imagine anyone else doing a better job after experiencing this film in 3-D on the big screen. All the long takes and tight shots in and out of the space pods were incredible to watch and that’s to the credit of Cuarón, who wanted this film to be as realistic as ever. Sure, there might have been quite a bit of CGI and special effects, but it was used well and at no point, did you question what was going on. That not only shows you how technically sound this film was, but supports its nominations for ‘Directing,’ ‘Film Editing,’ ‘Production Design,’ ‘ Sound Editing,’ ‘Sound Mixing,’ "Visual Effects’ and ‘Cinematography.’

Ahh, yes, cinematography, one of my favorite categories that tends to get pushed under the rug as merely a contributor is the reason why this film is even in the mix. Of course, many aren’t even aware of the true meaning of cinematography and all that goes along with it. The basic definition of cinematography is simply ‘the technique of making motion pictures.’ In other words, there’s a specific person or crew who is in charge of the overall quality of light and photography as it pertains to a particular shot. Cinematography has to be near perfect for a film to succeed in my mind, which is why I highlight it every year. Because light and contrast can truly set the tone and emotion in a story, so much so that it can make the transition between scenes smooth and flawless. That’s the essence of "Gravity" and why it will easily walk home with not only the Oscar for Cinematography, but also Visual Effects, Sound Editing and Sound Mixing. That’s four, possibly five out of ten wins right there, which would rise if voters agreed with James Cameron’s statement that this was the "best space film ever made." And while I chuckled when I first read that, this film did manage to find that balance between the story and effects that are believable, a combination many sci-fi filmmakers have failed to produce.

There’s no way it wins Best Picture though, simply due to the competition and the fact its science fiction. To date, no sci-fi has ever won Best Picture, which if you think about it is not all that surprising given the genre, but still a fact worth mentioning. It might win for Original Score though, as the soundtrack to this film helped keep you on the edge of your seat from start to finish. I just don’t know if it was enough to upset a film like "Her" or "The Book Thief," which seemed to rely on the soundtrack so much more. Having said that, the 10th and final nomination for Best Actress will be a tough one to win at the end of the night. And that has more to do with the other nominees than Sandra Bullock, who I’m not a big fan of. But, I was impressed with what she was able to do in this role, one she probably deserves to have an Oscar for instead of the one turned in for "The Blind Side" in 2009. Fact is, I could have hand-picked a few other actresses for it that would have probably done the same job she did, but those handful of actresses had to pass due to scheduling conflicts. That opened the door for Bullock, who handled it well, proving to me she can occupy herself without anyone else on screen with her. And who knows, maybe that’s enough for her to become someone I don’t mind seeing attached to a film like this.

CLICK HERE to read my original, uncut review on "Gravity"

CLICK HERE to find out which Oscar contenders are playing at a box office near you

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