Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The Gravity of Our Situation

Well, I guess it's settled. Sandra Bullock will be nominated for this year's Best Actress Oscar. She may not win it, but she has to be the frontrunner. How many actresses this year have carried over 80% of the screen time in a truly groundbreaking film where they more or less play the part of all humanity with its frailty and resiliency? Ballpark figure: one.

She even does it without pretending she can whoop the ass of every man or that her beauty at middle age is the same as two decades ago. Leave that to the normal breed of Hollywood bimbo. Who knew that one need not be portrayed as a genius prodigy or sparkling model to captivate an audience? Apparently Sandra did. Maybe Forrest Gump tipped her off. It seems that a passionate, frightened, middle-of-the-bell-curve human can be quite gripping.

Of course, it helps when you have stunning camerawork effects keeping the viewers reeling most of the time the film is unreeling. Nor does it hurt to have Mexican writer/director Alfonso Cuaron injecting the beating heart and hungering soul usually absent in both Hollywood and space movies. Plus, it's damn refreshing when a film is heartfelt without camping in the cheese zone.

Nevertheless, what really makes Gravity a hit is its gravity. This is not in a galaxy far far away, but space we all occupy. We all begin life's journey in a fetal position with cords attaching us to our life pods. Though we cling to the warmth of community and relationships, like George Clooney grapples to hold the team and the craft together, life pulls each of us toward that inevitable moment when we will lose contact with earth and drift off into the outer darkness.

Why is Sandra Bullock just exactly right for this whirling and floating existential reflection? Because the human situation does not so much require deep analysis as it does guts and spirit. Sandra exudes these without hysterics in Gravity. Let's see if she does the same in an Oscar acceptance speech. The next time Houston isn't responding, Sandra, call me.