With the exception of Ratatouille and Pan’s Labyrinth, Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity is the highest ranked mainstream film in recent memory — having received an astonishing 96 rating on Metacritic with a whopping 47 critics ringing in. Moreover, it has received 27 scores of 100. That’s just a smidge higher than last year’s top-ranked Zero Dark Thirty, which had 26 scores of 100 for an overall average of 95. That makes Gravity the de facto critics darling and surely the one to beat come December when the New York Film Critics and the Los Angeles Film Critics ring in.
Sure to be right up there in this year’s pantheon will be the Coen brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis and Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave. It is extremely rare these days to get such high scores, especially nowadays when it seems like a handful of critics can always find something to complain about. Gravity has received high praise from almost all of the major critics and is set to make a lot of cash at the box office. What does that mean for Best Picture? Well, a movie like this would have to make history to win, not just because it’s 3D and takes place in space — but because it only features two characters. Usually the ensemble drives the victory for Best Picture.
Kenneth Turan, LA Times:
No one has more screen time in “Gravity” than Bullock, and no one makes better use of it. Her bleak working conditions in this effects-heavy film demanded physical dexterity and the ability to withstand long periods of isolation, but through it all her gift for connecting with an audience, so essential for this kind of film, never fails her.
Director James Cameron is one of the small number of people thanked at the end of “Gravity,” and this couldn’t be more appropriate. His groundbreaking “Avatar” opened the book on the modern artistic use of 3-D, and this film is the next chapter — the most accomplished, persuasive use of that technology we’ve seen from then until now.
Ann Hornaday, Washington Post:
And it is. But when an artist of the caliber of Alfonso Cuarón is at the helm, “Gravity” not only delivers on its promise of a wildly entertaining space adventure, but also becomes a groundbreaking addition to a genre already defined for the ages by the likes of Like Stanley Kubrick before him, Cuarón is a master of the cinematic medium as both pop and high art; there are few filmmakers with his instinctive facility for long, bravura camera movements, breathtaking scope and taut storytelling (despite its ambition and sprawling canvas, this expertly edited film clocks in at a crisp hour and a half). Thanks to Cuarón’s prodigious gifts, “Gravity” succeeds simultaneously as a simple classic shipwreck narrative (albeit at zero-gravity), and as an utterly breathtaking restoration of size and occasion to the movies themselves.
EW’s Owen Gleiberman:
The ebb and flow of Gravity‘s story is deeply organic — it seems to be making itself up as it goes along, and that’s how it hooks us. Yet what sustains our absorption is a rather tricky synthesis between our involvement in the characters’ plight and our head-scratching wonder at the matter-of-fact way that the film brings the physical realities of space to life: the sheer cosmic terror of it, the images of satellites cluttered with drifting matter, from chess rooks to tears. The actors are phenomenal. Clooney shows a haunting chivalry beneath his bluster, and Bullock is as desperate and resourceful and anxious and brave as Sigourney Weaver in the last half of Alien. When Stone wriggles, slowly, out of her space suit, we realize that we’re seeing a tale of rebirth, and Bullock’s acting attains a new purity. She floats through this movie yet grounds it, letting Gravity connect with all of us these days who feel just a little adrift.
Rolling Stone’s Peter Travers gives it the rare four stars:
A great movie is hard to define. So let Gravity do it for you. With enthralling detail, it offers thrills, humor, dazzle, disaster, poetic vision and mythic reach. Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey set the bar for philosophical exploration of an unknowable universe by gazing outward. With deceptive simplicity, Gravity looks inward at something closer at hand but just as profound: the intricacies of the human heart.
The raves go on and on…