Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Best Actress 2013: Sandra Bullock in Gravity

Sandra Bullock received her 2nd Oscar nomination for playing Dr. Ryan Stone in Gravity.

Although Cate Blanchett has been far and away the frontrunner for most of the season, Sandra Bullock was considered her strongest competition given the difficulty of the role and the fact that Gravity was such a blockbuster hit that seemed destined to get Oscar attention (Which of course, it did).  But Blanchett has had such a strong lead throughout the season and the SAG was really Bullock's last real chance to knock her off her pedestal. Although we never know until the envelope is opened, I doubt Sandra Bullock's name will be in it. But never say never :).

Anyways, Gravity is certainly one of the best movie experiences of the year. Alfonso Cuaron has made one of the most innovative and gripping movies in a while.  His direction is fantastic and  a win would be very deserving. The amount of fear that I and the rest of the audience had for Bullock and Clooney was the kind of on the edge fear that I haven't felt for a while.  Unfortunately, the script is underwritten and filled with unbelieveable and annoying cliches.  With such a well made film that's focus isn't really plot, I guess it doesn't really matter, but I personally felt the film could have been a masterpiece if it had developed it's plot more and started on earth or developed the characters in space more before plunging straight into the action.

The film is about Dr. Ryan Stone and her crew who are conducting experiments in space until suddenly , pieces of debree from the Russian's fly off and hit them,  leaving many of the crew dead and Bullock (SPOILER ALERT!) eventually told to leave Clooney's character and save herself, which she eventually does.

Sandra Bullock pulls off what is probably her best performance: She beautifully develops her character, having Dr. Ryan Stone go through all the various emotions the film requires to go through, her biggest success being she never relies on the special effects, instead creating a real character.  I could feel the fear and  panic she had when going through space, and I could feel the fear for her as well.  Bullock shows how Ryan has never been the type of person to have been prepared for THIS type of situation and we see Ryan's journey from  being highly  unsure and inexperienced to  having the confidence to pull off finally getting back to earth.  I think her best moments  are when she is all alone in the escape pod, thinking she is going to die and wanting to.  These scenes are kind of Oscar bait scenes, but Bullock plays it so well that it doesn't really matter.  When she finally  decides to go back to earth, Bullock wonderfully shows the strength that Ryan now has, as well as the determination that she has to succeed.

But I don't quite think Bullock is perfection here: The script holds her back in a lot of ways such as the fact that some of the scenes are cliched and as I've said, Oscar baity. We also never get to know hardly anything about Stone's background.  We get vague hints from her discussions with Clooney (Whose charascter is totally unbelievable, BTW), but we never really know who this woman is. Which is a pity, because  Bullock could have been amazing.

But what Sandra Bullock does in the part is certainly great work and I don't want to disregard any of it. She gives a powerfully emotional performance which is able to rise above  the trap of being totally held by the script and she gets


Louis Morgan said...

I like her a lot as she carries the film beautifully and is not completely overshadowed by the spectacle.

I do agree the script is definitely underwritten, but I never felt it took away from her performance.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with your review here. She was fantastic in showing the character's emotional development and transformation. I though the earlier scenes were equally great as well, the way she portrayed this quiet, suppressed woman who'd rather fully immerse herself in her work in order to forget about the personal tragedy in her life.

Having said that, I think I like her as an actress much more than most people do. Not that I think she's a great one, but I really like her personality and the way she doesn't take herself too seriously in her comedic roles.

dinasztie said...

I disagree: this IS a masterpiece. The screenplay was not even of secondary importance here. The whole thing was more of a metaphor. It really is a revolutionary movie for me that should easily beat both 12 Years a Slave and American Hustle, which are not as good combined as Gravity is alone.

I'm not revealing anything about my opinion on Sandra, but you can have a guess. ;)

joe burns said...

Louis: I like her a lot as well. I just thought she could have been even better with stronger material.

Normalityandbanality: Glad we agree! I also really like her as an actress, for exactly the same reasons you listed. Just not in The Blind Side, lol.

Dinasztie: Glad to see you back! I think I can...

I guess we'll just have to disagree on Gravity. I think both those films are vastly superior.