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Oscar Gets It Right: Gravity Cleans Up But Doesn’t Snag Best Picture

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GravityBigLast night we looked back at the various science flicks over the years that have been nominated for, but failed to win, the Academy Award for Best Picture. Hell, in 2009 science fiction accounted for two of the Best Picture nominees — James Cameron’s Avatar and Neill Blomkamp’s District 9. They both lost out to The Hurt Locker, but it was still a noteworthy milestone. Last night it was a sci-fi two-fer once again, with both Gravity and Her up for the big award. Once again they both lost out for Best Picture, but let’s face it: Oscar got it right this time.

There was little question that Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity was going to clean up when it came to awards honoring technical achievements, and indeed it pretty much swept those. Gravity took home trophies for Cinematography, Film Editing, Original Score, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, and Visual Effects. Cuaron himself also won the Best Director award. All of those were well deserved, because Gravity was unquestionably a stunning technical achievement. There were plenty of scientific nits to be picked, but on the big screen — especially if you saw it in IMAX and/or 3D — it was a dizzying, jaw-dropping thrill ride that was well worth the higher ticket price.

What it was not, however, was a particularly great story. Sandra Bullock gave a fine performance in the lead role of Dr. Ryan Stone, but the character isn’t one people are still going to be talking about a decade from now. The bare-bones story exists primarily as one chaotic set piece after another, with the odd slower moment just to give audiences a breather. I can definitely get behind Cuaron’s Best Director win simply for being the evil genius who masterminded Gravity’s cinematic acrobatics, but there’s no way the film deserved Best Picture, especially when it was up against flicks like Captain Phillips and 12 Years a Slave, the latter of which did take home the Best Picture trophy.

Her, on the other hand, pulled off a surprise win by conquering the Best Original Screenplay category. It was up against American Hustle, Blue Jasmine, Dallas Buyers Club, and Nebraska. This was one category where I was out of touch this year, because the only one of the nominees I have seen was Her, but this was still a bit of a head-scratcher for me. Her was okay, but the best original movie story of the year? Hmm. Maybe it was just a very mediocre year when it comes to original screenplays…

There were plenty of Oscar travesties over the years — 2001 not earning a Best Picture nomination, for one — but when it came to Gravity I think justice was served and it was honored in the categories where it was deserving of that praise.

And hey, maybe the sequel will do better. Coming in 2016, Gravity 2: Cruise Control

Here’s the full list of nominees and winners for your perusal.

BEST PICTURE

  • American Hustle
  • Captain Phillips
  • Dallas Buyers Club
  • Gravity
  • Her
  • Nebraska
  • Philomena
  • 12 Years a Slave
  • The Wolf of Wall Street

BEST DIRECTOR

  • David O. Russell (American Hustle)
  • Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity)
  • Alexander Payne (Nebraska)
  • Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave)
  • Martin Scorsese (The Wolf of Wall Street)

BEST ACTOR

  • Christian Bale (American Hustle)
  • Bruce Dern (Nebraska)
  • Leonardo DiCaprio (The Wolf of Wall Street)
  • Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave)
  • Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club)

BEST ACTRESS

  • Amy Adams (American Hustle)
  • Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)
  • Sandra Bullock (Gravity)
  • Judi Dench (Philomena)
  • Meryl Streep (August: Osage County)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

  • Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips)
  • Bradley Cooper (American Hustle)
  • Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave)
  • Jonah Hill (The Wolf of Wall Street)
  • Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

  • Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine)
  • Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle)
  • Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave)
  • Julia Roberts (August: Osage County)
  • June Squibb (Nebraska)

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

  • Before Midnight
  • Captain Phillips
  • Philomena
  • 12 Years a Slave
  • The Wolf of Wall Street

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

  • American Hustle
  • Blue Jasmine
  • Dallas Buyers Club
  • Her
  • Nebraska

ANIMATED FEATURE

  • The Croods
  • Despicable Me 2
  • Ernest & Celestine
  • Frozen
  • The Wind Rises

FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

  • The Broken Circle Breakdown
  • The Great Beauty
  • The Hunt
  • The Missing Picture
  • Omar

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

  • The Act of Killing
  • Cutie and the Boxer
  • Dirty Wars
  • The Square
  • 20 Feet from Stardom

CINEMATOGRAPHY

  • The Grandmaster
  • Gravity
  • Inside Llewyn Davis
  • Nebraska
  • Prisoners

COSTUME DESIGN

  • American Hustle
  • The Grandmaster
  • The Great Gatsby
  • The Invisible Woman
  • 12 Years a Slave

FILM EDITING

  • American Hustle
  • Captain Phillips
  • Dallas Buyers Club
  • Gravity
  • 12 Years a Slave

MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING

  • Dallas Buyers Club
  • Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa
  • The Lone Ranger

PRODUCTION DESIGN

  • American Hustle
  • Gravity
  • The Great Gatsby
  • Her
  • 12 Years a Slave

ORIGINAL SCORE

  • The Book Thief (John Williams)
  • Gravity (Steven Price)
  • Her (William Butler, Owen Pallett)
  • Philomena (Alexandre Desplat)
  • Saving Mr. Banks (Thomas Newman)

ORIGINAL SONG

  • Happy (Despicable Me 2)
  • Let It Go (Frozen)
  • The Moon Song (Her)
  • Ordinary Love (Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom)

SOUND EDITING

  • All is Lost
  • Captain Phillips
  • Gravity
  • The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
  • Lone Survivor

SOUND MIXING

  • Captain Phillips
  • Gravity
  • The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
  • Inside Llewyn Davis
  • Lone Survivor

VISUAL EFFECTS

  • Gravity
  • The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
  • Iron Man 3
  • The Lone Ranger
  • Star Trek Into Darkness

ANIMATED SHORT

  • Ferel
  • Get a Horse
  • Mr. Hublot
  • Possessions
  • Room on the Broom

LIVE ACTION SHORT

  • Aquel No Era Yo (That Wasn’t Me)
  • Avant Que De Tout Perdre (Just Before Losing Everything)
  • Helium
  • Pitaako Mun Kaikki Hoitas (Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?)
  • The Voorman Problem

DOCUMENTARY SHORT

  • CaveDigger
  • Facing Fear
  • Karama Has No Walls
  • The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life
  • Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall

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