Earlier today (Sunday, 12.8) Deadline posted an “Oscars q & a” between Pete Hammond and Gravity star Sandra Bullock, and out of this came a curious admission by Bullock. Without making a big deal out of it and with no prompting by Hammond, Bullock said that Gravity “was supposed to be an amusement ride for the viewer.”
This strikes me as a classic “obiter dicta” bomb, or words in passing that give the game away.
We all have different reasons for deciding that a given film deserves a Best Picture Oscar, but usually they have something to do with a presumption of serious (or at least semi-serious) artful intent on some level, as a reflection or condensation of life as we know it, rendered with a certain poignance or social resonance and particularly with the viewer being touched or moved or turned around by it.
Everyone agrees that Gravity is a technical-visual knockout (I called it a “ride movie” after I first saw it in Telluride), but I’m trying to remember the last time a Best Picture contender, much less a likely winner, was described by its lead actor as “an amusement ride.”
Hammond (a.k.a., Awards Line): “How do you handle the technical details and still focus on playing your character?”
Bullock: “You develop the character with the director, who she is and who she’s not. But in this case, I had to keep asking Alfonso, ‘What are you telling visually in this story that I don’t need to chew the scenery around? If I don’t have to speak and you’re doing something musically, visually or with sound that’s going to tell the story, let me know.’ And we didn’t want to tell too much of a story. This was supposed to be an amusement ride for the viewer. It’s almost like a book. When you read a book, you’re able to feel things and experience them in your own personal way that you don’t get to do too much in movies. That’s what we wanted this to be.”