Candice Bergen on Sandra Bullock as Dr. Ryan Stone in “Gravity”
People love her in this movie. It’s one of the ways her sheer likability serves her best. We all root for her to survive and to survive the unthinkable. Marooned in space. Alone.
There is tremendous subtlety in her performance. She doesn’t play the full-on anxiety that many actors might have chosen; she goes, instead, for a surface calm that she maintains at all costs. This keeps her semi-sane. The full-on anxiety is borne by the audience.
Clooney floating off early sucks no energy from the screen. We are with her on her journey, willing her to return. And her journey is physical as well as emotional. Her clumsy clambering about the space station in the beginning morphs into confident athleticism. She becomes a space monkey. Learning to navigate in space, she masters it in life and we are finally free to sit back in our seats. She has kept us on the edge of them for 90 minutes, most of that singlehandedly. It is a fiercely honest performance, restrained and powerfully effective. She is alive every minute.
And her legs are second to none.
(Bergen won five Emmys and was nominated for an Oscar.)