(In Theaters, October 2013) I’m going to take a break from reasoned movie criticism and indulge myself in a few freefall back-flips about Gravity: This is a movie I’ve been waiting a long time to see, at least ever since I wanted to be an astronaut while growing up. Alfonso Cuarón’s latest film takes us in orbit for 90 minutes, and I loved every moment of it, jaw hanging open in astonishment for much of that time. The narrative setup couldn’t be simpler (accident in space; astronaut wants to go home), but the execution is almost perfect: Seen in 3D, Gravity is the definition of an immersive experience. From the impressive 17-minutes-long opening take, this is a film that attempts something ambitious and manages a delicate balance between showing something new while trusting its audience to follow along without excessive dumbing-down. It’s not scientifically impeccable (the orbital mechanics are simplified, the plot armor a bit thick at time) but most of the compromises are conscious ones made in good faith so that the story can work on a more emotional level. Sandra Bullock is spectacular as the quasi-civilian thrust in an impossible situation, while George Clooney is his usual charming self as an old-school “Right Stuff” veteran doing his best to keep the situation under control. But it’s writer/director Cuarón who earns most of the praise here, because Gravity is an insane gamble that works: A technically-complex film that features grand thrills, thematic depths, beautiful visuals and new ways of telling a story on-screen. There are a few remarkable moments in this film, from seamlessly going to-and-from subjective perspective, soundless mayhem, zero-gravity fire and strong emotions conveyed without histrionics. It’s both a science-fiction film (despite the lack of speculative elements, it’s a classic “Analog story”) and a memorable thriller, and it arrives in theaters as an invigorating antidote to the kind of cookie-cutter moviemaking that big studios seem all too eager to present. It’s worth seeing in 3D, and it’s worth seeing in theaters: how many other films can claim the same? Assured of a top-ten spot on my year’s end list, and most likely headed straight to the top spot, Gravity isn’t just a great movie: it’s one that makes it worth feeling excited about movies again.