"You have to see 'Gravity.' You have to see 'Gravity.' You have to see 'Gravity.'"
It was the recommendation that you probably heard at some point, whether you had seen the movie already or not. It was repeated so often that it became like a catchphrase for movies in 2013, and with good reason.
But even after the hype died down, and everyone started saying "Yes, I've seen it," Alfonso Cuarón's "Gravity" remained the movie-going experience of the year and MTV News' pick for the best of 2013.
The road to #1 was a long one, though. Cuarón worked for four years to bring "Gravity" to the big screen. Most of that time was spent with the general public knowing next to nothing about the director's follow-up to "Children of Men," another modern classic, and with the line-up of actors in the lead role changing a few times. Angelina Jolie and Robert Downey, Jr. were originally on tap to play the roles Sandra Bullock and George Clooney ended up in.
Once the roles of Dr. Ryan Stone and Matt Kowalski were locked in, the real work began. Cuarón and his crew worked tirelessly to create visuals that could stand next to actual footage from space. (It even fooled one reporter.) The special effects work was so detailed and advanced that even when a frame was literally filled with CGI, that's not what held the audience captive. It was how Cuarón used the technology to create one of the single most suspenseful films in recent memory and how Bullock and Clooney never made us doubt that they were in space, as opposed to a soundstage.
"Gravity" also came at an important time for movies. With shows like "Breaking Bad" and "Mad Men" adding fuel to the fire of those how argue in favor of TV as the superior medium, "Gravity" presented a straightforward case for the cinema. The story is simple, told in a tight 90 minutes, and demands to be seen on the big screen without the need for a gimmick like 3-D to jack up ticket prices. There was no better argument for the staying power of movies in 2013.
And now that the hard work is done, it's time for the filmmakers to celebrate their accomplishment with the mountain of awards that is headed their way. When Cuarón heard about "Gravity" topping MTV's list, he released this statement:
"This is quite an incredible year for cinema, and we're so happy MTV — the creators of the 'Moonman' — have recognized our film in this wonderful way. To have audiences embrace 'Gravity' and emotionally connect to the characters, beautifully performed by Sandy and George, has been an extraordinary experience. I thank these incredible actors and everyone who made the film possible for going on this journey with me."
So many movies wowed us in 2013 and not everyone made the list, but when it came down to it, we couldn't shake the image of a single person, floating toward the endless nothing of space and the feeling of joy to see her stand up on her own two feet again.