With the Venice Film Festival kicking off and Telluride, Toronto and New York starting soon, the festival circuit has officially begun, and already a film as emerged with potential to be the year's best.

Critics reporting from Venice have given Alfonso Cuarón's space thriller, "Gravity," some of the strongest reviews of the year so far. This, no doubt, will come as a huge relief to fans of Cuarón, who have been looking forward to his follow-up to 2006's "Children of Men."

"Gravity" took Cuarón four years to complete, mostly because he needed to develop filmmaking technologies in order to capture believable spacewalk performances from his stars, Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, and it appears to have been worth the effort, based on what the early reviews are saying.

Todd McCarthy opens his review for The Hollywood Reporter by saying, "At once the most realistic and beautifully choreographed film ever set in space, 'Gravity' is a thrillingly realized survival story spiked with interludes of breath-catching tension and startling surprise."

The tech on display also stunned Justin Chang of Variety with its complexity, but he also wondered why a movie with such palpable tension and such a straightforward story wasn't made earlier, by someone else. "It falls among that increasingly rare breed of popular entertainments capable of prompting genuine 'How did they do that?' reactions from even the most jaded viewers, even as its central premise is so simple and immediately gripping that one might just as readily ask, 'Why didn't anyone do it sooner?'" he wrote.

Of course, none of this would mean anything without a strong human element, in this case Bullock, who spends most of the film by herself. McCarthy gave high compliments to both her and her main co-star. "Clooney supplies both manly reliability and welcome lightness as a guy anyone would want in their corner in a pinch, while Bullock is aces in by far the best film she's ever been in."

"Gravity" will make additional festival appearances at Telluride and Toronto, but you'll be able to check it out when it hits theaters and IMAX screens on October 4.