"Gravity" was a force at the 86th Academy Awards Sunday night (March 2), but the pull of the space thriller was not enough to win the Oscar for best picture.
As critics had expected going into the evening, "Gravity" attracted the most awards out of all of the films, taking the Oscars for seven of the 10 categories for which it received nominations, including best director for Alfonso Cuarón.
"Like any other human ever making a film, it can be a transformative experience," Cuarón said in his acceptance speech. "And I would like to thank 'Gravity,' because for many of us involved in making this film, it was definitely a transformative experience."
"And it's good because it took so long, if not, it would be a waste of time," he added. "What really sucks is that while for a lot of people, that transformation was wisdom, for me it was just the color of my hair." [8 Science Fiction Movies to Watch in 2014]
Born in Mexico, Cuarón is the first Latino to be honored as best director.
Losing best picture to the historical epic drama "12 Years a Slave," "Gravity" also "let go" the best actress award for Sandra Bullock (Cate Blanchett took it for "Blue Jasmine") and best production design (to "The Great Gatsby").
"Sandy, you're 'Gravity,'" Cuarón said, addressing Bullock during his acceptance speech. "You're the soul, the heart, of the film. You're the most amazing collaborator and one of the best people I've ever met."
Had "Gravity" won best picture, it would have marked the first time that a science fiction film was honored in the top category.
"Gravity" was awarded Oscars for best original score, best sound editing, best sound mixing, best production design, cinematography, best film editing and best visual effects.
The Warner Bros. movie follows spacewalking astronauts (Bullock and George Clooney) who are left stranded and tumbling through space after a debris strike destroys their space shuttle. Critically-acclaimed, the 3D movie was also a box office hit, taking in more than $700 million worldwide to date.
"Gravity" won for special effects over another space film, "Star Trek Into Darkness," in large part due to its detailed digital recreations of real spacecraft, including the shuttle, Hubble Space Telescope and International Space Station. The film also pioneered new technologies for reproducing the weightless environment of space without filming in real microgravity.
Some of the credit for the movie's success can be shared with real-life astronauts. NASA's Andrew Thomas advised the filmmakers throughout the making of "Gravity," while Cady Coleman gave acting tips to Bullock from onboard the real space station.
"Congratulations to the cast and crew of 'Gravity,'" Coleman said in a video statement released by NASA on Sunday after the film had won. "Thank you for making the movie in our backyard and showing everyone around the world that it's their backyard, too."
The evening's awards add to the movie's already long list of honors, including best picture from the Producers Guild of America and the Golden Globe for best director. The film was named Best British Film by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts and won seven Critics' Choice awards including best director and best actress.
"Gravity" was released on Blu-ray, DVD and digital HD on Feb. 25. The movie was also uplinked to the International Space Station, where NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio and his crewmates screened the film.
"Of course, nothing beats the real thing here in space, but we want to congratulate the entire production and directing team and stars of 'Gravity' for the honors they've earned from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in bringing this ultimate in extreme environments to movie-goers around the world. Well done!" Mastracchio said in a video from the space station.
Click through to collectSPACE.com to watch the crew of the International Space Station congratulate "Gravity" on its Academy Awards.