Our Favorite 'Gravity' Movie Moments: Astronauts, Spaceships & Space Junk (Oh, My!)

A Scene From Science-Fiction Thriller 'Gravity'
A scene from Warner Bros. Pictures' science-fiction thriller "Gravity," a Warner Bros. Pictures 2013 release. (Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

The movie "Gravity" transports audiences into outer space, and come this weekend, space fans will see whether it did the same for Oscar voters.

"Gravity" might pull in a huge Oscar haul Sunday (March 2) at the Academy Awards, or it could be a bust. But either way, the action thriller is one of Space.com's favorite movies of the year. From its technical achievements to the immersive experience of watching it, "Gravity" presents a world that is difficult to portray on Earth.

The movie follows the disastrous spaceflight of two astronauts whose space shuttle is destroyed by some fast-moving space junk. They attempt to save themselves by making their way toward the International Space Station during the 90-minute nail biter. Here are six of Space.com's favorite things about "Gravity":

The 3D animation was incredible

"Gravity's" use of 3D was impeccable. Before the space shuttle was destroyed at the beginning of the movie, the astronauts (played by George Clooney and Sandra Bullock) were peacefully floating above Earth on a spacewalk. In that time, the audience got a 3D view of what it would be like to look down on the planet from an incredible vantage point in space. [8 Promising Sci-Fi Movies to Watch in 2014]

It had some hidden gems for hardcore space fans

Director Alfonso Cuaron paid a lot of attention to the spaceflight details in "Gravity." He even included a few secret space "easter eggs" that only the most ardent human spaceflight followers would be able to pick out. For instance, the movie was 90 minutes long, the amount of time it takes for the space station to make one orbit of Earth. The interior of the station was also very similar to what astronauts use on the orbiting outpost.

"The interior of the International Space Station, which was a completely digital set, wasn't just generically stocked, but had real experiment hardware, real astronaut equipment — even the right type of pens and pencils floating about," Robert Pearlman, editor of Space.com partner site collectSPACE.com, said.

"On the flip side, this attention to detail also made it that much more uncomfortable to watch as the space shuttle, Hubble Space Telescope and International Space Station were destroyed. The realism worked both ways," Pearlman told Space.com.

It took us on a tour of real (and fictional) spaceships

Not only were the spacecraft well made in "Gravity," there were also a lot of them. From the fictional space shuttle Explorer, to the space station and the not-yet-built Chinese space station, the movie was like a tour of past, future and fictional modes of transportation in space.

They used a real astronaut as an advisor

NASA astronaut Cady Coleman advised Bullock on how to act like an astronaut while Coleman was living on the International Space Station. They talked about what life is like in space so that Bullock could get a good sense of how to behave during her performance.

"She wanted to know about what it is like to physically live up there and physically move around. 'What would you do with your hands? With your feet? What would be a natural position to work?" How often do you see your crewmates? Where do you meet each other?' It was those kinds of things," Coleman told collectSPACE.com.

Scientists and astronauts liked it (more or less)

While plenty of scientists have been critical of "Gravity," many astronauts and scientists also found something to love in the movie. Two former astronauts who spoke to Space.com said that the movie reminded them of their own spacewalks and time on orbit. Astrophysicist and host of the new "Cosmos" reboot Neil deGrasse Tyson was somewhat critical of "Gravity" on Twitter, he also enjoyed himself while watching it.

Astronauts watched it on the International Space Station

During "Gravity," the space station is blown to smithereens by the rocketing space junk orbiting Earth. In what might be one of the scariest movie experiences ever, NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio watched "Gravity" from his post on the International Space Station.

"I'm watching the move 'Gravity' up here on ISS," Mastracchio posted to Twitter on Feb. 23. "Let's call it training."

You can tune in to see if "Gravity" pulls in any Oscars on Sunday (March 2) at 7 p.m. EST (0000 GMT).

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Miriam Kramer
Staff Writer

Miriam Kramer joined Space.com as a Staff Writer in December 2012. Since then, she has floated in weightlessness on a zero-gravity flight, felt the pull of 4-Gs in a trainer aircraft and watched rockets soar into space from Florida and Virginia. She also served as Space.com's lead space entertainment reporter, and enjoys all aspects of space news, astronomy and commercial spaceflight.  Miriam has also presented space stories during live interviews with Fox News and other TV and radio outlets. She originally hails from Knoxville, Tennessee where she and her family would take trips to dark spots on the outskirts of town to watch meteor showers every year. She loves to travel and one day hopes to see the northern lights in person. Miriam is currently a space reporter with Axios, writing the Axios Space newsletter. You can follow Miriam on Twitter.