Jonathan Rosenbaum once wrote that F.W. Murnau’s Faust “integrates its dazzling special effects so seamlessly that they’re indistinguishable from the film’s narrative, poetry, and, above all, metaphysics.” The same could be said of this awesome sci-fi spectacle by Alfonso Cuaron, which took several years to make but still feels spontaneous in its action and character development. An astronaut (George Clooney) and a medical engineer (Sandra Bullock) are stranded in outer space after an accident separates them from their spacecraft. Cuaron uses 3-D to render the enormity of outer space terrifyingly palpable—when the characters recede from the foreground, they really seem to be falling into a void. As they struggle to define their humanity in the face of death, that void assumes a philosophical dimension, making the movie that rarest of breeds: the intellectual blockbuster.