The opening. Everything from the title to Stone spinning off into space was all one long continuous shot. Granted, due to the immense amount of CGI used in the scene, it was unlikely all one take (unlike, say, the opening of Touch of Evil), but it is still remarkable how the finished scene appears as a single shot. A truly awesome moment for cinematography and visual effects.
Stone with a fire extinguisher inside a space station? Knocks herself out. Stone with a fire extinguisher outside a space station? Magnificence.
And when the extinguisher runs out, she throws it in the opposite direction, giving her just enough push to grab the station.
Pretty much the entire final half-hour of the movie from the hallucination scene to the credits. Once Stone decides she isn't going to die, she means it.
The movie's final shot of Stone taking shaky steps back on Earth.
Meta-one for Alfonso and his team, for creating one of the best Sci-Fi movies in recent memory. The cinematography and visual effects are jaw-dropping (and absolutely must be seen in 3D), the soundtrack sets the mood perfectly, the actors give top-notch performances, and the direction is compelling and tense. It's been getting a lot of comparisons to 2001: A Space Odyssey and it deserves them. The critical praise has been universal (a perfect 48-for-48 positive reviews from Rotten Tomatoes' Top Critics, most of the 4-star variety), the movie pretty much shattered every October box office record (proving that you can open a big non-horror movie in that month, although it's plenty terrifying), and the strong word-of-mouth has helped the film to strong holds and a box office take surpassing the best of expectations.
It's also a long-time-coming financial success story for Cuaron, whose films have eluded mainstream box office success; his only prior film to crack $40 million domestically was sure-fire blockbuster Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and even that film had the weakest box-office performance of the entire series. Gravity's success ensures that Cuaron will have A-list resources and flexibility coming his way for whatever his next projects will be.
Plus garnering praise from the likes of Buzz Aldrin, Michael J. Massimino, and Garret Reisman.
When James Cameron says your film is the best space movie he's ever seen, you know you've done well.
10 Academy Award nominations, tied with American Hustle for most nominations of the year. 7 wins, which blew every other movie out of the water. The second place for most wins was tied between Dallas Buyers Club and 12 Years a Slave, both of which only took home 3 each - and one of those movies was the Best Picture winner.
Another meta-one for Sandra Bullock, for managing to do such a great job that no one cares that she's the only character in more than half of the film.
A fellow astronaut is killed, the shuttle is destroyed, and Ryan Stone is sent tumbling off into the cold depths of space never to be found again...until...over the radio "........(static) Dr. Stone, do you read?" And shortly thereafter Matt Kowalski comes flying in with his jetpack, not unlike a superhero.
His Heroic Sacrifice to give Stone a chance to survive. The man is a Crowning Moment of Awesome by himself.