By Tim Reid
LOS ANGELES, March 2 Mexican director Alfonso
Cuaron won the Oscar for best director on Sunday for the space
thriller, "Gravity," in which an astronaut fights for her
survival after being cut loose from her space shuttle.
It was the first Academy Award for Cuaron, 52, and the first
best director Oscar for a Mexican. His 3-D film starring Sandra
Bullock and George Clooney mixes dazzling special effects,
suspense and human drama.
Accepting the Oscar, Cuaron paid special tribute to Bullock:
"Sandy, you are 'Gravity,' you are the soul and heart of the
film. You are an amazing collaborator and one of the best people
I have ever met."
Shortly after Cuaron's victory, Mexican President Enrique
Pena Nieto tweeted: "Extraordinary work. Congratulations!"
Speaking backstage after he collected the Oscar, Cuaron said
he hoped his win would help shine a light on the work of other
Mexican film makers, and Mexican culture.
"I don't think there is enough attention paid to Mexican
culture and what is happening in Mexico," Cuaron said.
Cuaron had been hotly tipped to win the best director
category, having swept the prize in other awards ceremonies
before Sunday's Oscars, including from the Directors Guild of
Cuaron, who as a child wanted to be an astronaut, spent
three years with a team developing the film's special effects
and on-screen space panoramas, which many critics said broke new
ground in the use of 3-D cinematic technology.
Referring to the "transformative" experience he and others
undertook in the four-plus years spent making "Gravity," Cuaron,
whose hair is graying, said, "For a lot of these people, that
transformation was wisdom. For me, it was just the color of my