A-List: Top Five Sandra Bullock Roles
By J. Don Birnam
July 16, 2015
The success of Minions, the Despicable Me spinoff, at the box office past weekend should not have really surprised people. Not only is the original franchise itself very popular, but what better time than smack in the middle of the summer to release a goofy kids movie that adults can also find humor in? But let’s not discount the box office power of one of the main draws behind the animated film - Sandra Bullock.
When Sandra Bullock won an Oscar for her role as the Southern belle in The Blind Side, the popular narrative was that this was Hollywood’s reward and recognition of her as a consistent and reliable box office draw, much like when Julia Roberts won her Oscar. Given how lukewarmly the movie was received by critics (but not by audiences, who loved The Blind Side), there is perhaps some truth to that narrative - Hollywood likes to recognize its own, and Bullock fills up the movie theater, so it was her turn.
True: some of the movies she has been in would have made money likely regardless of her. Indeed, despite my opening paean, Minions likely was going to be a box office hit no matter what. But it is also clear that her star power has brought in people to the seats for vehicles such as The Heat and The Proposal. Can you believe that the latter (a movie which I confess to really enjoying) brought in over $300 million at the worldwide box office? Surely, the stunning success of that movie alone (and, no, it wasn’t thanks to Ryan Reynolds - who?) helped launch her to the podium of the Kodak Theater in 2009.
So today, I will look at some of her memorable roles. Bullock has had an up and down career, if you ask me, in the 20+ years that she’s been a legit Hollywood star. Epic disasters such as the internally inconsistent but-hilarious-if-you’re-hallucinating Premonition are best forgotten. The dishonorable list doesn’t end there, with the peaked-too-soon-before-the-Internet The Net also a movie worth discarding from her pile. And while I have to admit that I was moved by Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, given that it is the lowest-rated Best Picture nominee in almost a half century, I’m going to guess that most people reading this - including Bullock? - would prefer to forget this film.
I’ll try to focus the list on what Bullock’s good performances were, as opposed to the quality of the movie itself, but this is hard to do, particularly given some of the uneven roles that Hollywood gives women.
Before I begin, I’ll mention another honorable mention, aside from the obvious The Blind Side: Crash. If you’ve been following this space, you know I have a love-hate relationship with the film, like many Oscar bloggers do with many Best Picture winners, and I won’t go into the reasons for this one again. Suffice to say that Bullock did a good job in this one - it was one of her first serious roles that come off as believably (no, A Time To Kill really wasn’t one of them), and you actually feel sympathy (but also pity) for the scared but unfortunately racist privileged woman she plays. Funnily enough, that theme shares a connection to her role in The Blind Side.
As it turns out, Bullock’s roles often tend to be related, or even mirror images of each other. Who would have guessed?