IN PRAISE OF SANDRA BULLOCK
Of all Best Actress Oscar winners, Sandra Bullock is probably the one we wish we could be friends with the most, says Doug Whelan
They say star quality isn't only defined by performances, but the off-screen persona seen in interviews, reputation and so on. Back in the 90s, one reviewer called Sandra Bullock 'capable, independent and also irresistibly vulnerable.' In the beginning Sandra's calling card was the 'Girl Next Door', but as the 90s rolled on and she matured as an actress, she began to take on more dramatic roles. A move like that could be described as cynically vying to be "taken seriously," but the thing is, it worked. Her point was proven with the likes of Crash (2004), Infamous (2006) and, of course, The Blind Side, for which she won the Academy Award in 2010.
In fact, Sandra herself credits Miss Congeniality, the comedy in which she plays a tough, tomboyish FBI agent, as the film that transformed her image, following two distinct career eras. "In the beginning I was sort of the action girl," she said, "and then with While You Were Sleeping, I was the romantic comedy girl. But when I took time off, I thought 'there's something missing here.' I literally had to start from scratch".*
"Miss Congeniality gave me the chance to do broad comedy that had nothing to do with being the romantic interest," Sandra said. "The girl next door thing went away with that film and I started to do characters that I wanted to be more like."
For female actors, it's a sad fact that age gets in the way, especially in Hollywood. But at 49, Sandra Bullock's career is stronger than ever and we sense she'll be topping the bill on the big screen for quite some time to come yet.
Love Potion No. 9 (1992)
Little known but loads of fun. Sandra plays a nerdy scientist investigating the effects of the titular elixir. In the process she gets a hot makeover of course and finds true love in the shape of Tate Donovan.
Needs no introduction. The film that made Sandra (and Keanu Reeves) a household name is up there as one of the best action movies of the 90s. Speed 2, on the other hand, was a disaster but it was no albatross around her neck. She laughed it off like everyone else, accepted it was rubbish and moved on.
Miss Congeniality (2000)
One of our favourite of Sandra's films and, we reckon, her funniest performance ever. Her slapstick fall after the makeover ... we could literally watch that over and over.
The blind side (2009)
How about this for star power: The Blind Side was the first film ever to gross over $200m at the box office with only one top-billed female star. Eat your heart out Julia Roberts, Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon!
We won't know about Oscar nominations until the New Year but word on the street is Sandra is a front runner to get a nod for her role in Gravity. It's also her most successful film to date, financially.