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Happy Birthday Sandra Bullock, I guess...

Paolo here.

Back in 2009 I stumbled into what looked like Bullock's CAA page, and seeing a certain factoid, I posted this question on my Facebook. "What do Stanley Kubrick and Sandra Bullock have in common?" "Well neither of them have an Oscar," a friend of mine said. He spoke too soon. [Correction: Kubrick has an Oscar but not for directing. Shake fist]

Then it was time to watch the live feed of the Oscars on campus. The fedora-wearing cinema studies students were passing around this hipster German beer and I took a sip and put it down. I swore that if Bullock won the Oscar, I'd throw my beer at the screen - I didn't, no one should. The sound of angry young men and some women collectively screaming against her victory is one of the ten greatest experiences I've ever had in a movie theatre. How the powers that be hustled such a seemingly mediocre film into a Best Picture nod and a Best Actress win was like watching steel beams bend by themselves.

Anyway, to commemorate Bullock's birthday, I watched neither the movies that I remember her being good at (A Time to Kill, Crash) nor the ones I saw in high school nor college that did not age well (28 Days) or even the fun ones (Practical Magic). Instead I saw John Lee Hancock's The Blind Side, the movie that won her the said Oscar and made her, on paper, better than Kubrick. To be honest, I had two tall glasses of beer, ruining some brain cells and I was afraid that this film would do more damage.

We can assign three intertwining 'themes' to this movie. The first is when Leigh Ann Tuohy (Bullock) and her family take Michael 'Big Mike' Oher (Quinton Aaron) in and the audience also gets introduced to the rich racists, the poor racists of both colours and the racism within the Tuohys. The film begins with Leigh talking about a left tackle's body parts and we can make comparisons there. And someone should tell the woman that it's Fay Wray, not Jessica Lange! The second is when Michael's teachers and his investigator tries to bring him down and he says something unconvincing but does the trick anyway. If I was the lit prof reading his essay on "The Charge of the Light Brigade," I'd still give him a D. Lastly, there's both Leigh and Michael making mistakes and hurting each other but not so that it will ruin the chances of their eventual reconciliation.

I actually like the Tuohy family dynamic, even if her daughter Collins' (Lily Collins) role in the film is just to be pretty. Or how Leigh and Michael's worst fight happens ten or fifteen minutes before the end so that both don't spend time mooning in front of the camera while some hackneyed score tries to convince us how much they regret the event. In between moments of me yelling at my laptop while these characters speak without listening to themselves, it surprised me how competently paced this movie is.

And of course, there's both good and bad in Bullock's performance as Leigh, a rich woman with a cheap watch, wig and accent. Leigh spends most of the film assessing others and knowing how to properly deal with them. I do concede that I like her during her first conversation with Michael, looking at this intimidating figure square in the face. There we know that she'll be fine and that they'll get along famously. And of course, I can't hate on a 'walking to the car to cry by herself where everyone can still see her and she can get consoled' scene.

I guess I didn't care whether she won or not. A few actresses deserving the nominations didn't get them anyway.

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Reader Comments (29)

If it makes you feel any better, Stanley Kubrick actually won exactly as many Oscars as Sandra Bullock. While the lack of a Best Director Oscar for Kubrick will forever stand as one of the Academy's most unfortunate oversights, he did personally win an Academy Award for the visual effects in 2001. And since he also has 12 additional nominations to Bullock's 0 additional nominations, he's the clear victor on paper.

July 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDan Seeger

something they've always had in common and always will is that both of them are Leo :)

July 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterYavor


Those aren't three intertwining "themes" they are three complaints you have with the film.

July 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLuke

While I'm tired of the general public thinking that her performance and the film was amazing (and any sensible person knows she didn't deserve the Oscar), I'm also tired of cinematic minds talking down Bullock because she won an Oscar. She's an amazing person, and if anything, the Oscar win was nice just so we could hear that amazing speech. But she did absolutely nothing wrong! She can't help the fact that she won. She literally just gave her performance and the praise found her...and she rode the wave like anyone else would.

Damn, I swear I was gonna say something else and now I can't remember lol...

July 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPhilip

Perhaps you should rewatch the mess that is CRASH. Her performance (not to mention Brendan Fraser's) is laughably awful.

July 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterYibbet

I like Sandra Bullock and hate Hilary Swank and Meryl Streep.

July 26, 2011 | Unregistered Commenter/3rtfu11

@Yibbet - No disrespect, but clearly it's you who needs to rewatch Crash, because Sandra Bullock was excellent in that film.

She definitely shouldn't have won the Oscar for The Blind Side, but she gets a lot of crap that I feel is unwarranted. She's talented but has trouble picking the right scripts, she's not alone in that respect so why all the hate?

July 26, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterthefilmjunkie

Three things I remember about Sandra Bullock in the year she won:

1. She campaigned perfectly, and her speeches were all amazing. People should take notes. Classy, funny, moving, even milking a fake rivalry with one of the all time great actresses and playing it for laughs.

2. People decried her as the worst Actress winner *OF ALL TIME*!!! This was a year after they declared Winslet the worst Actress winner *OF ALL TIME*!!! (Has anyone seen "I Want To Live!"? I'm thinking no.)

3. After seeing the movie, my thoughts: it was cute, my date liked it and Bullock had no shot at Oscar.

Happy birthday to Sandy - she's a class act, a fine actress, and hopefully she will be remembered less for elevating the heartwarming B movie The Blind Side to Oscar-winning status, and more for being a comedienne with more charisma, charm and acting ability (yes, I mean it) than most of Hollywood would care to admit.

July 26, 2011 | Unregistered Commentereurocheese

It's a shame for Sandra she will be remembered for that movie and the Oscar win and not some of her best work like While You Were Sleeping, A Time To Kill, Crash, 28 Days, Practical Magic. I like her but can't stand the mega-budgeted Lifetime movie that is Blind Side.

And I just saw today that Jesse and Kat Von D broke up. What a surprise that is. Happy Birthday Sandra!

July 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCity_Of_Lights

Oh, now I remember what else I was going to's not like Sandra was oblivious to what a joke her winning was! She held the Oscar and looked guilty as hell, and always made jokes about it.

eurocheese - Perfect post is perfect. I agree. She is definitely talented.

That's why I'm excited to see her with better scripts/directors. I'm excited for Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (maybe she'll be back at the Oscars?), but even more than that, Gravity, opposite George Clooney. It sounds AWESOME, different from other movies, and like it'll be a heavy performance-driven film considering there's only the two characters and they're trapped on the moon...another Oscar-nod possibility.

July 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPhilip

i don't care if she 's a likeable woman but i dislike her in BLIND SIDE and the movie is a tv movie for afternoon but i like her in MISS DTECTIVE, THE NET & While You Were Sleeping

July 26, 2011 | Unregistered Commentercaro

I absolutely disagree with the sentiment that people give her too much grief for winning the oscar, if anyhing she does NOT get ENOUGH flak for it. Look at what people still say about Roberts and Paltrow's wins, that's pure hate. Which is funny considering the fact that both performances are far superior to Sandra's in The Bland Side. Don't get me wrong i don't hate Sandra and i don't want people to hate her but i just think that being so damn likable and charming actually saved her from getting the hardcore hatred that some other divisive winners have gotten.

July 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMiri

/3rtfu11: Interesting. Speaking which, I think Hilary Swank's birthday is this Friday while Amelia Earhart's birthday was sometime last weekend. And yes, there's that little part of me hat wants to watch Amelia.

eurocheese: You're right, she seems like a nice person. And I like comediennes. And she would have been better than the first choice for the film. I also commended the film for its pacing/the arc of Leigh and Michael's friendship. I was almost going to say something good about the lighting and composition but my first DVD screencap made me think twice about that. The rest of the film looks fine. There's just something about the characters' racism that made my ears bleed. Although I can stomach this better than Precious.

I just wished that Mickey Rourke won Best Actor in 2008 so he could roll his eyes at Bullock in front of millions of people.

Philip: Aren't Julia Roberts and Robert Downey Jr. filming a movie like Gravity right now?

July 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPaolo

Bullock is talented & was Oscar worthy in THE BLIND SIDE. No one who really appreciates movies would think less.

July 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNancynurse

Sandra is a rare combination of talent, beauty self-effacing charm and shear lovability. She has that rare quality most actresses lack...she make people care about both her and the characters she portrays in her films. She can make an audience want to take care of her.
I realize many complain her Oscar win was not earned, but I don't agree. That she gave incredible acceptance speechs from the Critics Choice to the Oscars showed the world how smart and funny and humble she is. I look forward to "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" as well as "Gravity." As she said at the Oscars luncheon...." I feel such a responsiblity to not take one step back." I have high hopes and am thrilled that a film actress can have their career peak at 45. She is the best and smart enough to not anger half the movie going public as Julia Roberts did a few years ago when she equated Republicans with Reptiles.

July 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMichael

As someone who lives outside America, I'm actually amazed how much Sandra Bullock is loved in US. I'm a huge fan as well, but still what makes her so special to American people is something I'm very curious to know.

It's almost funny that some people still feel bitter about her Oscar win. You should let it go. You weren't the voters. They pick an actor who they think are good for them. It's decided in a small world. I liked The Blind Side but I agree that it wasn't a Best Picture film, but if I was given a chance to choose ten films, I might pick it as the last one. It's hard to choose ten great films really when you don't have time to see everything. You should remember the members of The Academy are not film critics or journalists. They simply don't have time to see lots of movies.

Sandra Bullock shouldn't be blamed for her Oscar win. All she did was to act in a film, as someone else pointed out. I really hope she'll be rewarded for her comedy in the future.

July 26, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterseren

Miri - That's the type of attitude I can't what if it happens worse to others that didn't deserve it as much? That still doesn't make it right at all. It shouldn't be happening at all, just because it does doesn't mean you should continue it. I know I seem to be making a big deal out of nothing, but that's how discrimination in the world is able to thrive.

Paolo - I don't think so...? Downey, Jr. was the one signed on in George Clooney's place at first, so maybe that's what you're thinking about?

seren - I agree! I hope she gets something for comedy, I'll never forget Miss Congeniality.

July 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPhilip

Compared to other nominees that year (especially everyone not named Helen Mirren), I don't think she deserved to win. I do not begrudge her winning the award. There are worse performances that have won Best Actress, but she's not near the top of the pack, either.

July 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRobert G

Philip: All In know is something is shooting in Vancouver right now. Also to you and seren, Miss Congeniality was my introduction to Michael Caine and William Shatner. Thank God I wasn't a pretentious 12 year old. Those two guys were awesome in that movie, one of them is still awesome now.

And speaking of which, Sandyk was also eligible for an Emmy in her guest appearance in Shatner's Roast. I don't know why you all need to know this.

July 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPaolo

1) "There's just something about the characters' racism that made my ears bleed."

God yes, Paulo. One of my "pet peeves" are films that, in trying to go out of their way to to prove they are "not racist" (i.e. white liberal guilt), end up seeming more racist, or at least less honest, than more openly racist films. (Mississipi Burning comes to mind, as does Baz's Australia. Pickaninny dialogue? Really, Baz?)

Part of the message I got was that a colored kid is worth taking the time over IF he's got a particular talent and can make someone a lot of money. (We all know that sports - even at the high school level - is big business.) What happens to the other kid mentioned at the beginning of the film, but never seen? And why go out of the way for one kid, without addressing larger social issues that affect African-Americans (and poor people of all races) in general? I guess the notion of "individual responsibility is all it takes" is the overriding one here.

Overall t struck me as a Hallmark tv film I struggled to like, and certainly the cockles of my heart were not warmed, and not Bullock's best perf IMO. Although my favorite performance was by Tim McGraw, in part because he was so relaxed and not trying to be "serious"; he was the only one there who looked like he was having a good time and just happy to be there, which was refreshing

2) "Sandra Bullock shouldn't be blamed for her Oscar win. All she did was to act in a film, as someone else pointed out. I really hope she'll be rewarded for her comedy in the future."

"But she did absolutely nothing wrong! She can't help the fact that she won. She literally just gave her performance and the praise found her...and she rode the wave like anyone else would."

But she DID campaign for it. The Oscar didn't just drop out of the sky without her having to lift a finger. Everyone has to campaign for it. (And yes, her speech at the Oscars was very nice, one of my favorites) I like her as a personality very much and think she's done fine work (I can think of no one else who could have carried off Miss Congeniality the way she did, and I disagree personally with those here who didn't like her in Crash); but the award is "Best Actress" (as in, "best performance") not "Best Campaign and Nicest All-Around Person".

She's a canny business woman who has worked her way to the top (something I can certainly admire), and she garners a lot of love from fans, so I can certainly imagine that she knows how to work a room of AMPAS voters.

3) "She's talented but has trouble picking the right scripts, she's not alone in that respect so why all the hate?"

Looking at her filmography and considering that she has been a producer on several of her films, I can only conclude she's making exactly the types of films she wants to make - comedies, a blockbuster here, and occasional indie drama there. (Granted, it's a formula Nicole Kidman could borrow from - yes, she does the occasional big-budget film, but they are routinely awful and generally bomb at the box office. Talk about bad taste...)

4) "The Academy are not film critics or journalists. They simply don't have time to see lots of movies."

Point taken, seren - but is it that they don't have time or simply don't bother? And if they are not watching the films, how are they in any position to judge them and determine what is "best"? (A mythical criteria anyway.)

July 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJanice

Janice, I agree with everything you said. I am so happy you mentioned that everyone has to campaign for the Oscar. Some seem to act as if Sandra was the only one who campaigned for the Oscar, and only won because she did. I doubt her fellow nominees simply stood by and allowed Sandra to rise to the top.

July 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMichael

Can all of those here who cry racism for The Blind Side watch Places of the Heart (1984) to see what real movie racism is?

July 27, 2011 | Unregistered Commenter/3rtfu11

She won the award based on her popularity and campaigning. And since the Academy now has people like Beyonce and Dakota Fanning in their votting body, I especially don't take it seriously. The oscars are a joke. Sandra has an oscar but Jennifer Jason Leigh has never been nominated, or Isabelle Huppert..... it's sad really.

July 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTy

Hmm, A TIME TO KILL both Bullock and McCoughnaey (I refuse to spell his name correctly) do some of their best work. Of course, Sandra is better than Matthew. Watching THE BLIND SIDE gave me a headache. Sure, it's not the worse movie ever but I just can't bear it.

July 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew K.

Happy Birthday Sandra! I've enjoyed so many of your movies and I think you are a great comedienne - which is a rare and wonderful species. I'll never understand why comediennes can only be rewarded for their dramatic performances.

July 28, 2011 | Unregistered Commenteradri

Oh I saw I Want to LIVE! (exclamation point!). Godawful film, and Susan Hayward's performance was ridiculous. But I'd agree that hyperbole sets in big time when we talk about worst winners. Like I know in my head that Kate Winslet's win isn't the worst actress win of all time, but I just can't stand that shitty film, so that rubs off on her.

I hope you're not saying that The Blind Side is better than Precious b/c it's more palatable.

As for Sandra Bullock, I don't think she was a hapless victim that just stumbled into an Oscar win. She wanted it whether she admitted it or not. That faux embarassment was just that, faux embarrassment. Sure she was fifth that year, but likeability gets you very far in Hollywood I guess. Mostly I just try to forget that win like it never happened. It works!

July 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJax

Jax. If you were nominated for an Oscar would you decide your performance was "fifth" and not campaign for the win? ALL actors campaign for the Oscar when nominated. Would it be preferable for Gabourey Sidibe to have won the Oscar for the ONLY film she has done?
Sometimes Academy voters want to giive an award to a popular movie star who has had a long career, worked with alot of people in the industry, and yes, been charming and grateful for their good fortune. Sandra did a fine job in "The Blind Side." You may want to forget about her win, but there are far more egregious Oscar winners from years past. Its tiring to hear people whine about Sandra's win. You would think we were talking alout the late Shirley Hemphill winning an Oscar.

July 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMichael

Hell yes Gabourey Sidibe would have been preferable to Sandra Bullock. Any of them would have been. I could have even dealt with Helen Mirren winning a second time for the overwrought The Last Station. Being Gabby's first film has no bearing on that whatsoever. I'd rather see a grand debut performance win the Oscar versus a mediocre one from a well-known, "likable" A-lister winning it. And I'm not "whining" about anything. I told you that Sandra's win is one I've learned to block out of my head. But the opportunity presented itself in this thread to talk about The Blind Side, so those repressed memories reared their ugly heads again.

July 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJax

Um Gabby gave the best performance...she didn't deserve the win because it was her debut performance? K, that makes sense.

And Sandra was NOT the time Oscars came around, she had been gaining hype and the other awards. Even if they didn't help, Helen Mirren was obviously 5th (a spot that should've gone to Marion Cotillard for Nine, Emily Blunt for The Young Victoria, or Sairose Ronan from The Lovely Bones, in my opinion).

This is how I would've preferred the win to go-
1-Gabby Sidibe
2-Carey Mulligan
3-Meryl Streep
4-Sandra Bullock
5-Helen Mirren

July 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPhilip
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