Oscar History

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Sandra and The Kiss

We're celebrating Sandra Bullock as she hits 50. Here's Matthew Eng on her most infamous awards show moment - Editor 

I'm not sure why exactly the Critics' Choice Movie Awards need to exist, except as another obvious precursor ceremony for glorified Oscar season star-baiting with ridiculous genre-segregated acting categories (so glad we all got to rightfully recognize Evangeline Lilly in The Hobbit as a nominee for Best Actress in an Action Movie!) and a prime airtime on the CW, and whose only (only!) difference from the Teen Choice Awards is that the former hands out actual trophies, whereas the latter gives out surfboards.

That being said, I remain eternally grateful to this over-bloated awards pageant for providing us with perhaps the single greatest, or at least most-rewatchable moment of the 2009 Oscar season five years back: the Meryl-Sandra kiss...

Streep and Bullock: one, The Modern-Day Goddess of All Things Acting and the Reigning Oscar Darling, and the other, the Easily-Lovable, Long-Enduring, Clown-Nosed Queen of Populist Entertainment. Both were nominated that year at the Critics' Choice for Best Actress, Meryl for her witty, warmhearted Julia Child impersonation in Julie and Julia and Sandra for endowing The Blind Side with punch, pep, and a direly-needed pulse, in her first roundly-recognized bid at "Serious Acting." 

As had occurred the year prior (with Streep again, this time in Doubt, and Anne Hathaway in Rachel Getting Married), the award resulted in a tie. Presenter Bradley Cooper, pre-David O. Russell and still just the floppy-haired star of The Hangover, read the name we'd all been expecting. Needless to say, Meryl marched right on up there and delivered yet another in her long line of glittering, Gummer-loving, off-the-cuff speeches that she's only gotten better at gifting us with.

Meryl then moved to the side, Bradley took back the mic, and announced, from a roster that included such Oscar sure-shots as Carey Mulligan and Gabourey Sidibe, his same year, All About Steve co-star Sandra Bullock as the second winner, for an Alcon Entertainment family-n-football drama that had originally seemed like the last thing this side of Norbit to ever get cited at a critics' ceremony. Amid hearty applause from an entirely standing room - not to mention some adorably giddy clapping on stage from Meryl herself - Sandra, looking more surprised than anyone, walked up to the podium, delved into some funny, knuckle-biting play-fighting with Meryl, and, as only Sandra Bullock can do, grabbed the mic and muttered, censors be damned, "This is bullshit!" What happened next of course went on to become the stuff of amusing reference in some pretty amazing acceptance speeches in the coming months, as Sandra planted a wet one on Meryl, to the delighted shock of everyone who never imagined they'd ever see "Miss Congeniality" lock lips with Karen Silkwood/Sophie Zawistowska/Miranda Priestley.

The only video available on YouTube is a hysterically slo-moed clip of the kiss, with the priceless description, "there mouth 2 mouth kinda hottttt", so it's obviously less of a historic telecast moment than I make it out to be, but it's at least an Awards Show Kiss that feels better cheering on than Adrien Brody having his way with Halle Berry in front of Hollywood's Elite, and it qualified the continuation of the Critics' Choice Awards for a few, glorious seconds, while surely paving the way for Sandra's eventual Oscar less than two months later.

Bullocks second CCMA win last season for Gravity "Best Actress in an Action Movie"But more than that, The Kiss lingers in the mind as a warm, wonderful, and unmistakable gesture of Sandra's acceptance into Hollywood's inner sanctum, eagerly ushered in by its Supreme Leader/National Treasure/Greatest Actress of All Time, and the first in a series of trophied reminders that Sandra Bullock is, in fact, an acting talent, at least for those of us who weren't paying attention to the fun, frisky, and game work she'd been contributing to some admittedly, uh, erratic vehicles. It's a delicious and deserving moment for an under-appreciated actress with the bold, hilarious instinct to self-deprecatingly send up her own career by saying in the same speech that followed, "To the critics, I bet you never saw this one coming. You might never again."

She got the laugh, of course. Sandra's been worthy of our laughs for more than twenty years. I'm glad she finally got our respect.

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Reader Comments (13)

I love that Bradley Cooper REALLY thought they would punch each other before the kiss.
I still don't like Sandra's win, but the woman? Can't hate her. Never.
And then came 2012, so.... it's all forgiven. ;)
I'd love to see them in a lesbian thriller BTW. I'd write it myself... actually I'm on it.

July 24, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSonja

Anything related to that particular race makes me kind of cranky.

July 24, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

my favorite part of this article is the YouTube aside. So hilarious.

sonja - that's just it right? Sandra is too likeable to get all upset about her win unlike some winners who really shouldn't have even been nominated.

July 24, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Agreed that Sandra is just really hard to get mad at for her Oscar win. It definitely helps a lot that Meryl won two years later, and that Sandra had "Gravity" four years later.

July 24, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJoe

I will never defend her win but looking back at it now, it's obvious she will win considering her competitions. She is very lucky indeed because the alternatives are not that appealing.

Anyway, I love her speech at the Oscar. It's not only respectful and humble but also funny and very touching. I prefer other nominee's performances but I am not too invested in any of them so I am fine with this win. I just hope she won't blind side her way again to another win unless she really delivers.

July 24, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDrew

Sonja and Nathaniel, I totally remember that being the sentiment around her win: "yeah, she's underserving but lets let it slide, we like her" ;)

July 24, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLucky

She could've won it for Coquette and I'd still find it hard to begrudge her, if only because how can you even remotely dislike anyone who starts her speech with "Did I really earn this or did I just wear ya'll down?"

July 24, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMatthew Eng

I was furious when Bullock won and I vouched I'll never watch the Oscars again but then I calmed down ... what would we talk about if every win was deserved all the time? Also, I'd have been fine with her winning for any of her comedies really, so it was deserved after all in a pay back sort of way. I doubt though she'll ever get another one, even if she does Lady Godiva or something.

July 24, 2014 | Unregistered Commenteradelutza

It's hard to begrudge Sandra anything, but it's still gotta sting that her win came at the expense of Swinton losing for probably the single greatest female leading performance of the decade (that'd be for "Julia").

July 24, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBVR

@ BVR -- Tilda's bold and brilliant and out of this world in Julia but Oscar was never going to touch that movie with a ten-inch pole. The loss that rankled me the most and still often does is Sidibe's.

July 24, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMatthew Eng

Yeah, sadly it was her going to win in 2009. She had a lot going for her. BO queen, America's sweetheart and so on.
Meryl was never going to win for a comedy (where she was only half-leading too), Mulligan and Sidibe were newbies and Mirren was just lucky to get the nom.

Timing is all. You can have the right performance, but when you don't have the timing, it's useless.
I still don't give up on Amy, Glenn, Annette, Julianne, Viola and Co.
May their time come someday.

July 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSonja

If you haven't seen Sandra Bullock on Graham Norton, she has a hysterical back story on how her rivalry with Meryl kicked off that year. (Samuel L. Jackson has some hilarious comments on losing the Oscar in that episode too.)

July 25, 2014 | Unregistered Commentereurocheese

Btw, Simply Streep has video for the whole thing, starting at about 6:00.


July 27, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJulia

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