It is true, financial success in showbiz does not irrevocably translate into great acting, but an actor's empathy with his/her audience proves there's a special connection. It means they are talking the same language, or maybe the public reacts to the chemistry between the artist and the camera.
Sandra Bullock’s acting career is a curiosity. She started out slow, in diverse romantic comedies until she was given her breakthrough opportunity as an accidental bus driver in the successful actioner ‘Speed’, alongside Keanu Reeves. That was a typical “sidekick”/”love interest” role that clicked with audiences and producers alike. Soon after, Bullock was given more and more films, of diverse interest and quality: from her first Golden Globe nomination in 'While You Were Sleeping', to the completely absurd ‘Speed 2:Cruise Control’.
It helps that in real life, Bullock has always kept a low profile, girl-next-door approach to show business. Not your typical “Glamour” girl, she focuses on comedies, not because she is an excellent comedienne (in fact she can't come up with a joke if it's not written for her), but because she has good tempo with comedic material. Only her presence can save films so formulaic as 'Miss Congeniality' or 'The Proposal' (or simply can't, like the bland 'All About Steve') and she is able to push them to their success only based on her personality onscreen.
In 2003 Clint Eastwood offered her the lead in Million Dollar Baby, to which she declined corteously. She was busy with other projects, of course, but the film was so dark and the character so physically demanding, that she might have thought it wasn’t up her alley. The role then went to Hilary Swank and made her a two-time Oscar winner.
This might have triggered something in Bullock and she started doing more “serious” work in films like ‘Crash’ and her Oscar winner role in ‘The Blind Side’, as well as ‘Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close’. Not that she hadn’t done it before with films like ‘The Net’, ‘Murder By Numbers’ and 'A Time to Kill'.
Most of the films I single out in this 10-best list are comedies. I do because one of the things I like the most of a comedy is when the actors are not trying hard to be funny, but they are, and Bullock is able to convey that and more.
She has achieved the status of Star and has become one of the best paid actresses in Hollywood, but more important than this, is the fact that most of the films where she is involved, have actors as her "love interest". This is pretty odd in a male-dominated industry like Hollywood.
Nevertheless, her most impressive achievement as an actress can be seen in a very peculiar film: ‘Gravity’. She was required to hang on wires most of the shooting, and deliver her lines in front of a green screen most of the time, talking to herself and building a backstory that is never shown onscreen. That, by itself is very impressive. When her Character Stands on safe ground at the end of the film, you realize how strong this woman is, and, apart from the precise direction by Alfonso Cuarón, and how Bullock is responsible for most of the feelings you developed during the viewing.
(2013) Directed by Alfonso Cuarón Either going around in circles in the vast universe, as she tries to not “freak out”, or trapped in a tiny little ship, Sandra Bullock managed to become a “common woman” in an uncommon situation that certainly is bigger than anything we might encounter in life. She makes the story of her survival believable to a point you could actually call her a Hero after the intense ride of this spectacular movie.
For a full review on Cuarón's Oscar Nominated film, please click on the following link:
(1994) Directed by Jan de Bont Right after her supporting role in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Demolition Man, here was another supporting role, now next to Keanu Reeves. And this time around everyone actually saw her and singled her out because of her naturalistic acting style.
The Blind Side
(2009) Directed by John Lee Hancock The role that brought Bullock the Oscar for Best Actress is based on a real life woman who adopts a homeless and traumatized boy who ends up becoming an All American football player. Bullock moved from comedies to this drama “by-the-numbers”.
(2013) Directed by Paul Feig Most of Sandra Bullock’s comedies are really formula. You just sit, watch, laugh and go. The only difference is that she usually makes you forget you’re watching a not so good film. In this case, she was teamed up with Melissa McCarthy, and the odd-couple strategy worked miracles.
For a full review on Feig's film, please click on the following link:
(1995) Directed by Jon Turteltaub Right after Speed made her an international star, this film gave her the chance to develop her talent for romantic comedies. She carries the film as if she were a consumed actress and she was just at the beginning of her career.
(2000) Directed by Betty Thomas Playing a seriously drunk woman for fun? Not many people can pull it off but Bullock is able to sort out this balancing act (drama/comedy).
(2009) Directed by Anne Fletcher One of her most successful films, Bullock creates a very unlikable character with very unsympathetic actions that makes fun and takes advantage of one of her employees. Of course, following the rules of a romantic comedy, these two will end up together. The joy is in the journey, not in the destination.
Two Weeks Notice
(2002) Directed by Marc Lawrence Another typically romantic comedy that finds two characters slowly falling for each other after bad beginning. The film is saved by Bullock and Hugh Grant's good timing for romantic comedy.
(1995) Directed by Irwin Winkler A drama and suspense film about a computer programmer that finds her identity stolen in a conspiracy. This is, again, typical material that keeps you at the edge of your seat just because Bullock is there.
(2000) Directed by Donald Petrie An undercover FBI that enters the Miss United States beauty pageant and has to act “womanly”. This is a meaty role for Bullock, and its success was followed by a sequel.
(2006) Directed by Douglas McGrath. This was “the other Capote” movie that year and was eclipsed by the Philip Seymour Hoffman version. Sandra Bullocks’ version of Harper Lee might not compare well to Catherine Keener’s but it’s one of the few times Bullock has moved away from her film persona to recreate a completely different character.