Bullock At The Fore

I was reminded of three or four things during last night’s Santa Barbara Film Festival tribute to Sandra Bullock. One, she’s whip-smart but uncomplicated — she had a clean and concise answer for every question thrown her way, but she’s not into soul-baring. Two, she worked long and hard to prove her way out of the romantic-comedy prison she felt trapped in about ten years ago. Three, she didn’t want to portray her Blind Side character (the real-life Leigh Anne Tuohy) because she felt she was an unrealistic construct — but she changed her mind after meeting her.


Sandra Bullock, Pete Hammond onstage during last night’s Arlington theatre tribute —

Margo Barbakow, Bullock, SBIFF board chief Jeff Barbakow during the tribute after-party at Barbakow’s Montecito mansion.
  • juligenb

    I still cant believe she’s going to win. I know she’s adorable, but that’s not reason enough to bestow the Best Actress Oscar.

  • http://www.obsessedwithfilm.com Ray DeRousse

    I wonder what Mrs. Tuohy thinks about being called an “unrealistic construct.”

    I’m not a fan of Bullock’s movies – I don’t really even like Speed all that much – but she seems like an intelligent person who makes professional concessions to star in pablum that the masses gobble up.

  • Jean

    I’m bothered by the fact that this has been Bullock’s most “mature” role in years, if not ever. She’s in her mid-40s. She should be going after roles like Farmiga’s in “Up in the Air” or Beckinsale’s in “Nothing but the Truth”.

  • jmevans

    Her resume blows. Not many great films. For some reason I’m annoyed she’ll probably win the Oscar. She is a perfectly nice person from what she reveals in the public light. I don’t know. She’s gonna get a standing O and cry and I’m going to gag.

  • great scott

    jmevans, how many great films have Oscar winners Halle Berry, Reese Witherspoon and Julia Roberts been in? I can only think of one: Election. And Berry and (especially) Roberts seem like totally phony bee-achs to me. If they can win Best Actress, Bullock can too. And her Blind Side performance was every bit as good as Witherspoon’s Oscar winning performance as June Carter. So if she wins, good for her. Doubt she’ll get a standing O however.

  • Geoff

    She hasn’t done any good movies, really???

    Look, has she done many truly respectable prestige films? Not at all, and I despised Crash.

    But Speed, Demolition Man, Miss Congeniality, While You Were Sleeping, The Proposal, The Net – those are some quality entertainments, there. Fun movies all.

  • Phreaker

    Na, come on. Oscar is too snobby where comedic actresses are concerned. Why shouldn’t Bullock be recognized for keeping so many hundreds of thousands employed in Hollywood for decades? The answer is, of course she should be recognized. Carey Mulligan doesn’t deserve it. They will never give Meryl Streep another Oscar until she tops Sophie’s Choice. Sidibe is the threat.

  • poseidon72

    Funny thing about Bullock for me is that I think she was great in Speed but totally annoying in Speed 2. Thats hard to do playing the same character.

  • jmevans

    I wrote a long reply but accidentally closed the window, so I’ll try to re-write my main points.

    1. Berry is a marginal actress and she did not deserve that Oscar.

    2. The only performance that I truly respect from Roberts is in ‘Pretty Woman’.

    3. ‘Pleasantville’ is a film that comes to mind other than ‘Election’ that was great that Witherspoon did. Also, after seeing her in ‘Election’ I definitely saw an Oscar in her future. She was also great in ‘Freeway’.

    4. There is a big difference between entertaining movies and great ones, which I define as original and beyond just entertaining me. Yes Bullock has been in entertaining movies, like ‘Speed’, but there are plenty of actors who have based their careers on entertaining movies. There is nothing wrong with that, but a career making entertaining movies is not what I would call a valid Oscar resume.

    5. Bullock should be recognized for keeping hundreds of thousands employed in Hollywood? Such an absurd statement it made me laugh.

  • Phreaker

    5. Bullock should be recognized for keeping hundreds of thousands employed in Hollywood? Such an absurd statement it made me laugh.

    Well, it was supposed to make you laugh. Anyone who is insulted by Bullock’s frontrunner status does not know their Oscar history.

  • jmevans

    I do know my Oscar history, and just because her front runner status mirrors that history does not make it justifiable in my eyes.

  • http://martiansattackingindianapolis.blogspot.com/ Josh Massey

    “And her Blind Side performance was every bit as good as Witherspoon’s Oscar winning performance as June Carter…”

    I liked Bullock in Blind Side, but have to disagree. Witherspoon was damn near perfect in Walk the Line. If any Oscar-winning performance can be considered “underrated,” it’s that one.

  • googs

    ” she worked long and hard to prove her way out of the romantic-comedy prison”

    um, WHAT? clearly she didn’t work hard enough.

  • Movie Watcher

    I’ll be ok if Bullock wins. If she does, then Streep, if I’m not mistaken, will be 2-14 when it comes to oscar nominations. Wow, what a record.

  • Terry McCarty

    re great scott’s comment:

    Reese Witherspoon was quite good in THE MAN IN THE MOON. Sad that it’s now sort-of-forgotten.

  • Gordon27

    “Yes Bullock has been in entertaining movies, like ‘Speed””

    Anybody who’s going to argue that ‘Speed’ isn’t a great movie is just being a genre snob. You can argue all day against Bullock, but that’s a horrible example, because it’s the one movie she’s in that surpasses being just an okay Hollywood movie. It’s one of those one-in-a-thousand shots that come along once every few years where Hollywood goes through all the usual motions but somehow, almost accidentally, everything comes together and it works.

  • jmevans

    I know my “entertaining” vs. “great” movie argument is flawed because many entertaining movies can also be viewed as great.

    My point is, a “great” movie, as I’m using the word, is something that goes beyond simply keeping your attention for however long the film was and giving you pleasure. ‘Speed’ most definitely was a thrilling action movie when I saw it in the theaters. No question. But again we are talking entertainment value here.

    I’m not going to win this one, I know it. But I think most of you know what I mean. And Gordon27, I never labeled it an “okay Hollywood movie”. But I do think you are going way overboard in your praise for it.

  • CitizenKanedforChewingGum

    I watched Speed a few weeks back, and surprisingly enough — except for the rather lame and ill-advised final “chase” setpiece — Speed really, really holds up pretty well (I actually feel the same about Demolition Man to a lesser degree, but I realize that’s a much more indefensible opinion). How many big-budget summer “action” movies keep you on the edge of your seat, without dumbing things down to a distracting degree?

    If I was an Oscar voter, and the 2010 rules applied in 1994, I’d probably throw Speed a vote for BP.

    Yeah, I said it.

  • Chicago48

    Speed was da bomb. I loved SPEED. She’s made some very entertaining movies, I like “While you were sleeping”, I liked her in the Proposal, not necessarily the movie….I liked Bullock in more movies than Roberts….and I’m glad to see she’s finally “growing up”….she was excellent in Crash. And I think more better scripts are coming her way.

  • smarty

    Witherspoon DID NOT deserve to win for Walk the Line – she’s one-note whiny in a not very good film. Do I think Blind Side is Best Pic worthy? No. Did I think Bullock was terrific in it? Yes. They may not have given her a ‘Don’t make me beg” (EB) type speech or moment – in fact they mercifully cut those short but she is a force of nature in that film and by the way NOT playing a version of her screen self (i.e.Roberts).

    Let her have her day.

    Yes Streep is very good but its A. a supporting performance (only in half the movie) and B. more an imitation than performance…she doesnt really get to do much but spew pithy comments and peel onions.

  • smarty

    P.S…..I would actually give it to Gabore Sidibe (sp?) but whatever…the Oscars are about celebrating movies. Bullock is a great movie star.

  • Michael Cavayero

    Okay –

    Speed made Bullock a star —

    After that she had a few cutsy-movies (While You Were Sleeping, Love Potion Number Nine) that respun her star making turn into a leading lady one and an alternative to Julia Robert. Bullock was the darker one, had more brains, was more about wit with even some melancholy. She came on to the scene just a few years after Roberts but everyone remembers there was a few year period after Speed when she was the leading female in Hollywood and the highest paid. This slowly died — and Roberts made My Best Friends Wedding and re-established herself as the queen.

  • Michael Cavayero

    In terms of the others: Streep’s not gonna win. You’re right, she has to top Sofie’s Choice to win — and let’s face it that’s just not gonna happen. Streep’s tired and I think her spark is running out (notice her speech at the golden globes) And She knows she doesnt really have to do much anymore to win peoples attention with a role. She’s almost automatic. Shes a great mimic and I think thats become her prime resource as of late — that and recycling her old performances (note The Hours’ Kitchen breakdown scene) She was entertaining as Julia but everyone knows it was not a hard role nor a career-altering performance but rather the same kind of complacency that her work has defaulted to since 2002 — since whichh she has been putting out consistently solid work but nothing new for her. 2002 was when she made her last artistic shift but since then its been one/two ‘i can do this’ roles a year. I think Streep’s last great performance, which could have won her an oscar was in ‘Adaptation’.

    Carey Mulligan — I agree – is not gonna win. She’s too young, and hasnt proved herself yet. Despite the quality of her work she needs to show more. Very rarely if ever has oscars given roles to young actresses before they blossomed. The only exceptions are when they know the role was once in a life-time and the actress is not coming back.

  • Michael Cavayero

    Oscars are not necessarily based on age — but there is an element of them rewarding the whole package within the performance.

    Bullock’s package is that she has become hollywood royalty — having established herself over the last 15 years as one of Hollywood’s true american sweethearts, which really happened in the early 90s after that shes done virtually nothing to alter or enhance that until now – but that doesnt matter because her initial impact and breakthrough was so strong. And so this is her ‘second best’ to Julia Roberts’ crowning moment.

  • Michael Cavayero

    To look at Bullock — Her performance was good — it was the largest stretch/against type of any actress nominated this year – some of them are new so by virtue of this being their first big role they had nothing to go against essentially but then that matters too – the other younger actresses are all good – already. So academy members know they will probably do more good work in their future and every time they go out — (even Sidibe who is relatively unknown – but anyone who saw Precious knows the girl has talent and will be around if she wants to be.)

  • Michael Cavayero

    The Oscars award not just the role per se, as we know, but the turn –

    The turn means how far and unexpected the performance was to challenge and somewhat subvert the opinion of hollywood in that particular year. If you look at every performance that has won — even if they werent the best technical performance of the year — they were the performance to do that — subvert the audience and the industry – causing them to be rewarded. Its become more evident in the last ten years (Kidman, Theron, Swank) With roles that are more conventional the subversion occurs because the person inside the role has a specific position within the industry that is being validated.

  • Michael Cavayero

    Like Witherspoon’s win — which was for a solid performance but a conventional one albeit she one because her good work in that movie validated hollywood already-opinion of her as the next ms. thing. So essentially her role as June Carter-Cash was bankable for an oscar as long as she didnt completely f-up and she somewhat delivered, hence her oscar.

    Yes this system is not necessarily fair but it works.

  • Michael Cavayero

    So Bullock this year having paid her dues and having always been known as a ‘money maker’ finally stepped outside her box (a small one) and therefore stepped outside the hollywood box of convention that she has helped establish and is a part of — and subverted it by subverting our expectation of her, and her own expectation and defined position within the system by doing this role and now by being rewarded for it. And being part of the conversation. Nobody ever knew if Sandra Bullock would ever be up for an oscar — or if she wanted to be.

  • Gordon27

    “And Gordon27, I never labeled it an “okay Hollywood movie”.”

    No, I know, I’m saying, for me, every movie she’s in can be written off as, at best, an “okay Hollywood movie”, with the exception of ‘Speed’.

    [Well, okay, I've always had a soft spot for "Demolition Man" also, Kaned.]

    Also to Kaned – I’m not sure ‘Speed’ would’ve gotten nominated, but it would’ve gotten at least as much “it should be” buzz as ‘The Hangover’, which is the obvious latter-day comparison to the point I was making about Hollywood movies.

  • Geoff

    Speed was a genre-defining movie, whether you would like to admit it or not – it was heavily imitated for several years and could have easily made the Top Ten, that year.

  • jmevans

    @Michael,

    According to IMDB, ‘Love Potion No.9′ came out 2 years before ‘Speed’.

    Also, all the politics of the Oscar’s that you went into detail about is exactly why I hate the award to start with. All other talk of why an actor should win that does not have to do with that specific performance is BS. Maybe that’s a reason why the ratings are slipping so much every year. People are tired of watching the wrong person win year after year.

  • Gordon27

    “it was heavily imitated for several years and could have easily made the Top Ten, that year. ”

    Geoff – ’94 would be a tough year for ‘Speed’ to get a nomination, merely because of the competition, but I’m not arguing that as a bad thing against ‘Speed’. My assumption is, the other five that year would’ve been ‘The Lion King’, ‘Bullets Over Broadway’, ‘Legends of the Fall’, ‘Three Colours: Red’, and ‘Ed Wood’.

  • supermada

    Speed was a genre-defining movie, whether you would like to admit it or not – it was heavily imitated for several years and could have easily made the Top Ten, that year.

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