5 Reasons Sandra Bullock Could Win the Oscar (Again)

Thesp helps viewers embrace technology

As Alfonso Cuaron’s “Gravity” enters its second weekend of sold-out multiplexes across the country, it’s becoming the cinematic event of the year. The space epic may not break the same box office records that “Titanic” did in 1997, but in some ways it’s just as important to the movie business. “Gravity,” which arrives at a time when TV is considered more groundbreaking than movies, recaptured the water cooler buzz from “Breaking Bad,” “Game of Thrones” and “Scandal.”

But “Gravity” isn’t just a celebration of the movies — it’s also a celebration of Sandra Bullock, who has reinvented herself as a formidable dramatic actress. It’s still months before the Academy Awards, but “Gravity” will propel its star into the frontrunner seat of the Best Actress race. Here are five reasons why.

1. Like her co-star George Clooney, Bullock is an old-fashioned movie star. Her win for 2010’s “The Blind Side” came out of left field: she wasn’t in a typical Oscar-bait movie, she had never been nominated, and she defeated the great Meryl Streep channeling Julia Child. The fact that Streep took home the award a year later for “The Iron Lady” meant that voters felt guilty she lost for “Julie & Julia,” but not so guilty they wanted to vote against Bullock. Given how much she’s universally loved by the industry, Bullock could easily win again.

OSCARS: Most Celebrated Actresses in History (PHOTOS)

2. Bullock is now the most bankable actress in Hollywood, period. Since 2009, she’s had four films with a domestic box office gross of more than $100 million (“The Proposal,” “The Blind Side,” “The Heat” and “Gravity,” which I’m including, because it will cross the mark over the weekend). That’s almost unprecedented — Channing Tatum had more blockbusters, but he also released more films. In the same time frame, Brad Pitt and Johnny Depp each had three hits of that scope (including animated movies), Natalie Portman and Angelina Jolie had two, Tom Cruise had one, Meryl Streep had one and Julia Roberts only had one.

3. Her performance represents the future. The Academy has been understandably nervous about awarding movies that suggest technology could replace actors on the bigscreen. In 2010, the year Bullock won for “The Blind Side,” “Avatar,” the biggest hit of all time, lost to “The Hurt Locker,” and Andy Serkis was not nominated for his motion capture turns in “The Lord of the Rings” or “Rise of the Planet of the Apes.” But “Gravity” is different because of Bullock. If the Academy honors her, they will be acknowledging that whatever change comes to Hollywood, there will always be a need for movie stars.

4. And Bullock is an excellent spokesperson for the technology. Many voters still don’t understand the intricate craft involved with a movie like “Gravity” — which explains why most questions from reporters have been about process. But talking to Variety’s Tim Gray, Bullock made it clear that she had to act in circles to convince audiences she’s a seasoned astronaut. “It was my job, with all these constraints, to figure out how to be this person,” she said. There’s no denying that Bullock, and not technical wizards, built that character.

5. Her only problem — being a recent Oscar winnerwon’t be a problem. The downside for Bullock is that she won so recently for “The Blind Side.” But that won’t be an issue if, as expected, this year’s best actress race is similar to last year’s best supporting actor competition, when all the nominees were previous winners. Bullock will likely be joined by four of the following contenders: Cate Blanchett (“Blue Jasmine”), Meryl Streep (“August: Osage County”), Judi Dench (“Philomena”), Emma Thompson (“Saving Mr. Banks”) and Kate Winslet (“Labor Day”).

If the nominations do unfold this way, the Academy will be deciding which actress deserves her second (or more) Oscar. Blanchett may be Bullock’s biggest competition with the raves she’s received for her performance in the Woody Allen comedy, yet she still won’t be the favorite. Everything can change in the coming months as the Oscar race swings into full gear, but right now, Sandra Bullock is the one to beat.

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  1. Ana Guerrero says:

    This is not about favoritism…or is it? The Academy is supposed to honor THE BEST PERFORMANCE in a leading role. If they abide to that “rule” NO ONE can take away the Oscar from Cate Blanchett. No doubt that Sandra Bullock did a great job, but if they are giving Oscars to actors just because everybody loves them, then the award has become a very cheap one. Only a miraculous performance between now and December, could defeat Blanchett, and for sure, I don’t think that will happen.

  2. Mirko says:

    I want Emma Thompson in nomination.

  3. sailingsam says:

    Love the visual..I thought the screenplay was not fully developed…in the middle the movie got heavy..the nobility of suffering wears on you..Sandra’s performance was ok…

  4. seren says:

    I really love Sandra Bullock’s performance in “Gravity” and I hope she’ll get nomination, but I think Cate Blanchett will win and should win. Now that Blanchett is running in the drama category at the Golden Globes, we’ll know for sure that she’ll win in January.

    And personally, I think maybe AMPAS just should give Meryl Streep her 4th Oscar and put her in a “hall of fame” with no further nominations, then there will be one spot for someone else. Almost every time Streep is in a movie, she gets nominated. We all know how great she is and I don’t think she needs more Oscars.

  5. Flo says:

    What do you mean by saying that Clooney and Bullock are “old fashion moviestars”? That they always play themselves no matter who their character is. In my opinion that is what the old fashion moviestars did they really didn’t act they just played different versions of themselves.

  6. Amy says:

    Sandra Bullock has been getting RAVE reviews for her performance in Gravity. Everyone is saying this is the best performance of her career. So if the academy gave it to her for the Blind Side, and everyone is saying this is even better, of course she is the front-runner. Not to mention the movie is a massive hit. That’s very important in this day and age, to inspire people to turn off their TVs and go to the theaters to watch movies and movie stars again. The academy loves her and I hope she wins again. I’m sick of stars making movies just to win Oscars…its so obvious and tacky (cough Kate Winslet and Cate Blanchett cough). Sandra is the opposite of that. She doesn’t give a hoot about winning awards. She makes movies to entertain the audiences. If the awards come, great…if not, she ain’t gonna lose sleep over it.

  7. Tom Skepe says:

    Sandra Bullock will not win the Oscar, though she may get nominated. It is indeed a terrific performance, but the dialogue is the weakest part of this excellent movie. The low point has to be that maudlin monologue Bullock delivers to herself as she struggles to find the will to survive. I predict a slew of technical Oscars for this movie, but Cate Blanchette still dominates Best Actress IMO.

  8. Allen says:

    And the ONE reason she won’t: Cate Blanchett in the role of a lifetime, Jasmine.

  9. Stamango says:

    It will be interesting to see how the Academy votes this year. Maybe it will come down to Cate and Sandra. Maybe not. Those two, both of whom I adore, are completely different actresses. Could Sandra play Queen Elizabeth? Mmmm… probably not. Can Cate put out a blockbuster consistently? I don’t think Cate has the universal appeal and box office drawing power Sandra has. I think the Academy has some interesting choices to make.

  10. What a fraud of a writer says:

    Um, you write for the New York Times and you cannot get your facts right? In what world has angelina jolie had three films cross the domestic $100mil mark since 2009?

    A cursory glance at boxoffice mojo reveals that since 2009, these are her domestic totals:

    5/26/11 Kung Fu Panda 2
    (Voice) $165,249,063
    12/10/10 The Tourist $67,631,157
    7/23/10 Salt $118,311,368

    It’s amazing the lengths the media go to prop up ms jolie and her bought and paid for media manipulations and image

  11. Michael says:

    I think many of those commenting under estimate Sandra Bullock’s performance. Her role was incredibly physical. She was acting in total isolation. Some here are claiming Sandra’s performance, as well as “Gravity” itself are “overrated.” Apparently the incredible reviews for “Gravity” as well as Sandra’s performance are meaningless. But, I suppose all of the glowing reviews for Cate Blanchette correctly apply. I feel both Sandra and Cate were terrific, but never count Sandra out. I hope the Academy thinks outside the box this year and awards Oscars to “Gravity” in all categories, not just technicals. This includes best picture, best director and best actress. Sigourney Weaver should have won for “Aliens” back in the 80’s. Hopefully, Sandra Bullock can break through the Sci-Fi glass ceiling.

  12. Steven Kaye says:

    And the reason why she won’t win: Cate Blanchett. Sorry.

    By the way, Blue Jasmine is not a comedy. And you’re Variety’s New York film editor? Yikes!

    • Allen says:

      It will be submitted in the “Musical or Comedy” category for the Golden Globes, but I agree with you. I also didn’t think MY WEEK WITH MARILYN was a comedy, per se, but that’s Hollywood.

  13. malolo says:

    Bullock is cute and everything, but the fact that she won an Oscar without really deserving it on that year could play against her. Besides she’s facing another stron Streep and Blanchett and others

  14. TG says:

    I disagree! Blanchett is the one to beat.

    Besides, I don’t think Sandra deserved that Oscar win in the first place.

    Cate has been robbed in two ocations… Paltrow and Swinton (I love Tilda but Cate’s Bob Dylan was AMAZING)

    It’s time for Cate to get that leading actress Oscar! And she deserves it so much for Blue Jasmine. She’s just SPECTACULAR.

  15. tom bennett says:

    BLUE JASMINE is not a comedy! (Did u see it?)

  16. xel castro says:

    SIn duda Sandra es mi Favorita, su actuación en Gravity es estupenda, ella tiene que ganar el Oscar sin duda!

  17. Janine says:

    Bullock is not the frontrunner and the more you folks overhype her and this damn film the harder it is going to fall with AMPAS and I personally can’t wait for it.

    Blanchett is going to win this with ease. The actor’s branch is not going for Gravity, sorry. It’s going to get a lot of tech wins and not much else.

    I assume Warner Brothers is paying you very well for this coverage however.

    • Michael says:

      Who is paying you to claim the acting branch won’t go for Sandra Bullock?
      Why are you so invested in “Gravity” falling out of favor? You “personally can’t wait for it.” Really? If “Variety” was singing Cate Blanchette’s praises in this piece would you be making the same ridiculous pay off claims?

    • tom bennett says:

      I agree that bullock is not the frontrunner. blanchett is the frontrunner!

  18. the naked bastard says:

    The reason why Bullock won in 2010 was also because the year wasn’t the strongest for actresses, same with the year Reese Witherspoon won. There simply wasn’t that oscar performance you simply need to reward. This year, however its different with Cate Blanchett in Blue Jasmine – she received raves that do not happen that often for a thespian and even if Gravity itself might be in the hunt for Best Picture and other major categories, Bullock’s performance won’t be able to beat Blanchetts tour de force.

  19. Brina says:

    Bullock is a good actress but this movie is more special effects than acting so it would be a shame if she won for just doing green screen

  20. Mick Smith says:

    I think Julie Luis-Dreyfus will be in the Oscar competition for Enough Said. She’s utterly charming in a movie that has turned out to be this year’s sleeper hit. It’s sort of Annie Hall for older people.

  21. jgf says:

    There are 5 reasons she should win.
    1. She is the best actress
    2. She is the best actress
    3. She is the best actress
    4. She is the best actress
    5. She is the best actress

    In one of the best SF movies since the Matrix.

  22. David says:

    I don’t remember there being a huge swell of support for Streep in Julie & Julia. In fact, I didn’t see one story mentioning the fact that she had lost for the film when she picked up the trophy for Iron Lady. It was more like “she deserves another, she hasn’t won since…” This was no Cher in Moonstruck apology type victory.

  23. anthaganist says:

    How was Blind Side not Oscar bait?

    • seren says:

      Nobody thought “The Blind Side” would be such a big hit, and even after it became a big hit, the film itself wasn’t really meant for an award. Bullock took it to the nomination with her. “Oscar bait” is something so obvious from the get-go, like “August: Osage County.”

    • tom bennett says:

      how was blind side oscar bait?

  24. Jay Bajaj says:

    GRAVITY is a smart filmmaking–and it will make a lot of money, but will it win awards–I doubt it. In Alien Weaver fought an alien in space–here Sandra is fighting space junk. George is the comedic relief and increase the length to 90 mins. to make it a feature. The film may dazzle kids but not the seasoned Academy voters. Take the money and run.

  25. Pj says:

    The tech wizards did enhance her teardrops!

  26. E.V. says:

    Surely this can’t just be more hype over everyone’s excitement over Gravity, can it? Oh wait…

  27. theschu says:

    I loved the movie and Bullock’s performance but I’m surprised the writer thinks the Academy gave Streep the Oscar for The Iron Lady because they “felt guilty” for not giving it to her for Julie and Julia. What about the 13 other movies she’s been nominated for?

  28. Billie says:

    Oh I almost forgot about Cate B. in Jasmine the movie was terrible but her performance was fantastic!

  29. Billie says:

    I only saw the regular film not impressed with the movie or the acting. I love Sandra Bullock but this movie did nothing for me. Just saw Captain Phillips wow!! I “cried” at the end for the captain and for the powerful performance by Hanks This is the winner up to now!

  30. Jake says:

    I’m pulling for Amy Adams to finally win for American hustle. I’m just not won over by cate blanchett

    • tom bennett says:

      perhaps u r not familiar with the blanche dubois (streetcar named desire) parallel…..or the Madoff story.

    • harleyb says:

      I say this with only a supportive, non shitty tone – you missed something. Blanchette’s performance should go down as one of the greats in cinematic history

  31. brian says:

    that’s a ridiculous, ignorant assumption. Bullock is fine, but it’s strictly a one-note “oh my God what do I do now” performance that pales beside the depth, nuance and complexity of Blanchette’s Jasmine.

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