“I think most of us are raised with preconceived notions of the choices we’re supposed to make. We waste so much time making decisions based on someone else’s idea of our happiness – what will make you a good citizen or a good wife or daughter or actress. Nobody says, ‘Just be happy – go be a cobbler or go live with goats.’” This quote perfectly epitomizes Sandra Bullock, the 54 year old actress who is very well-known for her iconic roles in some of our favorite romantic comedies. Even though she is so successful in the comedy world, she has evolved into an accomplished actress who can naturally transform herself into any character she is given. I am going to be comparing three of her films. The Proposal, The Blind Side and Gravity. I have mainly focused on the aspects of genre, language, clothing and character when comparing these films.
The film The Proposal was released in June of 2009. In this romantic comedy, Sandra Bullock plays a dictatorial book editor who risks getting deported and the only way of staying in the country is to marry her assistant played by Ryan Reynolds. The genre of this film is much like many of the other well-known Sandra Bullock movies. Her character that goes by the name of Margaret is an uptight business woman who does not take orders from anyone. Throughout the film, she becomes more relaxed and friendly. Sandra Bullock’s character has two different styles of dress in this film. In the office scenes, Margaret wears a tight black pencil skirt with a shirt and blazer like the conventional business women. In the rest of the movie while she is in Alaska, she wears feminine formal clothing. As the character of Margaret becomes more comfortable, her clothing also changes into a more laid-back wardrobe.
The character that Sandra Bullock plays in this movie is a woman who has a tough façade but is truly sensitive and vulnerable. Throughout the film the character of Margaret finds herself. In the beginning she does not allow anything to interfere with her job which she worked very hard to earn. As the film goes on, Margaret realizes the effect of not having a family or anyone close to her. She eventually learns to love and opens up to those who care about her. There is nothing in particular that is significant about the language used by the character of Margaret. She speaks confidently which suits the personality of her character.
Personally, I loved this movie. I thought it was funny without trying too hard and Sandra Bullock was fully convincing as the character she played. Critics believed that Bullock has mastered the art of comedy. The Hollywood Reporter said, “In her mid-40s, Bullock has finessed her dewy America’s Sweetheart comedy skills to a mature, pearly texture; she’s lovable both as an uptight careerist in a pencil skirt and stilettos, and as a lonely lady in a flapping plaid bathrobe.”
Later in the year of 2009 the film The Blind Side was released. This film is based on a true story about a boy named Michael Oher who was homeless and taken in by Leigh-Anne Tuohy, played by Sandra Bullock. Leigh-Anne and her family help Michael with his academics so that he can play football at school and later achieve great success in the NFL all thanks to the kindness of the Tuohy family. This film is a biography drama about sport. It is extremely different to the genre of The Proposal and the many other comedies of Sandra Bullock’s. This change in genre for Bullock shows how, throughout the year of 2009, she has evolved. Instead of taking the safe root of the romantic comedy, Bullock took a risk by choosing this genre and it definitely paid off for her. In this film, the character of Leigh-Anne is dressed like a typical southern housewife. Bullock wears tight, fashionable dresses, high heels, has big blonde hair and bold looking sunglasses. This choice of wardrobe is vital for Bullock to fully transform into the character. The clothing does not differ a lot from The Proposal but it is more formal and the change in hair color from dark brown to blonde is a huge alteration for Bullock but the character would not be the same as she is playing a woman who exists and needed to look as much like her as possible.
Leigh-Anne is a fiery, determined, and devoted woman. She is strong in her Christian faith and a very loving mother. She is willing to stand up for people, especially Michael, no matter what others opinions are. She cares deeply about the less fortunate and has a natural aptitude for football. Much like in The Proposal, Sandra Bullock plays a strong woman. However in The Blind Side, the character of Leigh-Anne is family driven and relies on others such as her husband whereas Margaret is more independent and family was not a major part of her life. Leigh-Anne has a strong southern accent in this film. Bullock had to change her accent for the film and I thought that her accent was fully believable and is essential for the character. You can evidently see that Leigh-Anne comes from a good home and is well educated because of the way she speaks and the choice of diction. The only thing that differs in this film compared to The Proposal in terms of language is the southern accent. This film has been described to be a “feel good movie” which “offers a kind of liberal Hollywood version of conservative values.” Sandra Bullock’s performance in this film is remarkable and she was rewarded with the Academy Award for best actress in 2010. An article on the Empire stated, “Bullock delivers a towering performance that grabs the movie and the Oscar race by the scruff of the neck.” I loved this movie and the message behind it and the fact that it is a true story makes the film even more inspiring.
In October 2013, the film Gravity was released. In this movie a medical engineer, Dr Ryan Stone, played by Sandra Bullock and an astronaut, played by George Clooney, go on a routine spacewalk when all of a sudden everything goes wrong and the only way out is to explore further into space to find a station which will lead back to earth. This film is a science-fiction, drama and thriller. The genre is completely different to that of The Proposal and The Blind Side. The idea of the movie and the character is very different for Bullock which shows that from 2009 to 2013, she truly pushed herself and went out of her comfort zone when acting in this film with this unusual genre. To fit with the setting and genre of the film, Dr Ryan Stone wears a space suit and occasionally she wears simple black shorts and a tank top which goes underneath her space suit. Her hair is cut very short and she is portrayed very tired looking and stressed. The change in clothing compared to the two other movies is much more drastic.
In The Proposal and The Blind Side, Sandra Bullock always looks very feminine and dressed up where in Gravity she wears the same costume for most of the film. The costume is needed to portray the character successfully and fit in with the setting. Another big change in this film is the personality of the character. While Bullock played strong, confident women in the previous films, in Gravity she plays Dr Ryan Stone who is still a strong woman but has many different traits. Dr Stone is a very reserved and an emotionally damaged woman. She is extremely smart and loves being in space because she is protected from anyone or anything that can harm her on earth. She still mourns the loss of her daughter which haunts her every day and comes across as a very lonely person especially since she is alone for most of the film. The language in this film varies compared to the other films. There is a lot of astronaut and engineering jargon included in the script which is needed to suit the genre of the film. The way that bullock speaks is different because she is a less confident character, her voice is more shaky and quieter. There is not much dialogue in this film as Bullock acts on her own for most of it which alters the way she speaks because she speaks to herself. Sandra Bullock’s wonderful performance in this film earned her an Oscar nomination. Timeout said “Gravity is cinema in its very purest, boldest form, and it’ll leave you weak at the knees” and Los Angeles Film Review said “A luminous performance from Sandra Bullock, lost in space.” This movie surprised me because I was not sure how Sandra Bullock would adapt to such a different genre but she did so effortlessly. I thought it was an interesting and unusual film which had an inspiring message of survival. Throughout the years Sandra Bullock has played iconic comedic roles in many successful films. Even though she is a talented comedic actress, her different roles in more dramatic films have shown a whole new side to her career and allowed for her to make highly commended films such as Gravity and The Blind Side.
She has evolved from being the typical love-interest in romantic comedies to being a strong, generous mother who changed a boy’s life and an astronaut with a complex history who survives alone in space. Her contrasting roles in these films show that she is a multi-dimensional actress who can completely transform herself into any character she needs to. Sandra Bullock had enough courage to try something new and different. This courage is also portrayed in her many characters. Through this courage she honored her characters. She honored herself and earned great praise and awards for her performances. Her actions can be summed up in this quote from The Blind Side, “Sometimes you might not even know why you’re doing something. I mean any fool can have courage. But honor, that’s the real reason for why you either do something or you don’t. It’s who you are and maybe who you want to be.”
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