Sandra Bullock’s Best Films According to Critics
Sandra Bullock broke into the cinematic scene in 1987 playing Lisa Edwards in Hangmen. Although the movie wasn’t a success, it did help launch a career that culminated with an Academy Award win for The Blind Side in 2009. Four years later she was again nominated for an Oscar for her performance in Gravity, a movie carried by the weight of her gut-wrenching performance. With 57 current acting credits to her name, it can be tricky to start your Sandra Bullock education. Luckily for you, we went to Rotten Tomatoes to find her highest scores to help you out!
Gravity – 96 Percent Fresh
In 2013, Sandra Bullock starred in Gravity, a harrowing film directed by Alfonso Cuaron that was nominated for ten Academy Awards. Bullock played an astronaut stranded in space alone trying to get back home.
Billed as starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, the movie was essentially a one-woman show. Clooney appeared in the beginning in a role that amounted to a glorified cameo. If you want to see the true power of Bullock’s abilities and have a good cry while you’re at it, then cozy up to Gravity.
Speed – 94 Percent Fresh
In 1994, Sandra Bullock starred alongside Keanu Reeves in the classic action film Speed. The movie was about a bus that could not go under 50 miles per hour or it would explode. It was up to Reeves and Bullock’s characters to save the day.
According to the critical consensus, “A terrific popcorn thriller, Speed is taut, tense, and energetic, with outstanding performances from Keanu Reeves, Dennis Hopper, and Sandra Bullock.” A sequel, Speed 2: Cruise Control, was released a few years later to crickets.
While You Were Sleeping – 81 Percent Fresh
Released in 1995 and starring Sandra Bullock and Bill Pullman, While You Were Sleeping was the sleeper hit of the season. The story follows a transit authority token taker who is falsely believed to be the fiancee of a coma patient.
Although the plot might seem dark, the film was as breezy as they come, which critics saying, “While You Were Sleeping is built wholly from familiar ingredients, but assembled with such skill — and with such a charming performance from Sandra Bullock — that it gives formula a good name.”
Crash – 74 Percent Fresh
A movie about race relations in Los Angeles saw Sandra Bullock really begin to show her range in 2004’s Crash. The moral tale involving interweaving stories was a critical darling and would win three Oscars including Best Picture.
A true ensemble effort, this is a movie you can avoid if you prefer to see her as the leading lady. Still, if you want the full Bullock movie-going experience, then this is a must-watch.
The Prince Of Egypt – 74 Percent Fresh
An animated adaptation of the Book of Exodus, The Prince of Egypt came out in 1998 and helped put upstart studio Dreamworks on the map. Sandra Bullock voices the character of Miriam, Moses’ biological sister.
Critics praised the voice cast and animation technique, saying, “The Prince of Egypt takes animated movies to a new level of entertainment. Magnificent art, music, story, and realization combine to make The Prince of Egypt one of the most entertaining masterpieces of all time.”
Infamous – 73 Percent Fresh
Released in 2006, the mostly under-the-radar Infamous is one of Sandra Bullock’s best movies. It tells the tale of Truman Capote as he develops the novel In Cold Blood and begins to get too close to murderers Dick Hickock and Perry Smith.
Bullock played Harper Lee in the movie, who was best known in real life as the author of To Kill a Mockingbird. Around the same time Infamous was released, so was Capote, which stole the spotlight from the well-made film.
Ocean’s Eight – 69 Percent Fresh
Looking to revive the Ocean’s Eleven franchise with a female-led cast, Ocean’s Eight came out in 2018 and earned $298 million worldwide. Sandra Bullock got top billing in a star-studded cast that included Rihanna, Sarah Paulson, Cate Blanchette, and Anne Hathaway, among others.
Critics praised the breezy film and its cast, writing, ” enough cast chemistry and flair to enjoyably lift the price of a ticket from filmgoers up for an undemanding caper.”
The Blind Side – 66 Percent Fresh
The Blind Side is the movie that finally won Sandra Bullock an Academy Award. In the movie, she plays Leigh Anne Tuohy, a wealthy white woman who takes in a homeless young black man with a gift for playing football.
Roughly based on the true-life story of Michael Oher, the movie has come under fire since its release for its portrayal of his intelligence. At the time it came out, though, it was a surprise hit and was even nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars!
A Time To Kill – 66 Percent Fresh
Directed by Joel Schumacher and released in 1996, A Time To Kill isn’t always the easiest movie to watch, but it is quintessential Sandra Bullock viewing. She plays Ellen Roark in the movie, which follows the case of a Mississippi man on trial for murder.
A Time To Kill was a hit with audiences and critics. Roger Ebert gave it three out of four stars, writing, “I was absorbed by A Time to Kill, and found the performances strong and convincing… this is the best of the film versions of Grisham novels, I think, and it has been directed with skill by Joel Schumacher.”
The Heat – 65 Percent Fresh
In 2013, Sandra Bullock paired up with rising comedy star Melissa McCarthy to make The Heat. Playing the “straight woman” who has to learn to work with a bonkers detective, the pair proved to be perfect foils for each other.
Mick LaSalle, a movie critic for The San Francisco Chronicle, said, “the inspiration is in the combining of these two actresses.” By the end of its theatrical run, The Heat was a hit and had earned $230 million worldwide.
Bird Box – 63 Percent Fresh
Bird Box was released straight to Netflix and became an instant hit for the streaming giant. Bullock plays a mother who is willing to go to whatever lengths necessary to keep her children safe in a world falling apart.
Critics felt that although the movie missed out on achieving its full potential, “strong acting and an effectively chilly mood offer intermittently creepy compensation.” According to Nielsen, Bird Box was streamed by 26 million people in its first seven days of release.
Demolition Man – 61 Percent Fresh
Bullock took one of her first steps into the action genre with Demolition Man in 1993. Starring alongside Sylvester Stallone, Bullock was given the film’s best one-liners as her character tries to get Stallone’s comfortable with living in the future.
Critics said, “A better-than-average sci-fi shoot-em-up with a satirical undercurrent, Demolition Man is bolstered by strong performances by Sylvester Stallone, Wesley Snipes, and Sandra Bullock.” In 2020, Stallone announced that a sequel to the now-classic film was in the works.
Wrestling Ernest Hemingway – 57 Percent Rotten
Wrestling Ernest Hemingway is the first movie on this list to fall below the “fresh” threshold set by Rotten Tomatoes. Sandra Bullock plays a supporting character in this drama about two lonely older men.
Even though her part is small, Bullock was still praised for her performance, “Predictable but moving, Wrestling Ernest Hemingway is an understated and melancholic drama that gets plenty of mileage out of an outstanding cast that includes Robert Duvall, Richard Harris, Shirley MacLaine, and Sandra Bullock.”
The Thing Called Love – 57 Percent Rotten
A romantic drama about finding love as an aspiring country musician, The Thing Called Love is most notable for being the final on-screen performance of River Phoenix. Unfortunately, when it was released, the movie failed to make back its budget.
Critics mostly enjoyed the film, especially the performances, “Nothing terribly new happens here, but Bogdanovich plays out his scenes with tenderness and affection, and the honest performances spring to life.”
Minions – 55 Percent Rotten
Bullock returned to the world of animation in 2015 with Minions, a spinoff of the popular Despicable Me franchise. Bullock voices Scarlett Overkill in the film, a powerful human who calls herself the most powerful female supervillain in the world.
Minions was a massive success, earning $1.159 billion worldwide when it was released. A sequel, Minion: The Rise of Gru is set to come out in 2021, but Sandra Bullock will not be returning.
The Vanishing – 47 Percent Rotten
Released in 1993, The Vanishing was the first horror film of Bullock’s career. It wasn’t as polished as Bird Box, but it was still seen as a mildly successful abduction thriller. In the movie, she played the kidnapped girlfriend of a character played by Kiefer Sutherland.
While critics were split on how effective the film was, David Nusair of Reel Film Reviews was happy, calling it “a thoroughly involving thriller that boasts a number of genuinely tense sequences.”
Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close – 46 Percent Fresh
Written and directed by Oscars winners Stephen Daldry and Eric Roth, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close was seen as Sandra Bullock’s first shot at Academy glory. When the movie about trauma left from 9/11 came out, though, it landed with a thud.
Critics felt the movie was too in-your-face about the tragedy, with Emma Dibdin of The Arts Desk writing, “This is a muzzled beast of an epic, all its sharp, strange edges blunted, its askew angles righted.”
Forces Of Nature – 45 Percent Fresh
Released in 1999 to mixed reviews, Sandra Bullock was singled out by the Teen Choice Awards for Forces of Nature, taking home the trophy for “Best Hissy Fit.” The film explores the relationship between two strangers who meet on a plane.
Critics felt Bullock was an odd fit for the screwball comedy: “Bullock seems a bit too level-headed for a screwball, and the affable Affleck has no real chemistry.” Despite this, the film was a hit, earning nearly $100 million worldwide.
The Proposal – 44 Percent Fresh
Another comedy that missed with critics, The Proposal was a hit with audiences and is one of Bullock’s most underappreciated performances. Telling the story of a stuck-up boss who forces her assistant to marry her to avoid being deported to Canada, the movie paired her up with the effortlessly charming Ryan Reynolds.
You can probably guess what happens as the two opposites learn about each other. There’s only one way to find out if you’re right, though!
Divine Secrets Of The Ya-Ya Sisterhood – 44 Percent Fresh
Another modern-day Bullock classic that missed the mark with critics when it was released in 2002 is The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. Bullock plays Siddalee, a young woman who discovers the adventures her mother used to go on, thanks to an old scrapbook.
Reflecting on the film, Anne Cohen of Refinery29 wrote, “The Divine Secrets Of The Ya-Ya Sisterhood was a little ahead of its time… it dreamed big, floundered and eventually petered out, making way for better versions of itself. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t important.”