Sandra Bullock in 'The Blind Side,' getting serious

A few months ago, as All About Steve came and went having revealed more about Steve than audiences could bear, I wrote in this blog about the disservice Sandra Bullock was doing herself, clinging to outmoded girly roles when her talent (and the sunny goodwill she has earned with audiences) could support more serious and more mature characters.

Am I a genius or what? Okay, maybe not. But the great response our Sandy (we can call her that, can’t we, because she’s a star who feels very much one of the people) is getting for her more serious, more mature work in The Blind Side pleases me almost as much as it must be pleasing her.  I’m struck by the number of critics, entertainment reporters, and awards number-crunchers who go out of their way to say that Bullock’s performance as a rich, white, exemplary Christian woman who takes in a lost, homeless black teen and nurtures him to success is the best of her career to date.

I don’t even necessarily think it is — she was separately but equally terrific in Speed, and Miss Congeniality, and Crash. Plus, I think what talk there may be of her Oscar chances speaks more to the weakness of the Best Actress field this year (like what else is new?) than to the resonance of the work. But still. I love the votes of confidence this sends Our Sandy’s way, registered by critics, pundits, and ticket-buyers alike.

And now, two questions: First, what other actors, male or female, do you think might benefit from a movie-role makeover, from the young, fun, lightweight type to something more adult and consequential?

And second, aren’t you glad this post isn’t about New Moon?

Photo credit: Ralph Nelson

Comments (207 total) Add your comment
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  • Blake B

    Jennifer Aniston. Her rom-com, mainstream pap has been hard to swallow, but she’s really shown her chops with such raw, revealing roles as in The Good Girl, The Object of My Affection and Friends with Money. Heck, even her interesting turn in Office Space beats some of her lead perfs in the last few years.

    • superso

      agreed. hers was the first name that popped into my head. you’re right – she was fantastic in the good girl and friends with money. everything else she’s been in? not so much.

    • jay

      Seconded. Her comedic timing & delivery on Friends was stellar too. She’s got too much talent to be lost in movies like Management and Love Happens.

      • Frank Anderson

        … I liked Management.

      • ash

        She was also great in Derailed.

      • GeeMoney

        Perhaps Jennifer Anston should try taking more supporting roles in some drama films. We all know she’s pretty good at comedy…. but what about drama?

      • GeeMoney

        And she was just so-so in The good Girl. Jakey G outshined her in that movie, in my opinion.

    • djm

      Third!! GirlFRIEND needs a makeover in the career dept.

    • Mary S

      I agree she has great comedic timing. My one complaint is that she always looks like Jennifer Aniston instead of the character she is portraying. She needs to loose herself more in the character.

      • Renee

        Yep, you got your fourth…sorry, fifth!

      • adriann

        I agree Aniston needs to change it up. i think Marley and me was a good start, very grown up role, too bad she went back to the rom-coms.

      • Sara

        Well that’s a little difficult considering she refuses to change the length and color of her hair! I do like her in movies though.

    • RubyBaby

      Agreed. Her career is very similar to Bullocks’s – some good comedy, a few stellar pieces in smaller films (The Good Girl, Friends with Money, and lots of mediocre stuff. The difference though is that Bullock isn’t “Our Sandy” in all her films, she brings a separate character to the roles, whereas we keep seeing Aniston do a “Rachel Green” in all her romcoms which makes her ripe for a makeover into a grownup.

      Then in a few years, maybe, just maybe, Lisa (or some other EW critic) could be writing a similar post as this about Aniston instead. Stranger things have happened!

    • Eric

      Don’t forget Jen’s performance in “Derailed,” a movie I thought was tragically underrated.

      • Elizabeth

        Too bad you could see the “surprise twist ending” coming a mile away in that one!

      • Ethan

        Sorry, JA could not pull off that role. She was severely miscast.

      • Andy F

        Can’t blame her at all for grabbing a chance to play the femme fatale, but Jessica Rabbit would have been more convincing. Miscast.

    • Kari

      I really loved her in Friends with Money. That role was so un-Rachel. I would love to see her move away from roles that resemble her character from the old sitcom. Good show, but I would like to see her move on.

      • Molly

        Add my vote for Jennifer Aniston. The girl can do so much better.

      • Ambient Lite

        Friends with Money was a great little flick.

    • Lily

      Agree Blake. Jen Aniston needs a good role & film badly. (BTW, am so happy for Sandy Bullock, an actress I’ve always loved no matter what she’s in, even if it’s only so-so. I even kinda’ liked Premonition. . . you go girl!)

    • Angie

      She doesn’t have the acting chops to do it. In almost every role she’s played, she’s been Rachel. Only in the good girl she did something different, and she had Jake Gyllenhaal and John C. Reilly to help her. Derailed was just plain bad.

    • Time to Grow Up

      Yep Jennifer needs to find a new genre. The romantic/comedy isn’t working. She was good in Marley and Me.

  • chichi

    Jennifer Lopez! One good movie, Out of Sight, and it seems as if she just plopped herself down into mediocracy.

    Jason Statham is another guy who looks like he has a lot more in him. At times, he comes across as just as smug and secure as Daniel Craig does in the Bond movies.

    Kirsten Dunst, she’s been resting on looking awkward/complacent for way too long.

    • TellyB

      I soooo agree regarding Jennifer Lopez. In MY FAMILY and OUT OF SIGHT she showed talent, presence and star quality, and then she took her career into a path of dumb romantic comedies and silly woman-in-peril crap. She was so busy trying to further her celebrity and pumping up the J-lo empire/brand that she forgot the passion and love for the craft and the art of acting. I wish she had done a film with Woody Allen, Cameron Crowe or Martin Scorcese…and I wish she lost her vanity and realized that she doesn’t have to look all glammed up and fabulous in every role. She needs to truly go the Charlize/Monster, Halle/Monster’s Ball, Nicole/The Hours, Mariah/Precious route and frump herself down and disappear into a raw, real performance…I think the talent is there…

      • right!

        She was also good on that movie with robert redford and morgan freeman, cant recall the name now…

      • TellyB

        The film with Robert Redford and Morgan Freeman is AN UNFINISHED LIFE

      • gina

        Let’s not forget about Selena. That’s always my go to movie when defending JLo

    • Sally in Chicago

      I agree about JLopez….I loved her in Anaconda, in that Roses & Wine movie with Jack Nicholson, all her dramas were really good and that’s when she was just moving up the Hollywood ladder. She needs to do film noir…hey Jlopez are you reading this? Bring back film noir.

    • madd

      I agree- she really does have some talent when she’s in a good movie! I loved her in “The Cell” with Vincent D’Onofrio.

    • Julia

      I agree about Jason Statham. I’ve been a huge fan of him since seeing Snatch and would like to see him go back to doing something besides Transporter and Crank movies

  • Timbo

    I think Charlize Theron could use a make over…She is one of the best actresses of my generation, but she always picks dark and serisous roles…I would like to see her do a romantic comedy or something that is light hearted…Then there is Denzel Washington. Amazing actor! He has nothing to prove. Do a comedy. Why does he always play a cop. HA.

    • pop

      yeah she was hilarious on arrested development. i’d watch a comedy with her starring in it

      • Jackie

        She was also super funny in “The Curse of the Jade Scorpion” :) VERY underrated movie!

    • Daria

      Nah I don’t like the idea of Charlize Theron doing those romantic comedies. Romantic comedies these days are so generic, sexist, and cliche. Leave those to Kate Hudson, and Katherine Heigl. If Charlize is going to do a comedy I say let it be a quirky Charlie Kaufman-esque comedy. She can be funny. But I like the fact that she goes for challenging smaller dark roles rather than trying to make her name and status off romantic comedies like a generic Reese, Julia, Sandra, or Katherine. I don’t want Charlize having a Kate Hudson career afterall. lol.

  • Aidan

    Nicole Kidman-Remember those great years with The Other, Moulin Rouge and The Hours. I miss that Nicole Kidman. Can’t wait for Nine though!

    • Liz

      Don’t sleep on BIrth, Dogville, Margot at the Wedding, and Rabbit Hole looks really interesting. Say what you want about her flops – she’s made some really interesting choices and given interesting performances. As Sandra shows every actor makes a turkey or two or three. For Sandy see All About Steve, Two Weeks Notice and Miss Congeniality Two.

  • Yogi

    I’m with Chi Chi. I want to see J Lo come back with a great movie. I miss the Jenny of old (Selena anyone?). Tom Cruise definitely needs a career makeover, as well as John Travolta. Another one is The Rock. Loved him in Gridiron Gang where he showed his dramatic chops. Enough with the kiddie movies already Dwayne.

  • Jason

    Jennifer Garner. She proved her immense talent with her great performances in “Alias,” “13 Going on 30″ and “Juno.” However, now it’s time for her to stretch a little, and no, that doesn’t mean more romantic comedies with Matthew McConaughey.

    • Cat

      Agreed on Jennifer Garner. The rom-coms are doing her a disservice. She used to show off her drama chops weekly on “Alias”!

    • graeme

      did you see “The Invention Of Lying”? Sure, it was a comedic role, but Garner pulled off that EXTREMELY difficult role brilliantly. All her dialogue was mean-spirited and vain, but Garner pulled it off with charm and had the audience laughing.

      • Gregoire

        Yes to Jennifer Garner! I love her, she’s a beautiful versatile actress who could use a couple good juicy roles.

    • Celia

      I agree. I would love see her in another tough girl role like Sidney Bristow. She hasn’t done something like that in a looooong time. Too long in fact. I think that’s where she excels. But I would also love to see her in some serious indie flick.

    • elena

      Quadruple agree. Jennifer Garner’s range in Alias was astoundingly awesome, and she deserves better material. She’s such a relatable actress, and no one can cry as powerful as her. Do it, Jen!

      • Lisa Schwarzbaum

        I’m with Graeme–I’m a big fan of “The Invention of Lying,” and Garner showed great, sly self-awareness in a difficult comedic role.

      • Kat

        Quintuple agree. Jennifer Garner rocks. Don’t think she’s yet had a movie role that displays her Dramatic chops. Loved Alias, some of her movies & don’t hate me but, I really liked her in Catch & Release. And yes, Lisa, THRILLED this isn’t about the drekky NMoon! Wha Hoo.

  • Aimee

    Agree w/others on the Jennifers. How about Kate Hudson? Remember when she actually got an Oscar nomination for “Almost Famous” back in the day?

    As for the guys, Matthew McConaughey could conceivably do so much better than the lame rom-coms (w/the likes of Kate Hudson, for example) he’s chosen. “A Time to Kill”, “Dazed and Confused”… anyone, anyone???

    • Jordan

      Kate Hudson is in that movie Nine– she seems to be expanding. I definitely agree, though.

    • Luddite

      Glad to see someone mention a man, and doubly glad you went with McConaughey. He was great earlier in his career, but he seems to have resigned himself to crappy rom-coms.

    • Time to Grow Up

      Alright, alright. Matty’s surfer god routine has gotten old. Wasn’t he also in Armistad or I’m losing my mind. I hate to admit, but I liked Ghosts of Girlfriends Past.

  • Mary

    Halle Berry…what serious movie has she been in since Monster’s Ball?

    • Alan of Montreal

      She was in Things We Lost in the Fire, which was an excellent and powerful film, but unfortunately didn’t garner much box office or critical attention, but she is excellent in it.

    • Yolanda

      Mary and Alan, I would like to see Halle in a well crafted romantic comedy or another gritty drama like Monster’s Ball. I did like Things We Lost In The Fire though.

  • PJ

    So nice to FINALLY see a story on here that’s not about vampires, Adam Lambert, or Kate Gosslein.

    • Kristyn

      I completely agree! It’s really refreshing!

      • Frank Anderson

        The movie critics make this site and the magazine worth reading. Everyone else on the staff… not so much.

        EW seriously needs to bring in some more staff that is not stuck in the Gossip Girl, Twilight, reality TV gutter that EW is so big on right now.

        PS- I actually don’t hate Twilight… but I REALLY hate stories about it that should be on, not

  • Menchy

    Michael Cera… PLEASE!

    • Ambient Lite

      Yeah, he does desperately need one.

      • stephanie

        I really hope he doesn’t ruin “Youth in Revolt”– I’m afraid that he’s going to turn it into another Michael Cera playing Michael Cera

      • Nick

        I saw Youth in Revolt at a film festival, and I thought he was superb in both roles, especially Francois which i felt was very different from his usual shtick.

      • Ambient Lite

        Maybe he just needs some time to grow up before trying to shift to a more adult role/genre. I don’t know whether it’s realistic to expect much more just yet.

    • Kari

      I love Michael Cera, but he just seems too comfortable with playing the awkward adolescent. At this point I’m not sure if he’s capable of doing anything else.

  • Jordan

    Kristen Bell. She’s a great comedic actress, but when that girl is sad in, say, Veronica Mars–*I* am sad. She has an amazing ability to convey her emotions successfully to the audience. She was a great baddy in Heroes (for only a handful of episodes, unfortunately), and I know she has great potential. Just please, Kristen, no repeats of Pulse.

    • tvgirl48

      I would love to see her in a quality movie. She’s so much better than the stuff she’s doing now.

    • TellyB

      Kristen Bell is NOT talented. She is strictly from the Jessica Alba/Megan Fox/Jennifer Love Hewitt school of “acting” and as such, she is stuck in films that match her very limited skills.

      • amanda

        whoa,you need to go back and due some homework my friend.not only did Bell show much range(not as eyecandy) on VM but also has a stage background.don’t lump her in a category w/ actresses you talentless.

      • lily

        To TellyB: I´m sorry, first you praise J-Lo´s acting talent (in a comment further up the page) and now you say that Kristen Bell is talentless? This just made every comment you make again about the craft of acting moot…you obviously have no idea what you are talking about

      • TellyB

        Actually, I do know what I’m talking about. The proof is in the acting. Veronica Mars? You consider THAT a showcase to stretch your acting muscles? What range did she show? From wide-eye innocence to wide eyed sexiness to wide eyed determination to wide eyed resolve? Gimme a break. The only reason she gets offered terrible films like PULSE, COUPLE’S RETREAT, FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL and the upcoming romantic comedies she’s doing (which name I can’t recall due to how horrid and interchangeable they look) is because Hollywood knows they can’t throw a good script at her. She is Sarah Michelle Gellar Part Deux. A bad actress that fanboys inexplicably consider good, probably blinded by the fact that she is attractive. And Bell’s film career is going the same route as SMG’s. Which is nowhere.

        I am not a fan of J-lo’s, but let’s see Bell try to do an Out Of Sight, a U-Turn or a An Unfinished Life.

      • ash

        hey don’t diss jessica alba. well ok you can actually since she’s made some terrible movies. But she was fantastic in dark angel.
        and kristen bell ia also a very good actress.

      • Luddite

        The proof IS in the acting. Are you sure you actually watched Veronica Mars? She was fantastic – that she was never nominated for an Emmy was criminal. But I agree that she needs to head in a new direction – I’m still bummed she turned down the Lost offer.

      • Kate Schmate

        Actually, her “school of acting” was Tisch. That alone ranks her above the talentless pretty faces you seem to want to group her with.
        Have you seen Reefer Madness (the Musical)? Compare that to Veronica Mars–girl’s got range.

  • ritz

    Jennifer Aniston is sooo boring…all she does is toss her hair when she wants to show emotion…and that little girl cuteness makes me sick..

    • Alan of Montreal

      you need to see her in her TV series from 1992-93, The Edge. It was a sketch comedy show, and there’s one skit where she plays a dumb model that is absolutely ROFL funny!

  • ritz

    Jennifer Aniston is not an accomplished actress…it’s time to move on with other brilliant actors like Sandra Bullock

  • davidsask

    Sounds like with this glowing recommendation EW with their Front Row poll will be putting Sandra on the cover now over Avatar?

  • Ambient Lite

    I have a strong suspicion that Vince Vaughn could do drama, and do it well.

    • Linda L

      Yes he can. Check him out in The Cell with Jennifer Lopez and I believe it is called Return to Paradise with Joaquin Phoenix. But it seems like more people like him to do comedy

      • ReelTragedy

        A Cool Dry Place is also another good dramatic performance by Vaughn. He used to do a lot of dramatic roles but sadly he is just doing Vince as Vince in comedies, which is fine but I always enjoyed him in dramas too & would love to see that again.

      • Tania

        Wasn’t it Vaughn who played Norman Bates in the remake of “Psycho”?

      • Ambient Lite

        Yikes, I thought I was a fan of his but I actually had no idea about these roles. Looks like I need to hit the video store…

      • Clark

        Wasn’t that Vincent D’Onofrio?

    • dc

      You should watch Clay Pigeons.

      And because it needs to be said, Jen An’s quite talented. Poor scripts and a media driven, lie fueled personal life thrust upon us, isn’t her doing and that leads more to the anti JA sentiment. And it’s sad. You thought gossip about you in high school sucked? lol

      Imagine on a WORLD WIDE scale. For every bored, pathetic busy body that wants to comment what they “know”, instead of worrying about their own life.

      That’s why the idiots like the divorcing litter and a half having family are “celebrities”. Those insipid blonds that married on MTV.

      I miss the days of admiring people for their accomplishments and not obsessing because some fat butt, pampered, no name made a sex tape.

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