Ever since Sandra Bullock grabbed the wheel of a hijacked transit bus in the 1994 action film, Speed, her career, much like the odometer in that movie, hasn’t slowed down. The 54-year-old Oscar-winner’s continued success on the big screen can be attributed to her diverse filmography and her ability to tackle multiple genres. She just as easily commands the screen as the romantic lead in The Proposal, as she does as the badass sidekick in The Heat or the crazy stalker with a penchant for crossword puzzles in All About Steve. In her latest thriller Bird Box, which is based on Josh Malerman’s 2014 post-apocalyptic novel of the same name, Bullock and her two children wear a blindfold for the duration of the Netflix original. Which, honestly, sounds more intriguing than it really is. Outside of Bird Box, however, there are plenty of entertainment gems in Bullock’s vast filmography. Here’s a definitive ranking of 32 of her best movies to date.
A Time to Kill
Joel Schumacher’s adaptation of John Grisham’s best-selling novel brought some of the biggest names in Hollywood together: Matthew McConaughey, Samuel L. Jackson, Sutherland, and Kevin Spacey. Bullock shines in the role of attorney Ellen Roark. Oh, and be honest, in the midst of hoping justice prevails, were you secretly hoping McConaughey and Bullock would hook up? Just us? Okay.
This is the movie that marked the turning point in Bullock’s career. Though she’s surrounded by legendary actors such as Reeves, Dennis Hopper, and Jeff Daniels in the film, watching her take control of a passenger bus and stand up to the bad guy will leave you feeling empowered. But don’t count on Bullock and Reeves reuniting for another Speed movie in the future. “We’ll be 65,” Reeves joked with Variety on May 16, during an episode of ‘The Big Ticket’ podcast. “I’m driving [or] Annie’s driving because I don’t remember where I am.”
You didn’t think we’d actually leave out one of the funniest movies of 2009, did you? Bullock is sharp as ever as the workaholic book editor, Margaret Tate, who is about to be deported back to Canada unless she marries to keep her Visa status. She gets her unwilling assistant, Andrew Paxton (Ryan Reynolds), to agree to do it. What starts out as an engagement of convenience ends up turning into a unexpected romance. Try not to cry from laughing so hard when Bullock and Betty White hilariously sing Lil’ Jon’s 2002 hit, “Get Low.”
Three words: Bernice, Bernice, Bernice. Bullock doesn’t get enough credit for her performance as Birdee Pruitt in this near-perfect film. Beyond reclaiming her life after her husband publicly embarrasses her, there’s also the incredible rapport she has with Harry Connick Jr. in the 1998 film. Gena Rowlands is also fantastic as the quintessential Southern mom. Not to mention, Bullock earned her first producer cred with Hope Floats, which is only bested by our number one pick.
The Blind Side
Bullock had one heck of a year in 2009 Not only did she achieve critical and box-office success with The Proposal, but she also won Best Actress for her role in the sports drama, The Blind Side. Based on the true story of NFL player Michael Oher and the 2006 book by Michael Lewis, Bullock stars as Leigh Anne Tuohy. She embodies everything about the strong-willed and caring Tennessee mom who took Oher into her family’s home and helped him get into college—and later, become an NFL draft pick.
While not the worst of Bullock’s performances, this 1993 flick comes in last because her character, Diane, is missing for most of it. After being kidnapped from a gas station, her boyfriend, played by Kiefer Sutherland, searches for her for three years. Trust us, the cat-and-mouse game between Sutherland and Diane’s abductor isn’t worth it. Instead, track down the 1988 Dutch original, Spoorloos, from which this remake is based, and turn on the subtitles for a real scare.
If only we could borrow Bullock’s blindfold and unsee the 2018 horror film that sparked the “Bird Box challenge” and its subsequent injuries on social media. Bullock stars as Malorie, a mother of two young children. People are driven to suicide once they see this “thing,” so the only way to protect themselves is by covering their eyes. Fortunately, Bullock and her co-star Trevante Rhodes aren’t the reason the movie is a huge letdown. For nearly two hours Bird Box builds up this terrifying “thing,” only to never show viewers what they’re supposed to be afraid of, because, you know, everyone is blindfolded.
The Thing Called Love
Still finding her footing as an actress, Bullock stretched her acting muscles in this ‘93 dramedy, joining the late River Phoenix, Samantha Mathis, and Dermot Mulroney. The film revolves around their complicated relationships, as they try to make it big in the music industry in Nashville. “Stand by your dream” is the theme of the movie, and it seems like a mantra Bullock follows both on and off-screen.
Our Brand Is Crisis
We’re not exactly sure how this 2015 film, featuring Bullock and Billy Bob Thornton, could be labeled a “comedy.” It’s not particularly laugh-out-loud funny, although Bullock is pleasant to watch in the role of Jane Bodine, a political campaign strategist. If international affairs and elections pique your interest, then you’ll probably be able to get past the sluggish pace and directionless plot.
Love Potion No. 9
Bullock’s first appearance in a major film was in this 1992 teen romance also starring Tate Donovan and Anne Bancroft. The concept of nerds falling in love is nothing new, thus the reason for our lower ranking. However, it’s not the bottom of the lot because of how effortlessly Bullock transitioned from a shy, geeky animal psychologist to a sexy femme fatale.
Another thrilling heist film was added to the Ocean’s franchise in 2018, and this time the talented thieves are all women—a diverse group we should add. Bullock, as Debbie Ocean, absolutely nails this role as the leader of the female-centric rat pack, which includes Cate Blanchett, Rihanna, Anne Hathaway, Mindy Kaling, Sarah Paulson, Awkwafina, and Helena Bonham Carter. Its only flaw is the lack of character development with the phenomenal women featured here.
Bullock and George Clooney as astronauts floating in outer space is about as dreamy as it sounds. Unfortunately, in the 2013 drama, where Bullock was nominated for best actress at the Academy Awards, there was very little screen time between the two. For most of the movie, Bullock is a one-woman show. Single-acting roles are difficult. Luckily, Bullock commands our attention. Still, we understand why she says she was “depressed” filming the movie. It’s exactly how we felt when Clooney drifted away, too.
We applaud Crash for attempting to highlight racial tension in an honest way. The 2004 drama chronicles interlocking stories of different ethnic groups and their biases. Bullock portrays the openly-prejudiced wife of a district attorney. The problem here is that Bullock practically disappears in the role of Jean Cabot, and her unabashedly reveling in her white privilege is an uncomfortable watch.
Two If by Sea
Falling in line with the popular romantic comedies of the ‘90s, Two If By Sea pairs Bullock with comedian Denis Leary. Love and larceny is the pulse of this 1996 film., with Leary’s character promising his longtime girlfriend, Roz, that his next robbery will be their last. Bullock is right at home playing her lovable, fun-loving self. But you’re left wanting more from such an exciting storyline.
All About Steve
For all the comedic steps forward Bullock took with 2009’s breakout hit, The Proposal, she took a few steps backwards with this over-the-top rom-com. Everyone in the 2009 release, from Bradley Cooper and Bullock to Keith David and Thomas Haden Church, holds their own. But do we really need another movie showcasing a misunderstood, crazed stalker? By the time you get to the end and Bullock finally asserts herself, you’re already over the ridiculous antics she puts audiences through on her journey to self-love and confidence.
Certainly ahead of its time where Internet privacy is concerned. In this 1995 cyber thriller Bullock plays a lonely computer programmer who spends most of her time on the computer, even when she’s not working. Her life is completely upended when someone starts stalking her online. Try not to get hung up on the dated technological terms, like floppy disks and what not, when watching this one.
Imagine living in a dystopian world where there’s only one restaurant, and it just so happens to be Taco Bell? Well, that’s what you can expect to see in the 1993 science-fiction film, starring Bullock, Wesley Snipes, and Sylvester Stallone. The cult-classic is not without its flaws, but Bullock gives us a glimpse at what it means to “live mas” as she hunts down notorious criminal, Simon Phoenix (Snipes).
Speed 2: Cruise Control
After the success of the first Speed film, the powers that be in Hollywood thought it’d be a great idea to put Bullock on a fast cruise ship with the handsome Jason Patric, plus a maniac (Willem Dafoe) and his creepy leeches. But we already know what disaster looks like on the ocean, thanks to James Cameron’s Titanic—and that movie was much better. Or maybe we’re still in our feelings about action star Keanu Reeves being missing from the sequel.
Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous
Though not as funny or charming as the first Miss Congeniality, Bullock and actress Regina King have great chemistry here. Picking back up where the origin story left off, FBI agent Gracie Hart joins Sam Fuller (King) in Vegas to find her missing friend and fellow beauty pageant contestant, Cheryl Frasier (Heather Burns). But you know how they say whatever happens in Vegas stays in Vegas? That probably should’ve applied to the 2005 sequel.
Murder by Numbers
There’s a chance you might’ve missed this 2002 psychological thriller in Bullock’s long list of films. Here, she plays a detective name Cassie Mayweather that’s tasked with solving a murder committed by two spoiled high school students, one who just so happens to be the handsome Ryan Gosling. Eh. We’ve seen Bullock as a better police officer with more spar-worthy assailants to chase down.
While You Were Sleeping
Forewarning: This one’s complicated. Bullock is a lonely transit worker name Lucy Eleanor Moderatz. She saves the man (Peter Gallagher) she’s been pining for from an oncoming train. But before he can repay her back, he ends up in a coma. With Lucy by his bedside, his family mistakes her for his girlfriend. Oh, but there’s another hiccup. She ends up crushing on the comatose guy’s younger brother.
Forces of Nature
This 1999 rom-com perfectly depicts the fear soon-to-be brides have about bachelor parties. Ben Affleck’s character is getting married. On the way to the ceremony, he meets Bullock on his way from New York City to Savannah, Georgia. But when something goes wrong on their flight, they work together to ensure Affleck makes his wedding on time. It’s an adorable romance, but Bullock and Affleck, here, are just as unmatched as their characters are.
Two Weeks Notice
In the 2002 rom-com, Bullock plays Lucy Kelson, a lawyer hired to work for Hugh Grant’s character’s real-estate firm. But when the needy and entitled Grant makes things insufferable for Lucy, she puts in her two weeks’ resignation. Let’s just say he doesn’t let her go without a fight. The movie is problematic, especially in light of the Time’s Up movement, with Grant using his authority and power to bully Bullock into working for him. But they’re just so good together on-screen, we’re torn between waving our feminist flag and rooting for the couple.
The Lake House
Bullock and Reeves reunited again for this 2007 sleeper hit (their first was Speed). But this time, instead of falling in love on an ill-fated bus ride through Los Angeles, a special lake house is at the center of this moving story. Essentially, Reeves and Bullock are pen pals, separated not just by space but also time. She’s in the year 2006 and he, in the future, in 2008. While the idea of two strangers writing love letters to each other is promising enough to earn a top 10 placement, the confusing time travel element is why it doesn’t rank higher.
This 2007 thriller is tragically underrated. So we righted the wrong by putting it in our top 10. Unlike The Lake House, the time jumps in Premonition actually make sense. For all its twists and turns, it’s easy to overlook Bullock’s subtle yet complex performance as a wife and mother determined to uncover the truth about the past, the dangers of the present, and the uncertainty of her family’s future.
Once upon a time in 1998 Nicole Kidman and Bullock portrayed sisters in this fantasy film. Oh, and did we mention the pretty duo are witches who eat chocolate cake for breakfast? Dessert in the morning and the ability to cast spells? Sounds pretty cool. Well, not exactly: Along with their powers, they’re also cursed. Any man they meet and fall in love with ends up dying. So yeah, it’s safe to say that Sally (Bullock) and Gillian Owens’s (Kidman) love life is D.O.A. (dead on arrival).
In Love and War
Okay, you had us at Ernest Hemingway. Sandra Bullock and Chris O’Donnell star in this 1996 love story about the literary genius, who is responsible for poignant novels such as The Sun Also Rises and For Whom the Bell Tolls. The touching movie depicts Hemingway’s experience during World War I. He is injured and sent to a military hospital in Italy to recover. That’s when he meets and falls in love with his nurse, Agnes von Kurowsky (Bullock).
We never knew we needed these two together in a female buddy cop movie until we got 2013’s The Heat. The unlikely combo results in a lot of laughs, drunken nights, and self-discovery. Bullock doesn’t play second fiddle to Melissa McCarthy’s physical comedy either. She commands the screen just as much as her hilarious partner, whom she reluctantly teams up with to take down a drug lord. Crossing our fingers for the sequel fans so deserve.
Yes, Sandra, we really love you in this one. If you take away anything from 2000’s action comedy, Miss Congeniality, it’s these words from actor Michael Caine: “Smilers wear crowns and losers wear frowns.” Okay, there are plenty of other tropes and stereotypes to unpack here, too. But Bullock, Caine, and Bratt make a movie about the pageant world actually entertaining and memorable.
Divine Secrets of Ya-Ya Sisterhood
Based on Rebecca Wells’s novel of the same name, Bullock plays a successful playwright name Siddalee Walker. When she’s interviewed by a magazine about her latest production, she accidentally reveals some secrets about her unhappy childhood. Once her mother, Viv (Ellen Burstyn), reads the sensationalized profile story, all hell breaks loose. To defend Viv’s honor, her Ya-Ya Sisters kidnap Siddalee to clear up the misconception Sidda has about her mother.
Similar to In Love and War, Bullock transports back in time to play the love interest of another famed writer in this 2006 period film. This time it’s Truman Capote. If you enjoyed the 2005 movie Capote, you definitely have to watch Bullock as Nell Harper Lee, Capote’s research assistant. Her character helps him to unearth the information that would later inspire and make up one his best works, the true-crime thriller In Cold Blood.
The title pretty much gives away the premise of this 2000 drama. Bullock plays Gwen Cummings, an alcoholic journalist who works for a newspaper in New York City. When her drinking and hard partying go overboard at her sister’s wedding, she is forced to go to rehab for—you guessed it—28 days. While there, she meets a few patients who help her to turn her life around, one of them being actor Viggo Mortensen.