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Bullock's tough charm pays off

The first time anyone paid much attention to Sandra Bullock she was close to being thrown under a bus in the 1994 action thriller "Speed." But then tough has always suited the actress. Even when the game was romantic comedy, which it often was, Bullock was more likely to tackle than kiss -- the undercover FBI klutz in "Miss Congeniality," the publishing shark in "The Proposal."

The first time the academy took notice of the 45-year-old actress was in "The Blind Side," as the affluent Memphis, Tenn., mom who takes a black teenager off the streets and into her heart, though they'd no doubt counted her among their guilty pleasures for years.

Sunday night's Oscar win was 23 years in the making, starting with a bit part in a B movie that never made it to the big screen. Thankfully the rest of America has paid attention for years. If an award has the word "choice" in it, Bullock's name is there -- the big orange Blimps from Kids, Best Liplock from Teens, but whatever the venue, favorite actress was usually what she won.

She earned her Oscar as Leigh Anne Tuohy, smartly dressed, sassy, quintessentially Southern with a passion for family and football; her vulnerability a surprise, and hard not to root for. It's not that she hasn't dipped into drama; there have been John Grisham-styled thrillers, and she was in the "Crash" ensemble. But until now, a dramatic film has never rested so squarely, so comfortably on her shoulders.

From the looks of it, she's returning to comedy full time. Still, I hope "The Blind Side" will eventually throw her some outside passes, let her go deep, and long. She's a player, this one -- now she's got an Oscar to prove it.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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