In the course of her 20 years of stardom, Bullock has played everything from a duplicitous CTA token collector to a death-defying astronaut, while never sacrificing an ounce of the charm that made her America's Sweetheart. (Well, except maybe in Crash, but that was on purpose.)
In honor of Bullock hitting the half-century mark, let's look back at our five favorite roles.
Lucy, While You Were Sleeping
Bullock earned her fame with a supporting role as the driver of a bomb-laden bus in Speed; when it came time for her first starring role, she continued the transit theme, playing a CTA token collector in While You Were Sleeping, and the role made her a star. Look at her interactions with Bill Pullman in this clip. Neither of them says a word, but their chemistry is off the charts.
Gracie Hart, Miss Congeniality
More than any of her peers, Bullock seems to gravitate toward law-enforcement roles, in films both serious (Murder by Numbers) and … less so. As an FBI agent who goes undercover at a beauty pageant, Bullock in Miss Congeniality established a rom-com persona – ambitious, tightly wound, secretly nerdy – that she would use for most of her biggest hits.
Leigh Anne Tuohy, The Blind Side
Bullock was certainly not disrespected in the years leading up to The Blind Side, but as with Julia Roberts, the Oscar transformed her from a universally well-regarded actress into a national treasure.
Ashburn, The Heat
The Miss Congeniality series always did have more com than rom, but Bullock's most recent stint as an FBI agent, in 2013's The Heat, took it a step further, replacing the romance with a platonic friendship between Bullock and Melissa McCarthy. As the video above proves, the results speak for themselves.
Ryan Stone, Gravity
Bullock may have been in every scene of While You Were Sleeping, but in Gravity she's in every shot. In a feat of acting not seen since The Passion of Joan of Arc, Bullock holds our attention for 90 heart-pounding minutes.
Michael Ferguson / Globe