1. Gravity (2013)

IMDB Rating: 7.7/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 96%

Storyline: Gravity” tells the story of two astronauts – Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock), a medical engineer on her first shuttle mission, and veteran astronaut Matt Kowalsky (George Clooney) on his final mission before retiring. During a spacewalk, debris from a satellite crashes into their space shuttle, leaving it partially destroyed. Without communication with Earth, they’re completely alone, tethered to nothing but each other and spiraling into the blackness.

Why it’s a Major Performance: Sandra Bullock proved her acting prowess by portraying the role of a scientist stranded in space with utmost perfection. Her character needs to overcome panic and desolation while finding the courage and strength to survive. From the moment the disaster strikes to her desperate attempts to reach the Chinese Space Station with dwindling oxygen levels, Bullock delivers an outstanding performance of perseverance in the face of terrifying odds.

Why it’s a Major Performance: Her journey from a quiet scientist to a resourceful survivor is shown primarily through her focused performance since she’s frequently the only person on the screen, and it says a lot about her abilities as an actress. For an hour and a half, Bullock carries “Gravity” almost entirely on her own, making us feel every ounce of her fear, desperation, and determination. It’s hard to imagine anyone else in the role after seeing her flawless performance, which earned her another Academy Award nomination.

2. The Blind Side (2009)

IMDB Rating: 7.6/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 66%

Storyline: The Blind Side” follows the true story of Michael Oher (Quinton Aaron), a homeless teenager, who becomes an All-American football player with the help of a caring woman and her family. Sandra Bullock plays Leigh Anne Tuohy, a stern yet tender woman who takes in Michael after seeing him wandering in the cold and becomes his legal guardian.

Why it’s a Major Performance: Sandra Bullock gained worldwide acclaim for her performance in “The Blind Side.” Bullock’s nuanced portrayal of Leigh Anne was of a strong, passionate woman who’s not afraid to stand up for what she believes in regardless of societal norms. Leigh Anne was the opposite of Bullock’s previously portrayed characters, and Bullock had to step away from her comfort zone to bring Leigh Anne’s unyielding yet empathetic character to life.

Why it’s a Major Performance: Bullock masterfully depicts Leigh Anne’s transformation from a skeptical mother with trust issues to an empathetic guardian unreservedly devoted to Michael’s betterment. The determination Bullock exhibits in her portrayal of Leigh Anne resonated with audiences around the world. Her exceptional performance won her the Academy Award for Best Actress, rounding up her notable performance as one that will be remembered for years to come.

3. Speed (1994)

IMDB Rating: 7.2/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 94%

Storyline: In “Speed,” Sandra Bullock plays Annie Porter, an ordinary passenger on a bus that becomes the center of a deadly scenario. A bomb is planted on the bus by a disgruntled former bomb squad officer, triggering a high-stakes situation where the vehicle must maintain a speed of 50 miles per hour or the bomb will explode.

Why it’s a Major Performance: This was the film that shot Bullock to stardom. Bullock’s relatable portrayal of an everyday woman placed into a terrifying situation made audiences love her. She perfectly displays a blend of fear and bravery in her character. Her wit, charm, and authenticity make for an exceptionally memorable performance which without a doubt made her a standout in the action genre.

Why it’s a Major Performance: What sets Bullock’s performance apart in “Speed” was her ability to inject her unique brand of humor and relatability into a character that could have easily been a typical distressed damsel. Rather than being a mere sidekick to Reeves’ character, she played an integral role in carrying the nail-biting narrative forward. This solid performance from Bullock marks the beginning of a career filled with diverse and multi-layered roles.

4. Miss Congeniality (2000)

IMDB Rating: 6.2/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 42%

Storyline: In “Miss Congeniality,” Bullock takes on the role of Gracie Hart, an unrefined FBI agent who must go undercover as a pageant contestant to prevent a group from bombing the event. The movie showcases her hilarious transformation from rough-and-tumble cop to glamorous beauty queen.

Why it’s a Major Performance: Bullock shines by embracing Grace’s unconventional, unapologetic tomboy FBI agent that’s thrown into the world of pageantry. Her journey from the blunt, rough-around-the-edges agent to an undercover beauty pageant contestant is absolutely endearing. Bullock prevents the character from turning into a caricature by treating her with sincerity and warmth.

Why it’s a Major Performance: Bullock’s performance was praised for crafting a well-rounded character transcending superficial looks and focusing on substance and values. She delivers excellent comedic timing while also bringing a strong emotional core to the role, making “Miss Congeniality” an iconic film in her career due to her versatile performance.

5. Crash (2004)

IMDB Rating: 7.8/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 74%

Storyline: “Crash” follows the intersecting lives of several racially diverse characters in Los Angeles over a 36-hour period. Bullock plays Jean Cabot, the affluent, prejudiced wife of the District Attorney (Brendan Fraser), whose life changes drastically when she becomes a victim of a crime.

Why it’s a Major Performance: Sandra Bullock gives a raw performance in “Crash”, representing a character filled with stereotypes and overt racism. Despite being a mostly deplorable character, Bullock manages to instill a feel of sympathy for Jean due to her convincing portrayal of terror and vulnerability. Bullock manages to convey an intricate portrait of her character, making her believable despite her flaws.

Why it’s a Major Performance: Bullock’s ability to portray a complicated and flawed person speaks volumes about her capabilities as an actress. Her portrayal of Jean showcases her versatility to go into the dark side of human nature and emerge successfully. This performance proved that Bullock was capable of playing more than just the loveable lead in a rom-com, carving her niche as a profound and versatile performer.

6. While You Were Sleeping (1995)

IMDB Rating: 6.7/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 80%

Storyline: “While You Were Sleeping” centers on Lucy Moderatz (Bullock), a lonely token collector for the Chicago Transit Authority. She saves a handsome stranger who falls on the tracks, and while he’s in a coma, his appreciative family mistakenly believes she’s his fiancee.

Why it’s a Major Performance: Since her breakthrough role in “Speed,” Bullock became known for her relatable, girl-next-door image, and these qualities shine through in her performance as Lucy. Lucy is a complex character, vulnerably lonely yet assertive and independent, and Bullock encompasses all these traits seamlessly in her portrayal.

Why it’s a Major Performance: Her fine balance of vulnerability, charm, humor, and honesty brought Lucy to life. Bullock manages to keep her character grounded and authentic, ensuring the audience to root for her happy ending. Her performance is remembered as one of her most endearing and truly showcases her distinct niche in the romantic-comedy genre.

7. The Proposal (2009)

IMDB Rating: 6.7/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 44%

Storyline: In “The Proposal,” Bullock plays Margaret Tate, a stern, cold editor-in-chief who forces her young assistant Andrew (Ryan Reynolds) to marry her to avoid deportation to Canada. An unexpected romantic comedy unfolds as the two navigate their fake engagement.

Why it’s a Major Performance: In a genre often rife with clichés, Bullock’s sharp timing, natural charm and ability to embody her character’s transformation from a hardened boss to a woman unveiling her vulnerability makes “The Proposal” a standout. Bullock’s performance in this atypical romantic-comedy made the movie palatable to an audience that might have been opposed to such an outrageous premise.

Why it’s a Major Performance: Sandra manages to bring humor, nuanced depth and a touch of vulnerability to what could otherwise be a one-dimensional character. She exhibits strong comedic timing in her delivery of lines and fantastic chemistry with co-star Ryan Reynolds. Bullock’s charm and wit made the film an enjoyable watch, and it remains one of her most memorable romantic comedies to date.

8. The Heat (2013)

IMDB Rating: 6.6/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 65%

Storyline: In “The Heat,” Bullock partners with Melissa McCarthy to form an exceptional yet odd police duo. Bullock plays Sarah Ashburn, an uptight and ambitious FBI Special Agent who’s forced to team up with foul-mouthed Boston cop Shannon Mullins (McCarthy) to solve a drug case.

Why it’s a Major Performance: Bullock’s performance as the prim and professional Sarah Ashburn plays off wonderfully against Melissa McCarthy’s crass, streetwise cop. The contrast between their personalities, coupled with their on-screen chemistry, makes for a fantastic comedic duo. By playing straight-woman to McCarthy’s character’s outlandish behavior, Bullock further cemented her place as a versatile actor and comedy star.

Why it’s a Major Performance: Sandra’s comedic timing and ability to handle physical comedy are on full display in this role. Despite being wildly different from her previous roles, Bullock comfortably steps into the shoes of Sarah, taking her comedic performance to another level. Through this role, she proves that she can shine in a broad spectrum of characters, from dramatic to humorous.

9. The Lake House (2006)

IMDB Rating: 6.8/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 36%

Storyline: “The Lake House” is a romantic drama where Bullock plays Kate Forster, a lonely doctor who begins exchanging love letters with a former resident of her new lakeside house, only to discover that they’re living two years apart.

Why it’s a Major Performance: Bullock’s performance in “The Lake House” exhibits her prowess in emotive storytelling. From capturing a profound sense of loneliness to portraying an exhilarating whirlwind romance with a man from the past, Bullock’s portrayal of Kate is captivating. She evokes the character’s emotions with great sensitivity.

Why it’s a Major Performance: This film was another feather in Bullock’s cap. The role required a delicate balance between the surreal and the emotional, a task which Bullock handled with remarkable finesse. Despite the movie’s complex timeline, Bullock’s performance helps the audience empathize with Kate, underlining her remarkable skill to communicate emotional complexity through her characters.

10. The Net (1995)

IMDB Rating: 5.9/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 39%

Storyline: “The Net” presents Bullock as Angela Bennett, a computer programmer who stumbles upon a conspiracy, putting her life and the lives of those around her in great danger. As she tries to escape, her identity is erased, and she must avoid capture while trying to regain her life.

Why it’s a Major Performance: Possibly one of Sandra’s most underrated roles to date, “The Net” showcases Sandra Bullock convincingly portraying a character facing an extreme, techno-thriller scenario. Her character showcases intensity, intelligence, and vulnerability all at once; a role that significantly marked Bullock as an actress who could carry a thriller on her own with ease and credibility.

Why it’s a Major Performance: As Bennett, Bullock delivers a performance rich in paranoia and fear while holding onto her determination and courage. Her portrayal of a woman wronged by technology and fighting back against all odds was not only inspiring but also eerily prescient for its time. Being an outlier in her filmography, Bullock manages to handle the demanding narrative with grace and intensity, proving her capacity for range within different genres.