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Sandra Bullock in her most iconic roles

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There was once a time when women over the age of 35 were branded too old to secure film roles of any substance. But, on her 54th birthday, multi-award-winning actress Sandra Bullock continues to prove the absurdity of that dated myth.

Bullock’s established career has seen her transform into a vast array of characters from nearly every genre, proving her versatility and desire to deviate from her comfort zone.

In celebration of both her acclaimed career and 54th birthday, here are five of Sandra Bullock’s most iconic film roles.

1. Debbie Ocean – Ocean’s 8 (2018)

Bullock’s most recent role sees her organising and executing a grand-scale jewellery heist straight out of prison. Debbie Ocean, the younger sister of Ocean’s 11, 12 and 13’s Danny Ocean is just as deceitfully charming as her older brother but holds her own as a captivating and complex character.

Leading a group of female con artists right into the heart of the Met Gala is no easy feat but Ocean’s persuasive and organised nature makes her the perfect criminal boss. And Bullock steps into this role with such ease that you won’t be leaving your favourite necklace lying around near her anytime soon.

2. Jane Bodine – Our Brand is Crisis (2015)

Taking a dive down the political drama route, Our Brand is Crisis showcases Bullock’s transformation into political campaign strategist ‘Calamity’ Jane Bodine. Arguably one of Bullock’s most complex characters, Bodine is flawed but quick-thinking, irresponsible but also determined, instinctive and manipulative. These conflicting characteristics make her a woman of intrigue. Bodine keeps the election campaign moving but also the film itself, keeping viewers on their toes from the start.

Despite her flaws and questionable strategies, it is not hard to get behind her journey and, when it comes down to it, Bodine owns her mistakes and has her morals in order. The powerful but flawed female modern cinema needs.

3. Dr. Ryan Stone – Gravity (2013)

Lost and alone in the vastest scape known to man and Bullock still commands attention in every second of 2013’s sci-fi thriller Gravity. Taken to all new heights, this film centres around engineer Dr. Ryan Stone as she attempts to find her way back to earth after an accident sent her drifting out into space.

Dr. Ryan Stone is the embodiment of loneliness and pure human emotion. Oscillating between drive and hopelessness, Bullock builds a strong and highly relatable character despite her extremely foreign surroundings, and the result is an incredibly emotional and captivating viewing experience.

4. Leigh Anne Tuohy – The Blind Side (2009)

Based on a true story, The Blind Side sees Sandra Bullock play devout Christian Leigh Anne Tuohy as she takes in and cares for homeless teenager Michael Oher. Leigh Anne is the epitome of independent thought and open-mindedness. Despite her religious community outwardly voicing their objection to her choices, she follows her own morals and does what she believes to be right.

Whilst not showing strength in the same sense as some of Bullock’s other characters – like Dr. Ryan Stone or even Annie Porter of Speed (1994) fame – Leigh Anne sheds the toughness of Bullock's other roles and proves to be a woman of admirable strength emotionally and morally.

5. Gracie Hart – Miss Congeniality (2000)

Gracie Hart is a character all too familiar in the modern day. Intelligent, independent and more than capable at her job but overlooked in her male-dominated environment. Despite only being truly acknowledged when her male FBI colleagues need an attractive female undercover agent, Gracie Hart doesn’t let her gender or appearance define her.

Proving herself to be resilient, quick thinking and compassionate, Gracie transcends the typical single, female agent characteristics and, whilst facing many stereotypical troubles, shows that women are just as capable as men (because apparently that needed proving).

As is clear from this small selection of roles, Sandra Bullock’s career has gone from strength to strength over the past three decades and will continue to do so for years to come. Only time can tell which female icons Bullock will provide cinema with in the future, but there is no doubt that they are ones to get excited for.

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