Total Recall: Sandra Bullock's Best Movies

We run down the best-reviewed work of the Proposal star.

Her rise to fame in the mid '90s was followed by a box office drought so profound that it was hard not to wonder if she'd ever find her way out of it -- but the 21st century has been pretty good to Sandra Bullock so far, granting her successes both commercial (Miss Congeniality, Two Weeks Notice) and critical (Crash). To celebrate her resurgence, as well as the arrival of her latest romantic comedy (The Proposal, co-starring Ryan Reynolds) in theaters this weekend, we decided to devote this week's Total Recall to a look back at Ms. Bullock's 10 best-reviewed films!

As always, we spun the dials on the Tomatometer and allowed the world's finest film critics to do the work for us, lining up Bullock's films according to the amount of critical adulation they received. (Translation: Two if by Sea did not make the list.) With a long list of movies on her résumé, it's a safe bet that whether you enjoy Speed-style action or romantic comedies like While You Were Sleeping, our Sandra Bullock Total Recall will have something for you. Count down with us, and then visit her complete filmography for a closer look at her career!


44%
Template Image
Rotten

10. Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood

The lack of high-quality roles for female actors in major Hollywood films isn't exactly a secret -- and it's precisely why any time a "woman's movie" comes along, you can pretty much count on a passel of A-list talent showing up for the casting call. Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood did not disappoint, enlisting Ellen Burstyn, Maggie Smith, Ashley Judd, and Sandra Bullock to help Callie Khouri bring Rebecca Wells' bestselling novel (adapted here by Mark Andrus) to the big screen. Though critics weren't overly impressed with the results -- the Guardian's Peter Bradshaw asked "What have we done to deserve this treacly, badly-acted nonsense? Whose children have we run over in a previous life?" -- Ya-Ya still managed to continue a limited career resurgence for Bullock, bridging the commercial success of 2000's Miss Congeniality with 2002's Two Weeks Notice. Many critics were also careful to make the distinction between the film's shortcomings and the cast's strengths; as Scott Nash of Three Movie Buffs wrote, "there are some truly great actresses in this movie, but nearly all of them are wasted playing caricatures." Ultimately, it was a movie that understood its target demographic and was willing to forsake broad appeal in order to reach it -- something noted by Rob Gonsalves of eFilmCritic, who wrote, "I heard something in the audience for Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood I don't hear often anymore: the sound of middle-aged women laughing."


46%
Template Image
Rotten

9. Forces of Nature

After making a name for herself with Speed and While You Were Sleeping, Bullock seemed a little unsure of what she should do with it, and spent the remainder of the decade teetering from one misbegotten project to the next. This dark period included such infamous duds as The Net, Two If by Sea, and Speed 2: Cruise Control, and after awhile, it seemed like she was destined to fade into obscurity. Truth be told, 1999's Forces of Nature -- a romantic comedy which cast her as a vaguely punky, heavily mascaraed free spirit who fills a straight-laced Ben Affleck with doubts about his impending marriage to Maura Tierney -- didn't really do anything to reverse this skid; though it topped the box office during its opening weekend, Nature was released in the middle of March, when pickings are slim and moviegoers tend to show up for just about anything (example: Patch Adams and Message in a Bottle, which hit #1 earlier in the year). In addition to fading fast at the cineplex, Nature left most critics underwhelmed; responses ran the gamut from breezily dismissive (TV Guide's Maitland McDonagh called it "slackly paced") to downright hostile (Time's Richard Corliss deemed it "DreamWorks' first reprehensible fiasco"). Amidst all the slings and arrows, however, were some kind words for Bullock's work, which many writers enjoyed more than the movie itself. As Margaret C. McGurk of the Cincinnati Enquirer wrote, "her natural charm dances off the screen with giddy abandon. Unfortunately, the movie lets her down."


57%
Template Image
Rotten

8. The Thing Called Love

It was directed by Peter Bogdanovich and featured River Phoenix in one of his last roles, but neither of those things were enough to prevent The Thing Called Love from suffering a quick and ignominous defeat at the box office, grossing a little over $1 million against a paltry $14 million budget. Of course, commercial disappointments were nothing new for Bogdanovich -- in Channel 4 Film's review for The Thing Called Love, the reviewer noted that "his curse seems to be that his work will forever be unfashionable" -- but with a talented young cast and a plot that revolved around the lives of aspiring country musicians during a time when the genre was experiencing a Garth Brooks-fueled resurgence, this would have seemed a relatively safe bet, especially with cameos from country stars with both commercial clout (Trisha Yearwood, Pam Tillis) and artistic cred (K.T. Oslin, Kevin Welch). Most importantly (for the purposes of our list, anyway), Love features an early performance from an on-the-cusp Sandra Bullock, appearing as Linda Lue Linden, a Nashville hopeful who befriends the movie's central character, Miranda Presley (played by Samantha Mathis). As you might guess, it's a movie where nothing terribly earth-shattering happens, but it's still got its director's famous touch; as Geoff Andrew of Time Out wrote, "Bogdanovich's modest staging is occasionally awkward -- his kids still watch John Wayne movies at the drive-in -- but there's a convincing sense of what Nashville's like and how country music works."


60%
Template Image
Fresh

7. Wrestling Ernest Hemingway

With a cast that included Robert Duvall, Richard Harris, and Shirley MacLaine, Wrestling Ernest Hemingway should have been able to amass more than the paltry $278,000 it grossed during its theatrical run, and should have provided Sandra Bullock with a perfectly pleasant, down-to-earth dramatic counterweight to her appearance in Demolition Man earlier in the year. Alas, Hemingway never found its audience -- although it did earn a number of positive reviews from critics who appreciated the way Randa Haines' gentle look at a pair of lonely senior citizens (written by Steve Conrad) made the most of Duvall and Harris' considerable gifts. Here, Bullock fills the role typically assigned young actresses in movies about old men -- namely, that of the sweet and innocent muse (in this case, a waitress named Elaine) who is the unwitting object of a retiree's affection. Though understandably not the focus of the movie -- TV Guide's review described her simply as "pretty" -- Bullock made the most of an early opportunity to share screen time with some real heavyweights in a movie that, whatever its flaws, didn't allow its stars to hide behind adrenalized action sequences or special effects. As Scott Renshaw wrote in his review, "Wrestling Ernest Hemingway is melodramatic, and its pacing is rather slow, but it is also filled with fine acting and quirky but believable relationships, and ultimately proves quite satisfying."


64%
Template Image
Fresh

6. Demolition Man

The year before Speed turned her into a household name, Sandra Bullock scored a supporting role in Demolition Man, a future-set, Joel Silver-produced action extravaganza that pitted Sylvester Stallone against Wesley Snipes in a battle so big that even Sting showed up for the soundtrack. (Possibly just for the opportunity to repurpose an old Police tune as a solo track, but still.) As corrections officer Lenina Huxley, Bullock gave Stallone his most adorably diminutive co-star since Estelle Getty in Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot -- and her character's fascination with icky 20th-century culture helped inject a touch of relatability (and, let's face it, sex appeal) into what would otherwise have been just your garden-variety blockbuster about two impossibly built dudes blowing stuff up as they try to kill each other with the fate of the world hanging in the balance. While not a classic by any stretch, Demolition Man lived up to the mayhem implied in its title, increased Bullock's profile at the box office, and earned begrudging approval from critics like Chris Hicks of the Deseret News, who wrote, "with Snipes giving his role everything he's got -- a considerable amount by any measure -- and with some amusing bits tying together the action scenes, there is plenty of eye candy at work here, which should satisfy action fans."

Comments

Johan L.

Johan Larsson

Not very impressive for such a long career.

Jun 18 - 08:47 AM

Castor Troy

Derek Williams

Speed got a 90%? lol Thats awesome!

Jun 18 - 08:52 AM

inactive user

Jared King

Sandra Bullock's best movies. "Crash", "Speed"..."Crash" again. You know, this is one sad career.

Jun 18 - 09:28 AM

CFM

'schak Attack

I liked Time To Kill, Crash, While You Were Sleeping, and Speed.

After that... *winces*

Jun 18 - 09:41 AM

Rdog

David Jones

I like A Time to Kill but that's about it.

Jun 18 - 09:56 AM

Brett S.

Brett Sims

Missing all kinds of movies, Hope Floats was decent, Love Potion No.9. She has alot more then what they are reviewing.

Jun 18 - 11:18 AM

meredith c.

meredith chandler

honestly, she's one reason i actually sat down & took the time out to watch miss congeniality! to me, she & julia roberts both make me laugh & i

Jun 22 - 04:10 AM

meredith c.

meredith chandler

honestly, she's one reason i actually sat down & took the time out to watch miss congeniality! to me, she & julia roberts both make me laugh & i

Jun 22 - 04:12 AM

kipcanyon

kip canyon

Speed is just an awesome movie...she actually does have a crappy career.

Jun 18 - 11:35 AM

JohnnyJonJon

Jonathan Groen

I had no idea she produced the George Lopez show. Wow. Just...wow. Great lady though. She's still a cutie.

Jun 18 - 11:42 AM

Greg_Arious

Josh Cane

LMAO that speed is at 90% and speed 2 is at 4%. Best and worst movie respectively.

Jun 18 - 11:50 AM

Bigbrother

Big Brother

Poor man's Julia Roberts, but I guess there are worse actresses to be a poor mans version of.

Jun 18 - 12:09 PM

Bigbrother

Big Brother

Can't believe A Time to Kill is sub-70%. I love that movie and thought it would rate higher than that.

Jun 18 - 12:12 PM

Nine Oh Two

joe schmoe

A Time To Kill!? That movie was the ultimate cheese. It was Grisham's first novel and it shows. I love the way he portrays all his evil characters 2 dimensionally, than he gives all his good characters these cheesy speeches that go on for too long. And that whole scene at the end w/ the kids playing together at the park, what an effin' stupid, cookie cutter, hollywood ending. Like they would have ever done that unless the events that took place before hadn't occured.

It was almost as bad as Crash, another racially charged movie from Sandra Bullock. I think people who like crash live in a bubble and think race relations really are the way they are depicted in this movie.

Jun 18 - 02:04 PM

Bigbrother

Big Brother

Must you piss on everything I like? I still loved A Time to Kill and if anything I like it more because you didn't like it, how ya like dem apples biznatch.

Jun 18 - 03:10 PM

Geep C.

Geep Copeland

a poor mans julia roberts? you are an idiot cause bullock is way hotter and they are both bad actors.

Jun 18 - 02:24 PM

Bigbrother

Big Brother

Remember when Sandra Bullock was the highest paid actress in Hollywood? Oh yeah, cause it didn't happen!!!! I standby my initial assertion: Poor man's Julia Roberts. I say good day to you Sir...I say good day!!!

Jun 18 - 03:12 PM

Jason C Wilkerson

Jason Wilkerson

bigbrother: Unless you can cite where a role that was written for Julia Roberts went to Bullock for budgetary reasons I don't think you can really call her the poor man's Julia Roberts. I don't even really think they're styles of acting and movies they appear in are the same. By your assertion every actress in Hollywood is the poor man's Julia Roberts. That's like when people say Josh Lucas is the poor man's Matthew McCauneghey (however you spell his name), Lucas is a better actor, or at least has proven himself to be since Matt won't do anything worth seeing and just breezes through everything. It's a sad sign when the best movie you've done in years was a role that was supposed to go to someone else and you were just picked on the fly because of a tragedy.

Jun 18 - 03:52 PM

Bigbrother

Big Brother

Julia Roberts was supposed to be in Demolition Man. No, not really I can't back that up. As for not being able to call her that. I think I just did, twice. What now cracker? :)

Jun 18 - 04:40 PM

Jason C Wilkerson

Jason Wilkerson

I get that a lot!

Jun 18 - 04:52 PM

Bloody Mathias

Mathias N/A

God, Don Lafontain's voice is almost God-like in that Speed trailer.

LOVE THAT FILM!

Jun 18 - 02:34 PM

Bloody Mathias

Mathias N/A

Although it is kinda sad that Sandra will never make a film better than the one that launched her into stardom. Too bad. She's got a production company, now if only she actually knew what constituted a good script from a bad one or at least hired a few good script readers, she could make a few good films again.

Jun 18 - 02:36 PM

Phillip L.

Phillip Lopez

You all act like she wrote the scripts and could make or break the movie... She didn't act to impress any of you "unimpressed" couch-potato critics, rather she did it because its what she likes to do. Still, just because Rotten Tomatoes and critics don't portray her in a superstar, high-quality, only-acts-in-amazing-movies way, doesn't mean her career was unimpressive at all. She's made her way onto all of our screens at one point or another...

Jun 18 - 03:04 PM

Screen Junkie

Kerry M

Totaly agree. She's working, in a fickle industry! She's the actress I'd most like to be.

Jun 26 - 06:23 AM

Bigbrother

Big Brother

Must you piss on everything I like? I still loved A Time to Kill and if anything I like it more because you didn't like it, how ya like dem apples biznatch.

Jun 18 - 03:10 PM

Bigbrother

Big Brother

Remember when Sandra Bullock was the highest paid actress in Hollywood? Oh yeah, cause it didn't happen!!!! I standby my initial assertion: Poor man's Julia Roberts. I say good day to you Sir...I say good day!!!

Jun 18 - 03:12 PM

Jason C Wilkerson

Jason Wilkerson

bigbrother: Unless you can cite where a role that was written for Julia Roberts went to Bullock for budgetary reasons I don't think you can really call her the poor man's Julia Roberts. I don't even really think they're styles of acting and movies they appear in are the same. By your assertion every actress in Hollywood is the poor man's Julia Roberts. That's like when people say Josh Lucas is the poor man's Matthew McCauneghey (however you spell his name), Lucas is a better actor, or at least has proven himself to be since Matt won't do anything worth seeing and just breezes through everything. It's a sad sign when the best movie you've done in years was a role that was supposed to go to someone else and you were just picked on the fly because of a tragedy.

Jun 18 - 03:52 PM

Bigbrother

Big Brother

Julia Roberts was supposed to be in Demolition Man. No, not really I can't back that up. As for not being able to call her that. I think I just did, twice. What now cracker? :)

Jun 18 - 04:40 PM

Jason C Wilkerson

Jason Wilkerson

I get that a lot!

Jun 18 - 04:52 PM

Defshep

Vance Shepherd

The title of this article made me laugh.

Jun 18 - 03:22 PM

Jason C Wilkerson

Jason Wilkerson

CtrlAltDestroy: You and stereotyping everyone who likes a film. I would like to think I know a little something about racial relations since I happen to be a minority in a minority (milatto-half black and half white) who grew up in a hick town in Florida and now live in Wisconsin. My whole life I've taken crap from black and white people for who I am and what I look like (being black and listening to metal in an area huge on stereotyping doesn't really go over well), so I don't live in a bubble either. You know what, I liked Crash, I loved it actually.

You know why, because it was a well rounded film. Every character was well rounded and I felt for each of them by the end of the film, even the most flawed of characters. The film ran me through the gammut when it came to emotions, and each of their journeys led to compelling drama and entertainment.

bigbrother: Just because she doesn't have an eye for a script like Julia Roberts does doesn't means she's a poor man's Julia Roberts, she's got the chops to be as good if not better than Julia Roberts. (I actually prefer her over Julia, I think Julia's over rated.)

JohnnyJonJon: She didn't just produce The George Lopez show, she sought him out because she thought television could use a hispanic on primetime. She's part of the reason why he's as big as he is because she got him his connections based on seeing him on the local LA circuit.

And my confession of the day: 28 Days is a guilty pleasure of mine. Not a very good movie, but I love it for some reason.

Jun 18 - 03:44 PM

What's Hot On RT

Richard Linklater
Richard Linklater

What are his Five Favorite Films?

The Hunger Games
The Hunger Games

New Mockingjay teaser trailer

Emmys
Emmys

Full 2014 nominations list

Planet of the Apes
Planet of the Apes

Watch interviews with the cast

Find us on:                     
Help | About | Jobs | Critics Submission | Press | API | Licensing | Mobile