The 17 Best Sandra Bullock Movies, Ranked

The Oscar-winning actress is known for rom-coms, but she's done charming work across genres.

Image by Chineme Elobuike for Thrillist

Despite her reputation as a rom-com charmer, Sandra Bullock's career spans a number of genres. She's done science fiction (Demolition Man, Gravity), action (Speed, the regrettable Speed 2: Cruise Control), a ton of thrillers (The Vanishing, The Net, Murder by Numbers, Premonition, Bird Box), serious adult dramas (28 Days, Crash, Infamous, The Blind Side), and a requisite '90s legal thriller (A Time to Kill). And yet we must admit: Most of Bullock's best movies are romantic comedies, or at least broader comedies like The Heat, Miss Congeniality, and Practical Magic. She's currently appearing in the action-adventure romp The Lost City, which accentuates her charisma as a cocksure leading lady. Keep it coming! In honor of Bullock's 35-year career, we're ranking her best roles thus far.

Quinton Aaron and sandra bullock in the blind side
Warner Bros. Pictures

17. The Blind Side (2009)

It's a shame Bullock won her first Oscar for this maudlin white-savior drama based on the true story of NFL offensive lineman Michael Oher, who was adopted as a teenager by a nice Tennessee couple (Bullock and Tim McGraw) willing to ignore their town's prejudice. Bullock is perfectly fine in the role, portraying a Southern-belle firecracker with a take-no-prisoners humorlessness. But she can't overcome its hammy approach to a movie in which the future football star (Quinton Aaron) is relegated to a supporting player; her chewy accent only accentuates the "Hollywood tries to understand race" hurdle that The Bling Side does not at all surmount. Still, Bullock was clearly aware of her star power by the time this project came around, effectively commanding a film that didn't need to be made. —Matthew Jacobs

sandra bullock in divine secrets of the ya-ya sisterhood
Warner Bros. Pictures

16. Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood (2002)

Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood crisscrosses between time periods, locations, and tones, never quite figuring out how to capture the effervescence of Rebecca Wells’ novel, which focuses on a playwright (Bullock) attempting to understand her complicated mother (Ellen Burstyn) via the tight-knit Louisiana friends (Maggie Smith, Fionnula Flanagan, Shirley Knight) she has maintained since childhood. Even if Ya-Ya is a poor man’s Steel Magnolias, it boasts a down-to-earth watchability, thanks largely to the gentle charms of its cast. Bullock is the movie’s gravitational pull, confirming her mainstream draw by way of what was once a hotly anticipated adaptation. —MJ

keanu reeves and sandra bullock in the lake house
Warner Bros. Pictures

15. The Lake House (2006)

The full-body adrenaline rush of The Lake House’s final 10 minutes is exactly the reaction that other movies of this kind only dream of achieving, and it’s a credit to both Bullock and her co-star (Keanu Reeves) that it’s so effective. When chronically single doctor Kate Forster (Bullock) leaves the glass-walled lake house she’d been living in, she also leaves a note for the future tenant, just in case they need to forward her any mail. When the “new” tenant, Alex Wyler (Reeves), starts a correspondence with her, they soon realize that they’re writing to each other from two different points in time, two years apart. Don’t think too hard about the mechanics of it all, just let the breathtaking romantic energies of two superstars wash over you. —Emma Stefansky

sandra bullock in our brand is crisis
Warner Bros. Pictures

14. Our Brand Is Crisis (2015)

Based on a documentary with the same title about James Carville’s political consultant group getting involved in the 2002 Bolivian presidential election, Our Brand is Crisis is one of those movies that should work better than it does. Director David Gordon Green has a sharp ear for comedy and a careful eye for poetic images, but the satire never really connects and the script too often chooses glibness over genuine insight. At the same time, Bullock, playing gifted but down-on-her-luck consultant “Calamity” Jane Bodine, delivers exactly the type of locked-in, weary-eyed performance that you’d find in a movie like Michael Clayton or The Verdict. She’s excellent, building a lived-in character who feels more fully realized than the often chaotic and toothless movie she’s trapped in. Ever the professional, Bullock finds grace in the crisis. —Dan Jackson

sandra bullock in the net
Sony Pictures Releasing

13. The Net (1995)

Click-clacking away at her mechanical keyboard, Bullock is maybe at her hottest as reclusive computer-whiz systems analyst Angela Bassett in a peak mid-’90s lazy-gal wardrobe. She’s just a lady who wants to order a pizza pie from to her apartment, chat about her ideal man on message boards, and connect her rig to a modem while on a much-needed beach vacation. But when she’s handed a floppy disc that unwittingly entangles her in the center of a twisty government conspiracy and cyberterrorist plot, losing access to every traceable detail of her identity, Bullock’s paranoia and exasperation still miraculously manage to cut through the distractingly dated tech and hacker one-liners in The Net’s early internet-surveillance parable. —Leanne Butkovic

sylvester stallone and sandra bullock in demolition man
Warner Bros. Pictures

12. Demolition Man (1993)

With a prophetic script co-written by Heathers screenwriter Daniel Waters and sleek direction from artist turned filmmaker Marco Brambilla, Demolition Man remains one of the more underrated ‘90s action movies. The poster teases a futuristic sci-fi showdown between Sylvester Stallone and Wesley Snipes, which the film more or less delivers on, but the pleasures are in the margins, particularly in the utopian absurdity of the 2032 “San Angeles” setting and the performance from Bullock as 20th-century obsessive Lieutenant Lenina Huxley. (Her character being named after the author of Brave New World should give you a sense of the movie's satirical bent.) The scene where she introduces Stallone’s unfrozen-from-time meatball cop to the pleasures of “virtual sex” remains in a class of its own. “Ew, disgusting,” she says after Stallone suggests doing it the old-fashioned way. “You mean fluid transfer?” The gag is certainly broad, but Bullock sells it with a winning earnestness. —DJ

sandra bullock and rihanna in ocean's 8
Warner Bros. Pictures

11. Ocean's 8 (2018)

Despite its starry ensemble, Ocean's 8 pretty much revolves around Bullock. As con artist Debbie Ocean, revealed to be the younger sister of George Clooney's Ocean's 11 mastermind Danny Ocean, she is the tissue connecting this movie to the larger franchise. She also puts its elaborate Met Gala heist into motion with a snappy, effortless "you'll do what I say" come-hither. This role lacks the everywoman imperfections that round out most Bullock characters, but it's fun to see her glide through the glossy proceedings with such chic poise. MJ

sandra bullock in 28 days
Sony Pictures Releasing

10. 28 Days (2000)

28 Days isn’t funny enough to be a proper comedy, and it isn’t moving enough to be an effective drama. And yet there’s still something compelling about this Betty Thomas-directed portrait of an alcoholic newspaper columnist who crashes her car and agrees to attend a 28-day rehab program in order to avoid jail time. Bullock always shines when playing overly self-possessed protagonists, and here her character is just unlikable enough—insofar as it’s ever possible for Sandra Bullock to seem unlikable—to transcend the movie’s clichés. Opposite a stacked supporting cast that includes Viggo Mortensen, Elizabeth Perkins, Steve Buscemi, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, and Diane Ladd, Bullock’s blend of flippancy and vulnerability guides the film to the finish line. —MJ

sandra bullock and hugh grant in two weeks notice
Warner Bros. Pictures

9. Two Weeks Notice (2002)

Is Two Weeks Notice one of the lesser rom-coms for both Sandra Bullock and Hugh Grant? Yes. Did it give us the horrible Counting Crows cover of “Big Yellow Taxi”? Also yes. Is it still pretty wonderful? Yeah! Bullock this time is a messy environmental lawyer, Lucy Kelson, fighting against a development that would raze a Coney Island community center. Deciding he would rather have her on his side than against him, the smug businessman behind these plans (Grant) enlists Lucy as his general counsel. They have opposing views! Then they fall in love! Just ignore the fact that Grant’s character is sort of modeled after Donald Trump and you’ll have a great time. —Esther Zuckerman

sandra bullock and channing tatum in the lost city
Paramount Pictures

8. The Lost City (2022)

In many ways, The Lost City, a classic action-adventure movie at heart, feels like a return to a genre that was nearly overtaken by modern franchise blockbusters with built-in rabid fan bases. Bullock plays Loretta Sage, a romance-adventure author who uses her late husband’s archaeological research as inspiration for her books. Her work catches the eye of a megalomaniac businessman (Daniel Radcliffe) who spirits her off to the island location of a mythical lost treasure, and her only hope of escape is her himbo cover model Alan Caprison (Channing Tatum in full woman-respecter mode), who is intent on rescuing her. The end result is a genuinely funny adventure-comedy with a lot to say about the importance of romance books and how to pick leeches off of someone’s butt. —ES

sandra bullock in the proposal
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

7. The Proposal (2009)

After a brief detour away from rom-coms, Bullock returned to her familiar comedic-leading-lady position in The Proposal. She stars as Margaret Tate, a career-driven book publisher who finds herself in a kerfuffle when she risks being deported to Canada. She does the only logical thing: lie to immigration that she's engaged to her assistant (Ryan Reynolds) who can't stand her. The movie may center on a typical formula, but many cite this as a favorite, rewatchable because of its two leads. Bullock is particularly funny, heightening the fish-out-of-water plot, as her type-A character is forced to travel to her hubby-to-be's hometown of Sikta, Alaska, and she does great physical comedy (including enduring a lap dance and attempting to offer a puppy to a hawk). Bullock chanting "Get Low" by Lil Jon & The East Side Boyz, opposite Betty White, will go down as some of her best work, however appropriative it may be. —Sadie Bell

sandra bullock in while you were sleeping
Buena Vista Pictures Distribution, Inc.

6. While You Were Sleeping (1995)

It’s a test of a star’s mettle as to whether they can pull off a character who makes decisions that, on paper, can be pretty terrible. That’s the challenge Sandy has to overcome in While You Were Sleeping, Jon Turtletaub’s rom-com about a woman who pretends to be the wife of a man she crushed on from afar while he’s in a coma. And yet despite that confusing ickiness, Bullock is just so darn appealing in the movie that it all works. She plays Lucy, a token taker working at a Chicago train station, living solo and pitied by her coworkers. Since she’s only human, she’s desperately in love with Peter Gallagher’s Peter Callaghan, who she sees boarding every day, until he’s pushed onto the tracks and she saves him from death. Mistaken for his fiancée, she starts to bond with his confused family while he unconsciously recuperates. Along the way, she falls for Peter’s charmingly rough brother, played by Bill Pullman, the guy who frequently doesn’t get the girl in these movies. The high concept all works mainly because of the sweetness Bullock projects in a role that might confound lesser actresses. —EZ

sandra bullock in practical magic
Warner Bros. Pictures

5. Practical Magic (1998)

If I were ranking this list based on personal choices, Practical Magic would be No. 1. Based on the novel by Alice Hoffman, Sally and Gillian Owens (Bullock and a never hotter Nicole Kidman) are just another two witches in a long line before them, all saddled with a curse that will kill whatever man dares to fall in love with them. Bullock's Sally is desperate to be normal, giving the actress plenty of room to show her romantic-comedy chops as she falls for a dreamy detective (Aidan Quinn) and demonstrates steadfast loyalty to her sister (she helps kill that greasy guy!). Honestly, her glorious hair should be another character in the film. It might be cheesy at times, but it's a perfect example of what makes Sandra Bullock so magical (pun intended). —KC

keanu reeves and sandra bullock in speed
20th Century Fox

4. Speed (1994)

Two hot people, a deadly plot, and a vehicle speeding out of control—what more do you really need to make a great movie? LAPD SWAT officer Jack Traven (Keanu Reeves) is hot on the trail of a terrorist rigging buses to explode if they decelerate under 50mph. When he gets stuck inside the terrorist’s next target, a bus heading down the Los Angeles freeway, he and terrified passenger Annie Porter (Sandra Bullock) have to keep it going at top speed while Jack attempts to negotiate with the bomber and keep the passengers from trying to escape. Bus stunts! Romance under duress! A famously terrible sequel! Speed is a white-knuckle, stone-cold classic. —ES

melissa mccarthy and sandra bullock in the heat
20th Century Fox

3. The Heat (2013)

Why The Heat hasn’t spawned a thousand more Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy comedies directed by Paul Feig beats me. With this Boston-set buddy romp, it finally feels like Bullock has met her comedic match in the boisterous foul-mouthed brilliance of McCarthy. McCarthy lets her wild energy bounce off Bullock’s uptight exterior, until they both let loose in a thrilling hail of chaos. Bullock plays Sarah Ashburn, an FBI agent investigating a drug case also being followed by McCarthy’s cop, Shannon Mullins. Mullins is everything Ashburn is not: She’s brash and doesn’t care about propriety or people-pleasing. Ashburn is bound by Spanx and her personality. Of course, they make a perfect team. Bullock builds on the Serious Woman on a Mission persona she established in Miss Congeniality, finding herself utterly at home once again as a fish out of water—this time among dudes from Southie instead of beauty queens. Just watch her try to dissect the Bostonian pronunciation of “narc.”EZ

sandra bullock in miss congeniality
Warner Bros. Pictures

2. Miss Congeniality (2000)

For us of a certain age, who had to ask a parent nicely to please go see the PG-13 Miss Congeniality, it was the best movie we’d ever seen, starring the funniest, most relatable, and most beautiful woman on earth as a hard-ass FBI agent turned undercover beauty-pageant queen. While not every aspect of the movie holds up 20-plus years later, Bullock’s iconic performance as Gracie Hart absolutely does. She sinks right into her frizzy-haired tomboy careerist in a male-dominated workplace with a no-bullshit attitude and a Jersey accent and softens as she learns a lesson about the strength of women’s solidarity, all while delivering straight-faced zingers and launching herself off a stage in a floofy dirndl. Though Miss Congeniality is hardly the kind of movie that awards shows would fawn after (though it did win a couple Teen Choice Awards), Bullock more than deserves all of the praise still heaped upon her for making the difficult job of acting look effortless. —LB

sandra bullock in gravity
Warner Bros. Pictures

1. Gravity (2013)

A sustained exercise in technical wizardry and muscular craftsmanship, Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity is a movie that calls attention to the difficulty of its own construction. All those wild camera movements! The complicated long takes! The bits of debris flying at you on the IMAX screen! At the Oscars, the science-fiction thrill ride took home trophies for Best Director, Best Original Score, Best Cinematography, and Best Visual Effects. But the movie simply wouldn’t work so effectively without Bullock's performance anchoring the dizzying action and stomach-churning suspense. In the early scenes with co-star George Clooney, she establishes a chummy workplace rapport that gets disrupted by a mid-air catastrophe that leaves her stranded and at her wits' end, floating through space. Cuarón uses her every gesture to heighten the emotional intensity, allowing each sliver of backstory to build toward the triumphant beach-walk climax. Bullock never oversells the awe, the terror, or her own capacity for courage. It remains her definitive role: a fist-pump of a performance working in tandem with the spectacle swirling around her. —DJ

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