“Gravity” – the space thriller directed by Alfonso Cuaron (Children Of Men) is a certified cinema hit. Co-starring George Clooney (Men Who Stare At Goats), the movie is breaking box office records, universally pleasing demanding critics and also reaffirming the dependable box office draw of Sandra Bullock. This year, she also hit it big with the buddy, cop comedy “The Heat” – co-starring Melissa McCarthy, Oscar nominee for “Bridesmaids”, opposite Kristen Wiig, of Saturday Night Live fame. All of this cinema goodness and success isn’t surprising, since Bullock has been an A-List actress for years and won an Oscar for her touching performance in, “The Blind Side”. But these days it seems she’s finally broken out of a quirky thing that’s always shadowed her, comparisons to that other Hollywood actress, – Julia Roberts.
After the small flick, “Mystic Pizza”, Julia Roberts broke into the mainstream with her big, bouncy hit, “Pretty Woman”, opposite Richard Gere (Chicago). She followed it up with big flicks like “Flatliners”, “Hook” and “Sleeping With The Enemy”. She was the go to girl for the lead movie actress of the 1990’s and quickly became the lovable girl next door type for those kinds of roles. She was the movie it girl – the film flavor of the moment. She dazzled us as the shining, silver screen superstar.
Enter Sandra Bullock.
Bullock came to big fame with “Speed”, opposite Keanu Reeves, Neo from “The Matrix”. She then excelled in “The Net”, a before its time cautionary thriller on the perils of being too hooked into our increasingly connected cyber based digital world. Now that such innocent societal notions are mostly moot, since it’s nearly impossible to escape cyber connectivity, the movie plays like a Hollywood premonition, albeit one which wasn’t exactly heeded. Bullock followed the hit up with flicks like, “A Time To Kill”, “Hope Floats”, “Practical Magic” and “Miss Congeniality”.
The Virginia native wasn’t content to just be in front of the camera, and she started to produce. One of her most notable successes was in television, as executive producer of the TV sitcom, “The George Lopez Show”. She even won the Raul Julia Award for Excellence, in recognition of her helping expand opportunities for Latinos in the entertainment industry.
Both actresses continued their career trajectory with great confidence and profit for themselves and their producers/studios, yet a constant pairing of the two seemed to accompany any media coverage of the respective women. Speculation of how much they either liked or hated each other ran rampant. It was as if they were joined at the hip, a sideshow exhibit for the Perez Hiltons and TMZ’s of the media world.
These days, Julia Roberts – while still starring in big movies – isn’t as front and center as Sandra Bullock. Of course, all she needs is one big film to put her back in the spotlight again. For Bullock, her choice of roles – varied and challenging – and her delving into production chores, seems to finally have distanced her from Roberts. Certainly male actors are compared to one another from time to time, but could a kind of sexism be to blame for the chronic Roberts and Bullock scrutiny? James Franco isn’t compared to Brad Pitt, nor Chris Hemsworth to Keanu Reeves ad nauseam. Maybe it’s simply a great way for media watchers to stir up a story angle, and maybe finally, hopefully, it’s been put to rest.