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Sandra Bullock's Best Movie Got A Second Life On Netflix

Sandra Bullock has had a long and illustrious career in Hollywood, from her days as a romantic comedy star in films like "Two Weeks Notice" and "While You Were Sleeping" to turns in more serious fare like "Gravity." The movie that won her the first and only Academy Award of her career so far, though, is the one currently making waves on Netflix.

Adapted from Michael Lewis' book of the same name, "The Blind Side" was released in 2009 and told the true story of the Tuohy family — led by matriarch Leigh Anne Tuohy (Bullock) and their experience taking in and adopting a young Black man with a prodigious talent for football. With the help of the Tuohys, Michael "Big Mike" Oher, played by Quinton Aaron, is able to leave the foster care system entirely and find a new home with the family, and ultimately play football at the prestigious Wingate Christian School. 

The film has, over the years, attracted some controversy — and more to come on that in a moment — but the bottom line is that at the 2010 Oscar ceremony, Bullock took home a statue for best actress, and the rest is history. So what did critics think of "The Blind Side" when it first came out?

Critics were definitely torn over The Blind Side in 2009

Back in 2009, when "The Blind Side" was first released, critics were fairly mixed on the movie ... but ultimately agreed that Sandra Bullock delivered an undeniably incredible performance as Leigh Anne Tuohy. In fact, with a rating of 66% on Rotten Tomatoes, the critical consensus even addresses this, reading, "It might strike some viewers as a little too pat, but The Blind Side has the benefit of strong source material and a strong performance from Sandra Bullock." 

Again, reviews were decidedly mixed, with a few critics going right for the jugular, but some did specifically mention Bullock and her portrayal of Tuohy. "Upon seeing [Bullock's] Oscar-worthy performance is 'finally!' followed quickly by, 'Why the heck did it take so long?'" Michael Granberry at the Dallas Morning News exclaimed. Kate Muir at The Times UK, per Rotten Tomatoes, summed it up thusly: "Bullock turns in a terrific, ball-breaking performance. Unfortunately, the rest of the film is painfully [patronizing]." Apparently, some Netflix subscribers agree with Adam Graham of the Detroit News (via Rotten Tomatoes), whose assessment reads, "It's a cute, touchy-feely crowd pleaser that wants nothing more than to wrap audiences in a warm holiday embrace. In a sense, it achieves that goal, but it is overly sentimental in a Lifetime movie kind-of-way."

The Blind Side has been causing controversy for years

We can't really discuss "The Blind Side" without touching on an obvious problem: the movie perpetuates a Hollywood stereotype known as a "white savior" — particularly with Sandra Bullock's character — and Michael Oher himself has raised objections about the film itself as well as criticized the real Tuohy family for controlling his life when he was a teenager. In August of 2023, ESPN reported that Oher filed a petition in a Tennessee court alleging that the entire story of "The Blind Side" was actually a lie, and that the Tuohys used Oher for financial gain. Oher also alleges that the Tuohys had him sign "adoption papers" that placed him under a conservatorship, and that this allowed them to keep the proceeds from the major blockbuster movie based on Oher's own life. "Beyond the details of the deal, the politics, and the money behind the book and movie, it was the principle of the choices some people made that cut me the deepest," Oher wrote in his book "When Your Back's Against the Wall," according to the outlet.

Beyond that, Oher has long objected to the way he was portrayed in "The Blind Side." As SportsKeeda reported in 2023, Oher said, "The biggest for me was being portrayed as not being able to read or write. When you go into a locker room and your teammates don't think you can learn a playbook, that weighs heavy." Ultimately, Oher did find success as a football player, and played for the Ravens when they won the Super Bowl in 2013, among other teams.

"The Blind Side" is on Netflix now — and it's important to be aware of the context involved when you check it out.