Can The Blind Side Really Win Sandra Bullock an Oscar?

Admittedly, we’ve not actually seen The Blind Side — John Lee Hancock’s critically tolerated adoption drama in which a saintly Sandra Bullock sets a homeless black teenager on the path to a football scholarship using only sass, Christian values, and her family’s inherited wealth — but now that it’s a surprise $100 million hit, it seems to us the Academy might have to at least consider holding its nose and nominating this thing for an award or two. In its second weekend, Side heart-warmed moviegoers out of an impressive $40.1 million — an 18 percent improvement on its opening and, astonishingly, nearly enough to beat New Moon. So with Bullock’s best-reviewed movie in forever on its way to becoming her biggest-ever grosser, could this be the year she touches an Oscar statue?

It’s not like the Academy has shown an allergy to Bullock-starring melodrama before. Even her film’s harsher critics concede she’s completely adequate in it, and more than a few contend that she’s actually kinda great. (Also, at least one major critic likes Blind Side more than Precious.) According to the L.A. TimesPete Hammond (who’s been on about this for weeks), Warner Bros. hasn’t yet done much awards campaigning for Bullock, but with her chances way up after this weekend, you can expect that to change.

Of the five available slots in 2009’s lead-actress category, four are generally thought to be spoken for (we’d be surprised to see Carey Mulligan, Meryl Streep, Helen Mirren, or Gabourey Sidibe snubbed). But at least one nod is definitely up for grabs, and with Blind Side on track to out-earn all of this fall’s awards bait combined, why shouldn’t it go to Bullock instead of, say, Saoirse Ronan (15-year-old star of the apparently not-so-good The Lovely Bones) or Abbie Cornish or Marion Cotillard (who are both plenty deserving, but will presumably have other chances)?

Okay, sure, Bullock’s responsible for The Proposal and All About Steve and so many other atrocities. But at least there’s nothing on the January–February release schedule to make Oscar voters immediately regret nominating her for Side, Norbit-style. And would it really be the worst thing if she were rewarded for breaking character and making a movie that not everyone agrees is awful for a change? If putting her within speech-making distance of a podium would finally make her choose her work a little more carefully, then we’re not necessarily opposed.

Can The Blind Side Really Win Sandra Bullock an Oscar?