The Blind Side, Sandra Bullock, Quinton Aaron, Jae Head

Warner Bros.

Oscar Watch

No, you didn't miss the months and months of carefully planned build-up. In the two weeks since The Blind Side's surprisingly big box-office debut, Sandra Bullock really has come out of nowhere to score Academy Awards buzz.  

"There's no question about it," Dan Fellman, an exec for Warners Bros., the studio behind The Blind Side, told us. "Her performance is outstanding, and all the reviewers have pointed that out, but it's our customers who are really touting that, and supporting her."

Oscar handicappers are being won over, too.

At And the Winner Is…, blogger Scott Feinberg has Bullock down as one of five actresses with outside shots at Best Actress. No, she isn't one of his projected nominees, nor one of his "major threats," but the A-lister's on the list. After all these years.

"Bullock has consistently gravitated towards commercial rather than awards fare, so nobody really even had her on their awards radar for The Blind Side until the film was released," Feinberg said in an email. "…[Now] her prospects are looking better than ever—certainly for a Golden Globe nomination, and possibly even for a first-career Oscar nomination."

Commercially, the 45-year-old Bullock's never been bigger than she has this year. Her summer comedy The Proposal grossed a career-best $164 million; The Blind Side, the true-life football weepy that allowed the perky actress to turn steel magnolia, is at about $109 million and counting, after refusing to shirk from a neck-and-neck race with New Moon.

Come Oscar time, the idea of paying dues—and of having helped Hollywood pay its bills, year after year—resonates. As, this time around, may Bullock's name, arguably the biggest among the women vying for what Feinberg sees as the final in-play Best Actress slot.

"When voters sit down to decide which screening to attend, screener to watch, or person to support on their ballot," Feinberg said, "that may make all the difference." 

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