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Upon first hearing that an over-50 actress is being touted for her looks or on a magazine cover, one would expect it to be Modern Maturity, More or other publications catering to those eligible to join the AARP (formerly the American Association of Retired Persons). It is certainly surprising and refreshing that Sandra Bullock, who is 50 years old, is on the cover of People and recipient of the magazine’s 2015 Most Beautiful Woman honor.
No denying the actress is attractive. She is also much younger than previous honorees. Last year, the annual Most Beautiful Woman title went to Lupita Nyong’o, who is 32. The winners the three prior years were a little older, but still much younger than Bullock: Gwyneth Paltrow (2013), Beyoncé (2012) and Jennifer Lopez (2011).
The “honor” is not exactly scientifically or popularly given. The magazine’s “Most Beautiful Woman” and “Sexiest Man Alive” honors, like stars on Hollywood Boulevard, require the recipient to cooperate and take part by showing up (for the unveiling of the star or the photo shoot for the magazine covers). Needless to say, some turn down the invites.
However it was awarded, Bullock’s inclusion here is refreshing for two reasons: The Oscar-winning actress has never been accused of being a high maintenance beauty. Two, she is the oldest woman honored and of an age Hollywood typically does not honor.
Bullock has charmingly not taken herself too seriously when it comes to her appearance and the Hollywood veteran’s self-deprecating humor is well-known. Her ease and natural beauty came through in the two Miss Congeniality films, when she played a cop posing as a beauty contestant and seemed at home in both roles.
“Real beauty is quiet. Especially in this town,” Bullock observed in People. She tries to avoid the temptation to be obsessed with looks and instead focused on being a good mom to son, Louis, 5. She said her role as mother is the one that makes her feel most beautiful.
Bullock claims her day-to-day life revolves around carpools and play dates. She does work out four to five times a week and tries to eat healthy.
People’s Editorial Director, Jess Cagle, commented on Good Morning America, on the magazine’s Bullock selection. “The photos are staggering when you look at them and you realize that this woman just gets better and better over time,” she said.
Bullock being named may, hopefully, shine more attention on the dearth of quality movie roles for real women over 40. The Washington Post noted that Bullock “is well into territory where many an actress begins a slow … fade-away,” and the roles offered are for sexless mothers or cranky old ladies. This basically echoes Goldie Hawn’s aging actress character in First Wives’ Club, who bemoaned, “There are only three ages for women in Hollywood; ‘Babe,’ ‘District Attorney,’ and ‘Driving Ms. Daisy.’”
Bullock’s recent roles (The Heat, Gravity) have sort of been in the middle category as a professional or as a middle age mom (Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, her Best Actress winning role in 2010’s The Blind Side). The only new part she has coming out this year is a voiceover in the Minions cartoon.
Will being named “Most Beautiful” be more rewarding for Bullock and revamp her career or serve as a coda? It would be refreshing if Sandra Bullock’s Most Beautiful Woman honor to put her back in producer’s heads so she keeps finding great roles that let her age gracefully, like Meryl Streep, Helen Mirren and Diane Keaton.
By Dyanne Weiss