The Blind Side (film)

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The Blind Side
A relatively small blonde women stands beside a large football player, facing away from the viewer.
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJohn Lee Hancock
Produced by
Screenplay byJohn Lee Hancock
Based onThe Blind Side: Evolution of a Game
by Michael Lewis
Music byCarter Burwell
CinematographyAlar Kivilo
Edited byMark Livolsi
Distributed byWarner Bros. Pictures
Release date
‹See TfM›
  • November 20, 2009 (2009-11-20)
Running time
126 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$29 million[1]
Box office$309.2 million[1]

The Blind Side is a 2009 American biographical sports drama film written and directed by John Lee Hancock, based on the 2006 book The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game by Michael Lewis.[2][3] The storyline features Michael Oher, an offensive lineman who was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens of the National Football League (NFL). The film follows Oher from his impoverished upbringing, through his years at Wingate Christian School (a fictional representation of Briarcrest Christian School in Memphis, Tennessee),[4] his adoption by Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy, to his position as one of the most highly coveted prospects in college football, then finally becoming a first-round pick of the Ravens.

Quinton Aaron stars as Michael Oher, alongside Sandra Bullock as Leigh Anne Tuohy, Tim McGraw as Sean Tuohy, and Kathy Bates as Miss Sue, Oher's tutor.[2] The film also features appearances by several current and former NCAA coaches, including Houston Nutt, Ed Orgeron, Nick Saban, Lou Holtz, Tommy Tuberville, and Phillip Fulmer.[5]

The Blind Side grossed over $300 million. Bullock went on to win the Academy Award for Best Actress, as well as the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama and Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role. The film also received an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture, in the first year that the rules required a mandatory number of ten (previously five) Best Picture nominees, with the nomination considered a surprise by the producers.


The film opens with seventeen-year-old Michael ("Big Mike") Oher talking to an NCAA investigator. Then a flashback ensues.

Michael has been in foster care with different families in Oslo, Tennessee, due to his mother's drug addiction. Every time he is placed in a new home, he runs away. His friend's father, on whose couch Mike had been sleeping, asks Burt Cotton, the coach of Wingate Christian School, to help enroll his son and Mike. Impressed by Mike's size and athleticism, Cotton gets him admitted despite his poor academic record. Later, Michael is befriended by a younger student named Sean Jr. ("SJ"). SJ's mother, Leigh Anne Tuohy, is a strong-minded interior designer and the wife of wealthy businessman Sean Tuohy.

The school staff tell Michael that his father has died, apparently due to an accident. Later, Leigh Anne and Sean watch their daughter Collins playing volleyball. After the game, Sean notices Michael picking up leftover food on the bleachers.

One night, Leigh Anne notices Michael walking alone on the road, shivering in the cold without adequate clothing. When she learns that he plans to spend the night huddled outside the closed school gym, Leigh Anne offers to let him sleep on the couch in the Tuohy home.

The next morning, Leigh Anne notices that Michael has left. Seeing him walking away, she asks him to spend the Thanksgiving holiday with her family. Slowly, Michael becomes a member of the family. Later, Leigh Anne drives Michael to his mother's house. He sees an eviction notice posted on the door, and his mother is gone.

Leigh Anne's friends wonder what she is doing; they suggest that Collins might not be safe around Michael, but Leigh Anne rebukes them. She later asks Collins how she feels about it. Collins replies that they cannot just throw Michael out. When Leigh Anne seeks to become Michael's legal guardian, she learns he was taken from his drug-addict mother when he was seven and that no one knows her whereabouts. She is also told that, although he scored poorly in a career aptitude test, he was ranked in the 98th percentile in "protective instincts". When Michael appears to be hesitant to use his strength and size while learning to play football, Leigh Anne tells him, as an offensive lineman, he must protect his quarterback. From that moment, Michael improves drastically, well enough to play at the college level. However, to do that, he must meet the minimum grade point average to get in so the Tuohys hire a private tutor for him, the outspoken and kind Miss Sue.

Leigh Anne has a face-to-face conversation with Michael's mother about adopting him. Although she seems unresponsive in the beginning, the mother finally wishes Michael the best.

Michael is heavily recruited by many prestigious schools. SJ talks to coaches and negotiates on Michael's behalf – and his own. When Michael gets his grades high enough, he decides to attend the University of Mississippi (known colloquially as "Ole Miss"), where Sean had played basketball and Leigh Anne had been a cheerleader. That causes NCAA investigator Granger to look into the matter to determine if the Tuohys took him in and unduly influenced him just so he would play for their alma mater.

Michael runs away before the interview is over and confronts Leigh Anne about her motives for taking him in. He then proceeds to find his biological mother in Hurt Village. A gang leader welcomes him back, offers him a beer, and makes sexually offensive insinuations about Leigh Anne and Collins. When the gang leader threatens to go after them, Michael battles with him and other thugs. After thinking things over and questioning Leigh Anne, Michael tells Granger he chose Ole Miss because "it's where my family goes to school". Michael is accepted into college and says his farewells to the Tuohy family.

The film ends with information about and photos of the real Tuohy family and Michael Oher, who went on to play in the National Football League. He was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft.


A number of NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision coaches and recruiters make brief appearances as themselves: Phillip Fulmer, Lou Holtz, Tom Lemming, Houston Nutt, Ed Orgeron, Franklin "Pepper" Rodgers, Nick Saban, and Tommy Tuberville.

While Oher's coach from high school, Hugh Freeze, has an uncredited cameo as a coach watching some game film, the role of the high school coach is named Coach Cotton in the film.[6]


The Blind Side was produced by Alcon Entertainment and released by Warner Bros. The film's production budget was $29 million.[1] Filming for the school scenes took place at Atlanta International School and The Westminster Schools in Atlanta, Georgia, and it features many of their students as extras. The film premiered on November 17 in New York City and New Orleans, and opened in theaters in the rest of the United States and in Canada on November 20.[7]

Academy Award winner Julia Roberts was originally offered Bullock's role, but turned it down.[8] Bullock initially turned down the starring role three times due to discomfort with portraying a devout Christian. By her own account, Bullock felt she couldn't objectively represent such a person's beliefs on screen.[9] But after a visit with the real Leigh Anne Tuohy, Bullock not only won the role, but also took a pay cut and agreed to receive a percentage of the profits instead.[10]


Box office[edit]

The Blind Side opened in 3,110 theaters on its opening weekend, the weekend of November 20, 2009. It grossed a strong $34.5 million in its opening weekend, the second highest gross of that weekend, behind The Twilight Saga: New Moon. It was the highest-grossing opening weekend of Sandra Bullock's career. The per-theater average for The Blind Side's opening weekend was $11,096.[11] In its opening weekend, the movie already earned more than its $29 million production budget. It proved to have remarkable staying power, taking in an additional $9.5 million, bringing its gross to $60.1 million by the weekend of November 27, 2009.[12] The movie enjoyed a rare greater success for the second weekend than it did in its opening weekend, taking in an estimated $40 million, an increase of 18 percent, from November 27 to November 29, 2009, coming in second to New Moon once again, bringing its gross to $100.3 million.[1]

In its third weekend, the movie continued its trend of rare feats by moving up to the number one position with $20.4 million in sales after spending the previous two weekends in second place for a total gross of $128.8 million, due to strong word-of-mouth.[13] In its fourth weekend, it moved down to second place, dropping a slim 23% with an estimated $15.5 million for a total of $150.2 million in the United States and Canada as of December 13, 2009.[14] The film hit $200 million domestically on January 1, 2010, marking the first time a movie marketed with a sole actress' name above the title (Bullock's) has crossed the $200 million mark.[15] The Blind Side has also become the highest grossing football movie and sports drama of all time domestically[16][17] unadjusted for ticket inflation.[18] The Blind Side ended its domestic theatrical run on June 4, 2010 (nearly 7 months after it opened), earning a total of nearly $256 million.[19] In the United Kingdom and Ireland, The Blind Side was released on March 26, 2010.[20] It was the third biggest release of that weekend behind Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang and Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland.[21]

Critical response[edit]

The film received mixed reviews, with critics praising Sandra Bullock's performance. Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a rating of 66%, based on 204 reviews, with an average rating of 6.15/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "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."[22] Metacritic, which assigned a score of 53 out of 100, based on reviews from 29 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[23] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film a rare "A+" grade.[24]

A. O. Scott of The New York Times commented on the performances: "Ms. Bullock is convincing enough as an energetic, multitasking woman of the New South, who knows her own mind and usually gets her own way. And Tim McGraw, as Leigh Anne’s affable husband, Sean, inhabits his character comfortably and knows how to get out of Ms. Bullock’s way when necessary." He found the movie to be "made up almost entirely of turning points and yet curiously devoid of drama or suspense" and called it a "live-action, reality-based version of a Disney cartoon: it’s the heartwarming tale of a foundling taken in by strangers, who accept him even though he’s different and treat him as one of their own."[25]

According to Michael Rechtshaffen of The Hollywood Reporter, Bullock's character is an "irrepressible hoot in writer-director John Lee Hancock's otherwise thoroughly conventional take on Michael Lewis' fact-based book." In spite of her "feisty" and "energetic" performance, he felt that there was a lack of development concerning Michael's character: "Not until the end of the film do we ever get a chance to really see what's going on in Oher's head -- how he feels about being the chosen one plucked from the poverty-stricken projects of Memphis and thrown into this protected, nonliberal-leaning environment of privilege."[26] Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian described Bullock's appearance as "strangely humourless" and felt that "[t]here is something weirdly absent about this performance." Overall, he opined that the film provided "a Photoshopped [sic] image of reality that is bland, parochial, and stereotypically acted," and concluded: "There is a rich, complex story to be told about Michael Oher, and his mentor, Leigh Anne Tuohy. But this waxwork parade isn't it."[27]

Race controversy[edit]

Although based on a true story, The Blind Side has been criticized as presenting a white savior narrative in which Oher, an African-American male, is unable to overcome poverty and personal failure without the guidance of adoptive, white mother Tuohy. For example, Jeffrey Montez de Oca of the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs writes that in The Blind Side's portrayal of adoption, "charity operates as a signifying act of whiteness that obscures the social relations of domination that not only make charity possible but also creates an urban underclass in need of charity."[28] Melissa Anderson of the Dallas Observer argues that the "mute, docile" portrayal of Oher effectively endorses the Uncle Tom stereotype of African-American submission to white authority.[29]

In her book, White Fragility, Robin DiAngelo criticized The Blind Side's perpetuation of "negative racial stereotypes", calling it "fundamentally and insidiously anti-black". She refers to a scene in which Oher returns to his stereotypically violent former neighborhood, only leaving when Tuohy rescues him from it. She also argues the film portrays Oher as simpleton who uses instinct over intellect, as an IQ test shows the movie version of Oher has little "ability to learn" but much "protective instinct" (a scientifically nonsensical statement, according to DiAngelo).[30]

Michael Oher has also voiced his displeasure with the movie and takes particular exception to its portrayal of his intelligence. In his book, I Beat The Odds: From Homelessness, to The Blind Side, and Beyond, Oher wrote "I felt like it [the movie] portrayed me as dumb instead of as a kid who had never had consistent academic instruction and ended up thriving once he got it."[31][32][33]. The film's claim that he didn't understand football was another point of irritation for Oher. When talking about watching his adoptive family teach him he said "No, that's not me at all! I've been studying — really studying — the game since I was a kid!"[31][33] Despite his displeasure with his portrayal in the movie Oher has stated that he likes the film's message of perseverance and the general treatment of the Tuohy family and has been quoted as saying "It's a great story. It seems like they helped me to get to this point. They're my family and without them I wouldn't be here," and "They taught me a lot of things, showed me a lot of different things. It shows that if you help somebody and give somebody a chance and don't judge people, look where they can get to."[34]


The Blind Side has earned numerous awards and nominations for the lead performance of Sandra Bullock.

Association Category Nominee Result
Academy Awards Best Picture Broderick Johnson, Andrew Kosove and Gil Netter Nominated
Best Actress in a Leading Role Sandra Bullock Won
Critics' Choice Awards Best Actress Won
Golden Globe Awards Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama Won
Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards Favorite Movie Actress Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role Won
People's Choice Awards Favorite Movie Actress Won
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Best Actress Nominated
Teen Choice Awards Choice Movie Actress: Drama Won
Choice Movie: Male Breakout Star Quinton Aaron Nominated
Choice Movie: Drama The Blind Side Won
ESPY Awards Best Sports Movie Won
Movieguide Awards Best Movie for Mature Audiences
Epiphany Prize for Inspiring Movies

Best Picture nomination[edit]

The nomination of The Blind Side for Best Picture was considered a surprise, even to its producers.[36] In an attempt to revitalize interest surrounding the awards, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences had upped the number of Best Picture nominees from a mandatory number of five to ten in time for the 82nd Academy Awards, the year The Blind Side was nominated.[37] However, in 2011, the Academy changed the policy, stating that the Best Picture category would feature from five to ten nominees depending on voting results, as opposed to a set number of nominees.[38][failed verification] The change was interpreted as a response to films like The Blind Side being nominated for Best Picture to fill up the set number of spots.[39][40]


The movie features 23 songs by artists including Les Paul, Young MC, Lucy Woodward, The Books, Canned Heat, Five for Fighting, and the film's co-star Tim McGraw.[41] However, while the score soundtrack by Carter Burwell was released on CD, none of the featured songs were included.

Home media[edit]

The Blind Side was released on DVD and Blu-ray on March 23, 2010. It was available exclusively for rental from Blockbuster for 28 days.[42]

Redbox and Netflix customers had to wait 28 days before they were able to rent the movie.[43][44] This stems from the settlement of a lawsuit brought by Redbox against Warner Home Video, who, in an attempt to boost DVD sales, refused to sell wholesale titles to Redbox. On August 19, 2009 Redbox sued Warner Home Video[45] to continue purchasing DVD titles at wholesale prices. On February 16, 2010, Redbox settled the lawsuit[44] and agreed to a 28-day window past the street date.

As of July 9, 2013, units sold for the DVD stand at more than 8.4 million copies and has grossed a further $107,962,159 adding to its total gross.[46]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e "The Blind Side Box Office". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved June 5, 2010.
  2. ^ a b Dave McNary (March 27, 2009). "Kathy Bates to star in 'Blind Side'". Variety. Retrieved June 7, 2009.
  3. ^ "The Blind Side (2009)". Internet Movie Database. April 22, 2009. Retrieved May 8, 2009.
  4. ^ Briarcrest opted out of feature role in 'The Blind Side' from
  5. ^ Schlabach, Mark (June 29, 2009). "Prominent coaches turn actors for film". ESPN. Retrieved July 1, 2009.
  6. ^ Johnson, Richard; Kirk, Jason (July 21, 2017). "Hugh Freeze, Houston Nutt, and Michael Oher just made 'The Blind Side' super weird". SB Nation. Retrieved December 27, 2018.
  7. ^ The Blind Side – Release dates
  8. ^ Abramowitz, Rachel (December 16, 2009). "A Bonanza Year for Sandra Bullock". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 8, 2010.
  9. ^ Swartzendruber, Jay (November 17, 2010). "Believers Walk the Talk in The Blind Side". Retrieved March 8, 2010.
  10. ^ "Sandra Bullock scores touchdown at box office" on Archived 2014-05-12 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ Weekend Box Office Results for November 20–22, 2009 from Box Office Mojo
  12. ^ Daily Box Office for Thursday, November 26, 2009 from Box Office Mojo
  13. ^ "'Blind Side' tops 'New Moon' at box office" Archived 2009-12-12 at the Wayback Machine from The Hollywood Reporter
  14. ^ Weekend Box Office Results for January 8–10, 2010 from Box Office Mojo
  15. ^ "'Avatar' passes $300 million mark on Friday, and Sandra Bullock makes box-office history" Archived 2012-05-29 at from Hollywood Insider
  16. ^ Sports – Football Movies at the Box Office. Box Office Mojo. Retrieved on January 23, 2011
  17. ^ Sports Drama Movies at the Box Office. Box Office Mojo. Retrieved on January 23, 2011
  18. ^ Weekend Report: ‘Avatar’ Rocks New Year’s. Box Office Mojo (January 4, 2010). Retrieved on January 23, 2011.
  19. ^ End-of-Run Report: 'Blind Side,' 'Crazy Heart,' 'Runaways' Close. Box Office Mojo (June 6, 2010). Retrieved on January 23, 2011
  20. ^ "The Blind Side". Yahoo!. Archived from the original on 2010-03-15. Retrieved July 23, 2010.
  21. ^ Gant, Charles (March 30, 2010). "Nanny McPhee sends Alice in Wonderland to the naughty step at the UK box office". Film. London: The Guardian. Retrieved July 23, 2010.
  22. ^ "The Blind Side (2009)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved August 31, 2020.
  23. ^ "The Blind Side: Reviews (2009)". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved December 26, 2009.
  24. ^ Cunningham, Todd; Zerbib, Kathy (2017-11-23). "19 of the Most Loved or Hated Movies: Films That Got A+ or F CinemaScores (Photos)". TheWrap. Retrieved 2019-05-29.
  25. ^ A. O. Scott, Steamrolling Over Life’s Obstacles With Family as Cheerleaders, 19 November 2009.
  26. ^ Michael Rechtshaffen (15 November 2009). "'The Blind Side': Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter.
  27. ^ Peter Bradshaw (25 March 2010). "Film review: The Blind Side". the Guardian.
  28. ^ Montez de Oca, J. (2012). White Domestic Goddess on a Postmodern Plantation: Charity and Commodity Racism in The Blind Side. Sociology Of Sport Journal, 29(2), 131–150.
  29. ^ Melissa Anderson, The Blind Side: What Would Black People Do Without Nice White Folks?, 19 November 2009.
  30. ^ DiAngelo, Robin (2018). White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism. Beacon Press. pp. 95–98. ISBN 978-0807047415.
  31. ^ a b Oher, Michael (2012). I Beat the Odds: From Homelessness, to The Blind Side, and Beyond. Avery. ISBN 1592406386.
  32. ^ "Michael Oher Says 'The Blind Side' Has Ruined His Football Career". Shadow and Act. April 20, 2017. Retrieved Aug 21, 2020.
  33. ^ a b Linda, Holmes (February 8, 2011). "Beyond 'The Blind Side,' Michael Oher Rewrites His Own Story". NPR. Retrieved August 21, 2020.
  34. ^ Person, Joseph (2016-01-29). "Super Bowl 50: 'The Blind Side' Michael Oher feels wanted at Carolina Panthers". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2017-11-28.
  35. ^ "2010 Movieguide Awards Winners". Movieguide. 1 February 2010. Retrieved 29 June 2017.
  36. ^ Michael Cieply and Paula Schwartz, ‘Blind Side’ Finds a Path to the Oscars by Running Up the Middle, The New York Times, February 10, 2010, accessed February 4, 2014.
  37. ^ "82nd Academy Awards to Feature 10 Best Picture Nominees". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. AMPAS. June 24, 2009. Archived from the original on April 8, 2010. Retrieved February 4, 2014.
  38. ^ "Academy Builds Surprise Into Best Picture Rules". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. AMPAS. June 14, 2011. Archived from the original on June 23, 2011. Retrieved February 4, 2014.
  39. ^ David Karger, The Academy's new Best Picture rule: How it will change the prediction period, Entertainment Weekly, June 15, 2011, accessed February 4, 2014.
  40. ^ Nicole Sperling and Amy Kaufman, Oscars change rule for best-picture race, Los Angeles Times, June 16, 2011, accessed February 4, 2014.
  41. ^ Blind Side, The [2009] Soundtrack @ what-song. Retrieved on January 23, 2011
  42. ^ Panchuk, Kerri (March 19, 2010). "Blockbuster CEO: The movie's not over yet".
  43. ^ Warner Bros. Home Entertainment And Netflix Announce New Agreements Covering Availability Of Dvds, Blu-Ray And Streaming Content Archived 2012-03-08 at the Wayback Machine. (January 6, 2010). Retrieved on January 23, 2011
  44. ^ a b redbox press room Archived 2010-05-30 at the Wayback Machine. redbox press room (February 16, 2010). Retrieved on January 23, 2011
  45. ^ redbox press room Archived 2010-03-29 at the Wayback Machine. redbox press room (August 19, 2009). Retrieved on January 23, 2011
  46. ^ The Blind Side – DVD Sales. The Numbers. Retrieved on July 9, 2013

External links[edit]