The Blind Side (film)
|The Blind Side|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||John Lee Hancock|
|Produced by||Broderick Johnson
|Screenplay by||John Lee Hancock|
|Based on||The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game
by Michael Lewis
|Music by||Carter Burwell|
|Edited by||Mark Livolsi|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. Pictures|
|Box office||$309.2 million|
The Blind Side is a 2009 American biographical sports drama film. It was written and directed by John Lee Hancock, and based on the 2006 book The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game by Michael Lewis. The storyline features Michael Oher, an offensive lineman who played for the Baltimore Ravens and the Tennessee Titans, and currently is signed with the Carolina Panthers in the 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), 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. The movie also features appearances by several current and former NCAA coaches, including SEC coaches Houston Nutt and Ed Orgeron (Oher's coaches in college, though Nutt represented Arkansas at the time and therefore does so in the film) and Nick Saban (who was at LSU at the time the movie is set and represents it in the film, but was the head coach at Alabama at the time of filming), former coaches Lou Holtz, Tommy Tuberville, Phillip Fulmer, as well as recruiting analyst Tom Lemming.
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 and the 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, which was considered a surprise for the producers.
Seventeen-year-old Michael Oher (Quinton Aaron) is talking to an investigator for the NCAA. Michael asks the investigator if he can leave but she says no.
The film flashes back. Michael has been in foster care with different families in Memphis, 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 (Ray McKinnon), 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 a poor academic record. Later, Michael walks out of the school and is befriended by a boy named Sean Jr. (Jae Head). "SJ" suggests that Michael smile at the other kids, knowing that he was trying to be friendly with them. SJ's mother, Leigh Anne Tuohy (Sandra Bullock), is a strong-minded interior designer and the wife of wealthy businessman Sean Tuohy (Tim McGraw). Leigh Anne notices Michael and ask SJ who is he is. SJ responds that he is "Big Mike".
The school staff tell Michael that his father has died, leaving Michael homeless. Later, SJ, Leigh Anne, and Sean watch their daughter Collins (Lily Collins) playing volleyball. After the match, Sean notices Michael picking up some leftover food on the bleachers. Michael, having no money for food, lives by scrounging half-empty containers of snacks after school games. Sean buys him a meal.
One night, Leigh Anne notices Michael walking on the road, shivering in the cold; when she learns he intends to spend the night huddled outside the school gym, Leigh Anne tells Sean to turn the car around. She tells Michael that the gym is closed and asks why he is going there. He replies that he is going there because it is warm and when Leigh Anne asks if he has somewhere to live, he says yes. However, Leigh Anne tells him not to lie to her and proceeds to offer him a place to stay at her home. Back at the Tuohy house, Leigh Anne sets up a bed for Michael on the couch. Sean asks Leigh Anne if it will just be for one night, to which Leigh Anne responds that she is not sure.
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 Tuohy family. When they are going to Michael's mother house, Leigh Anne attempts to ask him a question, he remains silent, then tells her he will just answer one question and states that he does not like to be called Big Mike and would rather be called Michael. Later, Leigh Anne drives Michael to his mother's house. Leigh Anne attempts to come up to the house with him but he tells her to stay in the car. When he approaches the door, he sees an eviction notice posted on the door. They later come to a shop because Anne wants to buy a new shirt for Michael.
Leigh Anne's friends Beth (Rhoda Griffis), Elaine (Eaddy Mays) and Sherry (Ashley LeConte Campbell) wonder what she is doing; they suggest that her daughter Collins is not safe around Michael, but Leigh Ann rebukes them. She later approaches Collins, asking how she feels about having Michael live with them. Collins replies that she does not care about rumors and that they cannot just throw Michael out. When Leigh Anne seeks to become Michael's legal guardian, she learns he was separated from his drug-addict mother when he was seven and that no one knows her whereabouts. She is also told that, although he has scored low in a career aptitude test, he is 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 utilizes his desire to protect her family as a teaching method.
From that moment, Michael starts to play well and be useful to his team. At the traditional Christmas card photograph of that year, Leigh Anne invites him to appear in the family photo. Leigh Anne meets her friends at a restaurant, where the other three women laugh about Leigh Anne's "project in the projects." She cuts them off, saying that if they don't respect what she does, she will stop seeing them. An opportunity arises for Michael to play at university level, but he first must improve his grades. The Tuohys hire a private tutor, the outspoken and kind Miss Sue (Kathy Bates), who is determined to succeed because she, like Leigh Anne, wants him to play for Ole Miss. During their geography lesson, she makes a remark about University of Tennessee burying the body parts of dead people under their football field, which Michael seems to believe blindly. While he had been leaning toward Tennessee, this event decides him ultimately to sign on with Ole Miss.
There comes a moment when Leigh Anne wants to have a face-to-face conversation with Michael's mother (Adriane Lenox) to enable her to adopt Michael. Although she seems unresponsive in the beginning, the mother finally wishes Michael the best. She says that social services had branded Michael "a runner," and she forecasts that Leigh Anne will find one day that he has run away for good without giving any previous notice. Leigh Anne also faces some tough guys from the projects who had made ugly insinuations about her before. They are left speechless when she threatens them and is not afraid of them at all.
Many universities want Michael to play on their teams. Sean talks to the coaches, and leads the negotiations on Michael's behalf—and his own. When Michael gets his grades high enough, he decides to attend Ole Miss, where Sean had played and Leigh Anne had been a cheerleader. That causes Investigator Granger (Sharon Conley) to look into the matter before Michael arrives there. She interrogates him, as she thinks that the Tuohys and Miss Sue are using Michael to benefit Ole Miss, their alma mater.
Michael runs away before the interview is over, and goes to find his birth mother. The leader of the tough guys welcomes him back to Hurt Village, offers him a beer, and insinuates that Michael has had sexual relations with Collins. This rouses Michael's protective instincts, as the gang leader threatens to go after her himself. Michael shoves him into a wall, knocking his gun aside. After thinking and questioning Leigh Anne on the matter, Michael realizes that the Tuohys are now his family, and tells Granger that that's the reason he has chosen Ole Miss.
The film ends with information about the real Tuohy family and Michael Oher, who went on to play in the NFL. The final shot of the film is of SJ leading the players, including Michael, onto the field before a game.
- Quinton Aaron as Michael "Big Mike" Oher
- Sandra Bullock as Leigh Anne Tuohy
- Tim McGraw as Sean Tuohy
- Jae Head as Sean "S.J." Tuohy, Jr.
- Lily Collins as Collins Tuohy
- Kathy Bates as Miss Sue
- Ray McKinnon as Coach Burt Cotton
- Kim Dickens as Mrs. Boswell
- Adriane Lenox as Denise Oher
- Eaddy Mays as Elaine
- Robert "IronE" Singleton as Alton
Coaches playing themselves
- Tommy Tuberville, then coach of Auburn
- Nick Saban, then coach of Louisiana State
- Lou Holtz, then coach of South Carolina
- Phillip Fulmer, then coach of Tennessee
- Houston Nutt, then coach of Arkansas
- Ed Orgeron, then coach of Ole Miss
The Blind Side was produced by Alcon Entertainment and released by Warner Bros. According to Reuters, the film's production budget was $29 million. 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 on November 20 in the rest of the United States and in Canada.
Academy Award winner Julia Roberts was originally offered Bullock's role, but turned it down. 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. 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.
The Blind Side opened in 3,110 theaters on its opening weekend, the weekend of November 20, 2009. It grossed a strong $34,510,000 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. In its opening weekend, the movie already proved to be a financial success, having a budget of just $29,000,000. It proved to have remarkable staying power, taking in an additional $9.5 million, bringing its gross to $60,125,000 by the weekend of November 27, 2009. 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 $100,250,000.
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. 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. 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. The Blind Side has also become the highest grossing football movie and sports drama of all time domestically  unadjusted for ticket inflation. The Blind Side ended its domestic theatrical run on June 4, 2010 (nearly 7 months after it opened), earning a total of $255,959,475. In the UK and Ireland, The Blind Side was released on March 26, 2010. It was the third biggest release of that weekend behind Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang and Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland.
The film received moderately positive reviews, with critics praising Sandra Bullock's performance. Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a rating of 66%, based on 196 reviews, with a rating average of 6.1/10. The site's general 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." Metacritic, which assigned a normalized score of 53 out of 100, based on 29 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". CinemaScore reported that audiences gave the film a rare "A+" grade.
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 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." 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.
Awards and nominations
The Blind Side has earned numerous awards and nominations for the lead performance of the film's star, Sandra Bullock.
|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 – 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||Movie Actress – Drama||Won|
|Breakout Male Actor||Quinton Aaron||Nominated|
|Favorite Drama Movie||The Blind Side||Won|
|ESPY Awards||Best Sports Movie||Won|
Best Picture nomination
The nomination of The Blind Side for Best Picture was considered a surprise, even to its producers. 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. However, in 2011, the Academy changed the policy, stating that the Best Picture category would feature between five and ten nominees depending on voting results, as opposed to a set number of nominees.[not in citation given] 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.
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. However, while the score soundtrack by Carter Burwell was released on CD, none of the featured songs were included.
The Blind Side was released on DVD and Blu-ray on March 23, 2010. The Blind Side was available exclusively for rental from Blockbuster for 28 days.
Redbox and Netflix customers had to wait 28 days before they were able to rent the movie. 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 to continue purchasing DVD titles at wholesale prices. On February 16, 2010, Redbox settled the lawsuit 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.
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- 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.
- Melissa Anderson, The Blind Side: What Would Black People Do Without Nice White Folks?, 19 November 2009.
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