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The Blind Side (film)

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The Blind Side
A relatively small blonde woman stands beside a large football player, facing away from the viewer.
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJohn Lee Hancock
Screenplay byJohn Lee Hancock
Based onThe Blind Side: Evolution of a Game
by Michael Lewis
Produced by
CinematographyAlar Kivilo
Edited byMark Livolsi
Music byCarter Burwell
Distributed byWarner Bros. Pictures
Release date
  • 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 sports drama film written and directed by John Lee Hancock. Based on the 2006 book of the same name by Michael Lewis,[2] the film tells the story of Michael Oher, a football offensive lineman who overcame an impoverished upbringing to play in the National Football League (NFL) with the help of Leigh Anne and Sean Tuohy. It stars Sandra Bullock as Leigh Anne, Tim McGraw as Sean, and Quinton Aaron as Oher.

The film was a commercial success, grossing $309 million on a $29 million budget. Despite mixed reviews from critics, Bullock's performance was universally praised, leading to her winning the Academy Award for Best Actress, the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama, and the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role.

The film was the subject of controversy in 2023 when Oher alleged the Tuohys tricked him into signing a conservatorship agreement instead of legally adopting him, which prevented him from receiving royalties[3] while the family indirectly made millions.[4]


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

The school staff tells 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 food discarded on the bleachers. On the eve of Thanksgiving, 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. Later, Leigh Anne drives Michael to his biological mother's house. He sees an eviction notice posted on the door, indicating that his mother is gone. Slowly, Michael becomes a member of the Tuohy family; Leigh Anne's friends question this and suggest that Collins might not be safe around him, but Leigh Anne criticizes 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 ranked in the 98th percentile in "protective instincts". Michael eventually improves his grades enough that he can play football at school. However, Michael appears to be hesitant to use his strength and size while practicing, Leigh Anne tells him, as an offensive lineman, he must protect his quarterback. From that moment, Michael improves dramatically, 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 Denise about adopting him. Although she seems unresponsive in the beginning, Denise finally wishes Michael the best. Michael is heavily recruited by many prestigious schools. SJ talks to coaches and negotiates on both 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"). But as Ole Miss was where Sean Sr. had played basketball, Leigh Anne had been a cheerleader, and Miss Sue had been as well, NCAA investigator Granger is tasked 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 Denise in Hurt Village. A gang leader welcomes him back, offers him a beer, and makes sexually offensive insinuations about Leigh Anne and Collins. When Michael gets angry, the gang leader threatens to go after them, and as a result, Michael battles with him and others. 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. He was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft and played in the National Football League.


Several NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision coaches and recruiters make brief appearances as themselves: Phillip Fulmer, Lou Holtz, Tom Lemming, Houston Nutt, Ed Orgeron, Pepper Rodgers, Nick Saban, and Tommy Tuberville.[5] Oher's coach from high school, Hugh Freeze, has an uncredited cameo as a coach watching game 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, including the now famous Taylor 'Ole' T' Fischer. 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 could not 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 second place behind The Twilight Saga: New Moon, earning $34.5 million during its opening weekend. It was the highest-grossing opening weekend of Sandra Bullock's career.[11] The movie enjoyed a rare greater success for the second weekend, taking in an estimated $40 million ranking again in second place to New Moon.[1] During its third weekend, The Blind Side moved up to first place, earning $20.4 million due to strong word-of-mouth.[12] In its fourth weekend, it moved down to second place, earning an estimated $15.5 million.[13]

By January 2010, the film had earned $200 million domestically, becoming an all-time career high for an actress whose sole name appears above the title.[14] By June 2010, the film ended its domestic theatrical run, earning a total of nearly $256 million.[15] In the United Kingdom and Ireland, the film was released on March 26, 2010.[16] It was the third biggest release of that weekend behind Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang and Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland.[17]

The Blind Side has also become the highest grossing football film and sports drama of all time domestically,[18][19] unadjusted for ticket inflation.[20]

Critical response[edit]

Sandra Bullock receiving the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role in 2010.

Sandra Bullock's performance on The Blind Side received enormous critical praise. Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a rating of 66%, based on 206 reviews, with an average rating of 6.1/10. 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."[21] Metacritic, which assigned a score of 53 out of 100, based on reviews from 29 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[22] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film a rare "A+" grade.[23]

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."[24]

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."[25] Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian described Bullock's appearance as "strangely humourless" and felt that "there is something weirdly absent about this performance." Overall, he opined that the film provided "a Photoshopped 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."[26]

Race relations[edit]

The film has been criticized for perpetuating the "white savior" trope. 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."[27] 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.[28]

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 that the film portrays Oher as a simpleton who uses instinct over intellect, as a psychological test concludes that Oher has little "ability to learn" but much "protective instinct" (a scientifically nonsensical statement, according to DiAngelo).[24][29]

Michael Oher has also voiced his displeasure with the movie and takes particular exception to its portrayal of his intelligence. In his 2012 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."[30][31][32] 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!"[30][32] 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."[33]


Award Category Nominee(s) Result Ref.
Academy Awards Best Picture Gil Netter, Andrew A. Kosove, and Broderick Johnson Nominated [34]
Best Actress Sandra Bullock Won
ASCAP Film and Television Music Awards Top Box Office Films Carter Burwell[a] Won
BET Awards Best Movie Nominated
Best Actor Quinton Aaron Nominated
Black Reel Awards Best Film Nominated [35]
Best Actor Quinton Aaron Nominated
Best Screenplay, Original or Adapted John Lee Hancock Nominated
Best Breakthrough Performance Quinton Aaron Nominated
Critics' Choice Movie Awards Best Actress Sandra Bullock Won[b] [36]
Best Young Actor/Actress Jae Head Nominated
Dallas–Fort Worth Film Critics Association Awards Best Actress Sandra Bullock 5th Place
Denver Film Critics Society Awards Best Actress Nominated
ESPY Awards Best Sports Movie John Lee Hancock Won [37]
Gold Derby Awards Best Lead Actress Sandra Bullock Nominated [38]
Golden Globe Awards Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama Won [39]
Hollywood Post Alliance Awards Outstanding Editing – Feature Film Mark Livolsi Nominated [40]
Houston Film Critics Society Awards Best Actress Sandra Bullock Nominated [41]
Movieguide Awards Best Movie for Mature Audiences Won [42]
Epiphany Prize for Inspiring Movies Won
MTV Movie Awards Best Female Performance Sandra Bullock Nominated [43]
Best Breakout Star Quinton Aaron Nominated
NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Motion Picture Nominated [44]
Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture Quinton Aaron Nominated
Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture Sandra Bullock Nominated
Outstanding Writing in a Motion Picture John Lee Hancock Nominated
Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards Favorite Movie Actress Sandra Bullock Nominated
Online Film & Television Association Awards Best Actress Nominated [45]
People's Choice Awards Favorite Movie Actress Won
Phoenix Film Critics Society Awards Best Performance by a Youth – Male Jae Head Won
San Diego Film Critics Society Awards Best Actress Sandra Bullock Nominated [46]
Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role Won [47]
Teen Choice Awards Choice Movie: Drama Won [48]
Choice Movie Actress: Drama Sandra Bullock Won
Choice Movie: Male Breakout Star Quinton Aaron Nominated
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Awards Best Actress Sandra Bullock Nominated [49]
Best Adapted Screenplay John Lee Hancock Nominated
World Soundtrack Awards Soundtrack Composer of the Year Carter Burwell[c] Nominated [50]
Young Artist Awards Best Performance in a Feature Film – Supporting Young Actor Jae Head Nominated [51]

Best Picture nomination[edit]

The nomination of The Blind Side for Best Picture was considered a surprise, even to its producers.[52] In an attempt to revitalize interest, 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.[53] 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.[54] 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.[55][56]


The film 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.[57] 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.[58]

Redbox and Netflix customers had to wait 28 days before they were able to rent the movie.[59][60] 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[61] to continue purchasing DVD titles at wholesale prices. On February 16, 2010, Redbox settled the lawsuit[60] 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 it has grossed a further $107,962,159 adding to its total gross.[62] The Blu-ray was reissued as part of the Best of Warner Bros. 50 Film Collection in 2013. There was also a release of this Limited Edition set issued on DVD.

Legal claim against Tuohy family[edit]

In August 2023, Oher filed a lawsuit alleging that Leigh Ann and Sean Tuohy never actually adopted him, but instead created a conservatorship which gave them legal authority to make business deals in his name.[63] He alleged that the Tuohys used their power as conservators to strike a deal that paid them and their two children millions of dollars in royalties from The Blind Side movie while Oher received nothing.[3] SJ Tuohy, the biological son of the Tuohy family, claims to have received "$60 - $70 grand over the course of the last four or five years."[64]

Oher's legal action asked the court to end the Tuohys' conservatorship and issue an injunction barring them from using his name and likeness or referring to themselves as his adopted family. It also asked for a full accounting of the money the Tuohys earned using Oher's name, to be paid his share of profits, and other compensatory and punitive damages.[65] The lawyer representing the Tuohys released a statement regarding Oher's remarks, describing them as "hurtful and absurd," and alleging that Oher had threatened to "plant a negative story about them in the press unless they paid him $15 million."[66]

“The biggest for me was being portrayed as not being able to read or write. When you go into a locker room and your teammates don’t think you can learn a playbook, that weighs heavy.”

— Michael Oher[67]

On September 29, the judge terminated the conservatorship, which the Tuohys had said they were happy to end.[68]

See also[edit]



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  2. ^ Dave McNary (March 27, 2009). "Kathy Bates to star in 'Blind Side'". Variety. Retrieved June 7, 2009.
  3. ^ a b Fletcher, Michael A. (August 14, 2023). "'Blind Side' subject Oher alleges Tuohys made millions off lie". ESPN. Retrieved August 14, 2023.
  4. ^ Kaplan, Anna (August 15, 2023). "The Blind Side family now What happened to the Tuohys after the movie came out". NBA News. The Today Show. Retrieved April 26, 2024.
  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". Crosswalk.com. Retrieved March 8, 2010.
  10. ^ "Sandra Bullock scores touchdown at box office" on Reuters.com
  11. ^ "Weekend Box Office Results for November 20–22, 2009". Box Office Mojo.
  12. ^ Diorio, Carl (December 6, 2009). "'Blind Side' tops 'New Moon' at box office". The Hollywood Reporter.
  13. ^ "Weekend Box Office Results for January 8–10, 2010". Box Office Mojo.
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  15. ^ Subers, Ray (June 6, 2010). "End-of-Run Report: 'Blind Side,' 'Crazy Heart,' 'Runaways' Close". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved January 23, 2011.
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  17. ^ 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.
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  28. ^ Anderson, Melissa (November 19, 2009). "The Blind Side: What Would Black People Do Without Nice White Folks?". Dallas Observer.
  29. ^ 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.
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  57. ^ Blind Side, The [2009] Soundtrack @ what-song. What-song.com. Retrieved on January 23, 2011
  58. ^ Panchuk, Kerri (March 19, 2010). "Blockbuster CEO: The movie's not over yet".
  59. ^ 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. Netflix.mediaroom.com (January 6, 2010). Retrieved on January 23, 2011
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  62. ^ The Blind Side – DVD Sales. The Numbers. Retrieved on July 9, 2013
  63. ^ Almond, Steve (August 17, 2023). "The back-and-forth over 'The Blind Side' misses the big picture. So did Michael Lewis". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 19, 2023.
  64. ^ Munz, Jason (August 14, 2023). "Tuohy biological son on former football player Michael Oher's allegations: 'I get it, why he's mad'". Commercial Appeal. Retrieved August 16, 2023.
  65. ^ Henderson, Jennifer; Levenson, Eric (August 14, 2023). "Michael Oher, depicted in 'The Blind Side,' alleges he was never adopted by Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy, but signed into a conservatorship". CNN. Retrieved August 16, 2023.
  66. ^ Blackwelder, Carson (August 16, 2023). "'The Blind Side' Tuohy family responds to Michael Oher's allegations, accuse him of $15M 'shakedown'". ABC 11 News, Raleigh-Durham, NC. Retrieved August 17, 2023.
  67. ^ Nanda, Rit. "Fact Check: Did Michael Oher have intellectual disabilities? Exploring fresh details about The Blind Side's star". sportskeeda.com. Retrieved November 16, 2023.
  68. ^ Nerkar, Santul (September 29, 2023). "Legal Arrangement in 'Blind Side' Case Is Terminated". The New York Times.

External links[edit]