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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - After 20 years, Sandra Bullock is finally thinking of herself as a good actress. And Hollywood seems to agree.
Bullock, best known for romantic comedies like "Miss Congeniality" and "Two Weeks Notice," initially balked at portraying a real person in the drama "The Blind Side" but the role brought Bullock her first Oscar nomination on Tuesday.
Long a popular favorite, Bullock's change of gear in "The Blind Side" has brought her a slew of honors, including a Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild award.
Now the 45-year-old actress stands on the brink of winning the movie industry's highest honor for her performance as a wealthy, strong-willed Christian mom who takes a homeless black high school football player into her family.
"Who would have thought after all these years that I would be experiencing this moment now ... I certainly didn't," Bullock said in a statement.
She thanked the movie's director, John Lee Hancock, and producer, Gil Netter, and the other Oscar-nominated actresses who include veterans Meryl Streep and Helen Mirren.
"My time with them these past few months has meant more to me than anything," Bullock said.
Bullock has said she was terrified at the thought of playing Leigh Anne Tuohy, the blond Memphis mother whose true story is the basis of "The Blind Side."
"I didn't know how to approach it or what I could bring to it so I just kept saying, 'No this is not going to work for me,'" she said in an interview promoting the movie last year.
She changed her mind only after meeting and getting to know Tuohy.
Bullock took time away from acting a few years ago, saying she never really considered herself an actress "because I never thought I was good enough."
But during that break she met motorcycle maker Jesse James, who she married in 2005, and started saying "no" to mediocre roles.
Then came "Crash," the drama about bigotry and race in Los Angeles that won the best picture Oscar in 2006 and showed off Bullock's serious side.
Last year brought mixed blessings. She had another popular romantic comedy, "The Proposal," which made $314 million at the worldwide box office, and "The Blind Side," which has earned a surprise $237 million U.S. box office hit. But she also starred in the dismal "All About Steve," which this week earned Bullock a Razzie nomination as the worst actress of 2009.
Can Bullock be voted both the best and worst movie actress of the year? She will have to wait until the Oscar ceremony on March 7 to find out.
Editing by Bob Tourtellotte and Bill Trott