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Did I really earn this: Bullock

Los Angeles, March 8 (AP): Sandra Bullock paid her dues in Hollywood for more than 20 years, beloved by the moviegoing public if not always the critics.

She was rewarded last night, winning the best-actress Oscar for playing a tough white Southern woman who adopted a black child in The Blind Side.

Bullock had repeatedly said she didn’t think she was going to win for the part she initially turned down, although the 45-year-old actress was a heavy favourite.

“Did I really earn this or did I just wear you all down?” she said after accepting the award from Sean Penn.

“I have so many people to thank for my good fortune in this lifetime and this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, I know.”

In the closest race of the acting categories, Bullock was up against Meryl Steep in Julie & Julia, former winner Helen Mirren in The Last Station, and breakout stars Gabourey Sidibe of Precious and Carey Mulligan of An Education for their first-time leading roles. All the acting winners were first-time nominees.

In The Blind Side, Bullock donned a frosted blond wig and a Tennessee twang to play Leigh Anne Tuohy, the real-life adoptive mother of Baltimore Ravens football player Michael Oher. Bullock had already won the Screen Actors Guild and Golden Globe awards, and tied Streep at the Broadcast Film Critics awards. Streep also won at the Globes.

At 60, Streep is the most nominated actor, male or female, of all time with 16 nods, but she’s gone home empty-handed since her last best-actress win for Sophie’s Choice in 1983. Her other victory was as supporting actress for Kramer vs. Kramer.

“I look at the company I keep in this category and you can’t pick,” Bullock said backstage. “There’s not one that rises above the others. I feel like I share it equally in five parts because we ladies need to stick together.”

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