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America’s Sweetheart: 8 Reasons We Love Sandra Bullock

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Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy in 20th Century Fox's 'The Heat'.

With "The Heat" opening nationwide on Friday, we once again have the opportunity to revel in the warm glow of our love for Sandra Bullock.

Go ahead, bask it in. Feels good, right?

Sure, Sandy's career has had its ups and downs ("Speed 2: Cruise Control"? "All About Steve"? Jesse James?), but we always find ourselves coming back for more. And with Bullock teaming up with the always-hilarious Melissa McCarthy, "The Heat" should earn plenty of love from her fans.

Why wouldn't it? Bullock's been packing theaters for the better part of 20 years now. But there's a reason she remains so loved, in fact, there are eight of them that spring to mind.

She's Not Afraid To Dress it Down
Bullock isn't afraid to dress it down. She seems to particularly enjoy playing the Ugly Duckling who turns into The Swan In A Slinky Dress (the publicity campaign for "Miss Congeniality" was practically built around this), and her persona suggests a woman who is cool with a burger and a beer at the corner bar come Friday night.

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Sandra Bullock in 'The Blind Side'. Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures.

She Likes To Play Highbrow And Lowbrow
After winning an Oscar for "The Blind Side," Bullock doesn't have to justify her credentials as an actress to anyone. But she's not afraid to mix up prestige projects with laugh-out-loud comedies – she's just as comfortable playing the celebrated author Harper Lee in "Infamous" as she is making Ben Affleck's life miserable in "Forces of Nature." And "The Heat" should find her showing off her broad comedy skills again, especially alongside McCarthy, who like Sandra isn't afraid to go there in pursuit of a laugh.

[Related: Exclusive: Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy Get Seriously Hammered in 'The Heat']

She Was Adorkable Before It Was Cool
In 1994, a time when most Americans had yet to ask themselves the question "What's a Zooey Deschanel?", Bullock enjoyed a career breakthrough as the cute and quirky Annie Porter in the blockbuster thriller "Speed." As Porter, Sandy proved she could be eccentric, charming, and sexy at the same time, and it seemed like you didn’t need to serenade her with a ukulele to get her attention.

She's A Nerd, And She's Proud Of It
Or at least if Bullock isn't a nerd, she sure knows how to play one convincingly. In 1995's "The Net," she starred as an IT whiz who was the first woman to order pizza online in a movie. Since then, she's successfully gotten her geek on in "Gun Shy," "Two Weeks Notice," "All About Steve," and the "Miss Congeniality" flicks (don’t try to tell me that snorting sound she makes isn't a nerd mating call). And her buy-the-book FBI agent in "The Heat" has more than a little geek in her DNA threat. Is it any wonder Raj on "The Big Bang Theory" is in love with her?

[Related: Sandra Bullock and son support ‘Blind Side’ player Michael Oher at Super Bowl XLVII]

She Accepted Her Own Razzie Award
The Golden Raspberry Awards, better known as "The Razzies," are handed out every year for the worst achievements in American filmmaking. In 2010, the same year that Bullock won her Academy Award for "The Blind Side," she also won the Worst Actress Razzie for her work in the frankly disastrous "All About Steve." While most actors would avoid acknowledging their worst work like the plague, Bullock not only showed up, but also gave a hilarious speech as she accepted the trophy and handed out free DVDs of the movie. Anyone can accept an Oscar, but a Razzie? That's someone with a sense of humor.

She's Got George Lopez's Back
Some major stars seem to choose their friends so they can be photographed with them at major events, looking cool and glamorous. But Bullock is well known for being pals with comic George Lopez, a fellow who seems about as "regular guy" as it gets in show biz. Sandy even helped get Lopez's TV career off the ground by serving as executive producer for his long-running sitcom, and guest-starred on the show three times.

[Related: Get Local Tickets and Showtimes for 'The Heat']

She Really Loves Her Dogs
How much does Bullock love her pooches Ruby and Poppy? She designed special seat belts for them, so they can ride safely in her car. Sadly, Sandy's caution comes from experience: she lost a pet that was riding in the cargo hold of a plane, and she vowed to be extra protective of their safety in the future. No one who loves dogs that much can be bad.

She Can Sing And Write Songs, But She Doesn't
Too many celebrities are convinced they rock, even though their singing is forgettable at best and obnoxious at worst (we're looking at you, Kevin Costner, Billy Bob Thornton, and Steven Seagal). For one of her early films, a story about struggling musicians in Nashville called "The Thing Called Love," Bullock wrote a song called "Heaven Knocked On My Door." While she could easily use her fame and wealth to continue down this path, Bullock has had the good sense to focus on her acting. Knowing your strengths is a virtue, Sandy, and it's one of the reasons we love you.

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See photos of Sandra Bullock over the years ...

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