Why it's significant that Sandra Bullock is People's oldest 'most beautiful' woman

Why it's significant that Sandra Bullock is People's oldest 'most beautiful' woman
At 50, Bullock is the oldest woman to ever win the "most beautiful" title.
People has named Sandra Bullock the world's most beautiful woman of 2015. But why did she win?

Bullock doesn't have much on her plate this year — she's the voice of Scarlett Overkill in the new "Minions" movie and her other film, "Our Brand is Crisis," isn't scheduled to come out until 2016. She's not exactly on anyone's radar, so what's up?

The "most beautiful" and sexiest man alive" designations have little to do with attractiveness and everything to do with the agenda of Hollywood publicists. Elaine Lui of Lainey Gossip provides some of the most insightful coverage when it comes to the process of figuring out who wins these sorts of covers and why, which are awarded with the cooperation of the star in question.

This apparently is why Ryan Gosling has never been named Sexiest Man Alive — he's turned it down repeatedly. When Chris Hemsworth was named Sexiest Man Alive last year, Lui noted that Hemsworth had been fairly absent from the public for most of the year but the cover provided some income for his "fame-bank."
So what's in it for Bullock? At 50, Bullock is the oldest woman to ever win the "most beautiful" title. She is well into territory where many an actress begins a slow — not necessarily voluntary_ fade-away, and the roles being offered are for sexless, cranky old-lady types or sexless mother figures.

In 2011, the New Yorker published an essay by Tina Fey that also made it into her book, "Bossypants."

"I have a suspicion — and hear me out, because this is a rough one — that the definition of 'crazy' in show business is a woman who keeps talking even after no one wants to (have sex with) her anymore," she wrote.

Will being deemed "most beautiful" in the eyes of People be enough to rebrand Bullock and prolong her career? That's essentially what her 2009 role in "The Proposal" was supposed to do. Much of the buzz surrounding that movie was about how extraordinary it was that a woman in her mid-40s was dating a younger man.

As a calculated move, it makes sense to accept People's honor, and the accompanying article focuses on Bullock's real-life role as the mother of a young son. She's not in "Something's Gotta Give"/"It's Complicated" territory yet, but she's also not a girl-next-door type, either. She's not coolly aloof in the way that Tilda Swinton is. Her closest contemporary is four-time designee Julia Roberts, whose last three roles were doctor, stressed-out mom, and an evil, princess-hating queen.

Bullock being named shines some attention on the dearth of quality roles for real, adult women over the age of 40. Looks like Meryl Streep's decision to fund a screenwriting lab for older women is coming right on time.

"Real beauty is quiet," Bullock told People. "Especially in this town, it's just so hard not to say, 'Oh, I need to look like that.' No, be a good person, be a good mom, do a good job with the lunch, let someone cut in front of you who looks like they're in a bigger hurry. The people I find most beautiful are the ones who aren't trying."

For better or worse, Bullock is very much trying, but she has the added burden of making it look effortless. That's her job.