- Associated Press - Monday, February 28, 2011

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Sandra Bullock was an Academy Award winner even without a trophy in hand, returning with humor and verve to the stage where she trumped as best actress last year.

That professional peak, winning for “The Blind Side,” was followed days later by personal depths as allegations of infidelity surfaced against her then-husband, Jesse James.

Bullock carried on with grace as a single mom to an adopted baby and didn’t look back. Ceremony co-host Anne Hathaway tipped her hat to Bullock in her introduction.

“This is a special moment for me: a chance to introduce a woman who is at the top of her craft as a performer, yet who is perhaps admired even more for who she is as a person,” Hathaway said.

James, a biker-businessman and reality TV star, and Bullock had been married for five years and brought home infant Louis Bardo Bullock the month before the Oscars. He later told ABC’s “Nightline” that he was the most hated man in the world for undercutting Bullock’s career high with his unfaithfulness.

James became engaged last month to tattoo artist Kat Von D.

Bullock, who presented the best-actor award that went to Colin Firth for “The King’s Speech,” was charmingly breezy as she introduced each of the nominees.

“Jeff, dude, dude … How much is enough? Huh? Think about it,” she said to Jeff Bridges, nominated for “True Grit” after winning last year for “Crazy Heart.”

Before the ceremony, Bullock _ in a flaming, strapless red dress _ didn’t avoid the pre-show cameras.

Asked if motherhood has changed her as an actor, she replied: “It’s made me a better person. I’m more patient.”

The 46-year-old actress played it coy when asked about who she favored in the ceremony.

“I’m voting for me to have a really good time,” she said. So, based on the warm applause she got, were her peers in the Kodak Theatre.

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