Reese Witherspoon is an Oscar, Emmy, BAFTA, and Golden Globe winner. She was a child actor who didn’t wind up all messed up, and has worked rather consistently since 1993. She’s been in several interesting projects, as well as a few bad romantic comedies. Hey, nobody’s perfect.
Here are the top 10 movies from the career of Reese Witherspoon.
Admittedly, it’s Christian Bale who carries American Psycho. The adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis’ novel is a satire of yuppie culture and the laissez-faire capitalism of the time the novel was written. It works as a dark comedy and a thriller, too, and rarely has a dull moment. It can be difficult to watch if you need likable characters in order to relate to its events, but it’s a fascinating watch for those who understand that, sometimes, there are no good people in a room.
Best Laid Plans
Best Laid Plans is a little-seen thriller that made less than $30,000 at the box office, despite having a reported budget of $7 million. It’s a thriller with a trio of main characters, contains murder, drug dealers, a time-sensitive plot, and Abraham Lincoln. It has its attention split between the “present” and a flashback but manages to make both halves of its story engaging. If you want a good thriller, and you feel like you’ve “seen everything,” give it a look.
Fun fact for you: Cruel Intentions spawned not one but two sequels. They both went direct-to-video. The first of those has one of the earliest appearances of Amy Adams. They’re not even that terrible, really. The second one is basically a worse remake of the first, while the third goes and does its own thing. Now you’ve learned something.
Cruel Intentions has a lot of manipulation. Its hinges on a bet between two siblings: can the male sibling sleep with a virgin, who is played by Reese Witherspoon. From there, we watch these awful people do terrible, devious things. There’s a hint of social satire, there’s some dark comedy, and there are even some thrills. It’s compelling. Horrible, but never not engaging.
Election is a social commentary taking place within a school election. It sees Witherspoon lead as an ambitious young woman hoping to win the election at all costs. It also follows one of her teachers who … well, you’ll see. It works as a satire, as a drama, and as a pure comedy. It’s a lot of fun, its cartoonish characters are relatable – you either were or knew people like these in high school. It’s smarter than it needed to be, and one of the best high school movies we have.
Freeway is a darker take on “Little Red Riding Hood.” It focuses on a teenager delinquent who runs away from home (and her social worker), and along the way she gets … pursued, I guess, by a man who is both a pedophile and murderer. It’s twisted, and it’s going to be off-putting for some people, but I think it’s really good.
Inherent Vice is a movie not about its plot, which is largely irrelevant and is too twisty and lacks definition to truly follow, anyway, especially on a first viewing. It’s about the mood, the 1970s setting, the absurd events that happen from scene to scene, and its performances. It’s technically a detective story, but it has so much more going on that it kind of falls into the background. It’s well worth watching – it’s a Paul Thomas Anderson movie, so of course it is – but just know what to expect.
Legally Blonde is probably the most famous role from Reese Witherspoon’s career. Her turn as a “dumb” blonde who winds up getting into Harvard Law School in order to get a law degree – all to win back her ex-boyfriend – is great. She’s charming and hilarious. The whole movie is funny, but it does suffer in the few moments in which Witherspoon isn’t on the screen. It also gets to make fun of the stuffy law school society, and its script is pretty sharp. The sequels – well, a sequel and a spin-off – aren’t worth your time, but the original definitely is.
Mud is a deliberately paced movie about the growth of a teenager and love. It’s long but not dull, assuming you get engrossed in its story. Jeff Nichols’ movies are pretty much all this way; they’re slowly paced but quickly captivate the viewer and don’t let go until the end. It has a very good teenager performance from Tye Sheridan, a really strong one from Matthew McConaughey, and Reese Witherspoon’s small role is worthwhile, too.
Walk the Line
While Legally Blonde may have Reese Witherspoon’s most iconic role, Walk the Line is the film that won her an Oscar. She plays June Carter, wife of Johnny Cash. The movie is based on Cash’s early life, his romance with Carter, and his journey to get into the country music scene. Joaquin Phoenix plays Cash, and he was also nominated for an Oscar. It’s a strong biopic, assuming the subject is of interest to you.
When people need to change something in their lives or learn something about themselves, they sometimes go on a trip. In Wild, our protagonist – who needs to get her life straightened out – goes on a hike. A really long hike. A 1,110-mile hike on the Pacific Crest Trail. It’s based on a true story, it’s filled with adventure and self-discovery, and contains another fine performance from Reese Witherspoon, who was nominated for her second Oscar.