Total Recall: Reese Witherspoon's Best Movies

We count down the best-reviewed work of the Water for Elephants star.

Reese Witherspoon

She's one of the highest-paid stars in Hollywood, with nearly 30 films to her credit and a lifetime box office gross total topping a billion dollars -- and this weekend, Reese Witherspoon will add to that impressive sum with Water for Elephants, the adaptation of Sara Gruen's bestselling novel about a circus veterinarian (Robert Pattinson) who falls in love with a performer (Witherspoon) married to the troupe's cruel animal trainer (Christoph Waltz). To celebrate her return to the big screen, we decided to dedicate this week's Total Recall to an appreciative look back at some of Reese's best-reviewed releases -- an admirably eclectic batch that includes some of the most successful films of the last 15 years. Which ones are your favorites?


58%

10. The Importance of Being Earnest

Witherspoon earned a Teen Choice Award nomination for her work as dreamy Cecily Cardew in this adaptation of the classic Oscar Wilde play, directed by Oliver Parker and written by Julian Fellowes, with a cast that also included the prodigious talents of Colin Firth, Rupert Everett, and Judi Dench. With all that going for it -- not to mention that terrific source material -- the 2002 edition of The Importance of Being Earnest should have been a big critical winner; alas and alack, it veered rotten, and wound up grossing under $10 million in the bargain. But it was good enough for plenty of critics, including Christine James of Boxoffice Magazine, who wrote, "On this esteemed list of players, Witherspoon may seem like the poor relation, but, like her rosy-cheeked, starry-eyed character, her beauty, poise and insouciance make her the center of attention in every scene she's in."


59%

9. Twilight

No, not that Twilight, silly. This here is the deliberately paced, smartly scripted tale of an aging gumshoe (Paul Newman) who's drawn into the dangerous web of intrigue surrounding the movie star husband and wife (Gene Hackman and Susan Sarandon) whose garage he lives in. Witherspoon plays a supporting role as the couple's willful daughter, who runs away with Liev Schreiber in the first act (and makes a memorably unclothed entrance). It wasn't a huge hit, but Twilight gave Newman a chance to reunite with Nobody's Fool director Robert Benton, as well as writer Richard Russo, and mingle with an impeccable cast that also included Stockard Channing and James Garner. As Larry Carroll of Counting Down put it, "It's so good to see this cast working together that you're willing to forgive the film's little shortcomings."


67%

8. American Psycho

It took nine years, but Bret Easton Ellis' controversial 1991 novel got the big-screen treatment with this adaptation, which cast Christian Bale as the loathsome, status-obsessed serial killer Patrick Bateman, and Witherspoon as his equally shallow girlfriend. Though many of the cultural touchstones described in the book had faded by the time American Psycho reached the screen, its central observations -- and the consumer culture that produced them -- remained as timely as ever. Its torrent of generally unappealing behavior and horrific violence make Psycho an unpleasant film, but one that, in the words of Time's Richard Corliss, "needs to be seen and appreciated, like a serpent in a glass cage."


68%

7. Legally Blonde

Critics tend to vilify the romantic comedy, but it's an undeniable rite of passage for twentysomething actresses in Hollywood, and with 2001's Legally Blonde, Witherspoon managed to enjoy the perks of the genre (such as the pay raise that comes with toplining a $141 million smash hit) without succumbing to its worst pitfalls (including dreadful scripts and scathing reviews). While Legally Blonde is far from groundbreaking, and its plot hinges on any number of silly contrivances, it's never less than likable -- largely thanks to a magnetic performance from its talented leading lady. In the words of Entertainment Weekly's Lisa Schwarzbaum, "As an actor of distinction who's all of 25, Reese Witherspoon reveals interesting dark roots even as she plays golden girls."


72%

6. Monsters vs. Aliens

In real life, Reese Witherspoon is a hair under five feet, two inches tall, which might be why the idea of playing a freakishly tall woman nicknamed "Ginormica" appealed to her -- or maybe it was just the chance to score one of those cushy voice acting gigs that all the major celebrities seem to get these days. Either way, the result was Monsters vs. Aliens, Witherspoon's only film of 2009 and a $381 million 3D hit for DreamWorks Animation. Alongside the famous voices of Seth Rogen, Kiefer Sutherland, Steven Colbert, Rainn Wilson, Will Arnett, and others, Witherspoon helped wreak family-friendly cartoon havoc -- and helped earn praise from critics like the Houston Chronicle's Amy Biancolli, who wrote, "True, the story doesn't amount to much, but the plot tends to take a back seat when you've got a not-quite-50-foot version of Reese Witherspoon duking it out with a mighty alien robot alongside the Golden Gate Bridge."

Comments

MAMOVIES

Matheus Cassiano

She's cute^^

Apr 20 - 05:30 PM

Sam T.

Sam Tulley

Soooo Hot, want to touch the heiny

Apr 20 - 05:57 PM

ap sirius

karl anderson

didnt realise she was in American Psycho...Ill have to check it out again.....amazing book if you get the chance to read it...

Apr 20 - 06:36 PM

Valmordas

Val Mordas

'Election' waaay overrated. In fact pretty much all of these films were blah.

Apr 20 - 06:49 PM

dethburger

dethburger hates Flixster

I disagree. Election is great.

Apr 20 - 09:35 PM

Smartest Person Here

Greg Bonnette

I do agree that Election is over-rated...and so do 4 out of 5 dentists.

Apr 21 - 06:08 AM

Enrique N.

Enrique Nodarse

Election was a great movie. Dark and clever....well written.

Apr 23 - 12:17 PM

ballermat982

ballermat 982

I had the biggest crush on her when I was younger. I think I first saw her in little nicky. She still looks great!

Apr 20 - 06:53 PM

infernaldude

Infernal Dude

Her popularity always perplexed me. But Election is a pretty good movie. "We went back to my house for a hot tub and blowjob." Classic line.

Apr 20 - 08:04 PM

scarletheels

MiYon Richardson

I like her. :) I agree with most of the movies on this list. I didn't realize she was in American Psycho either.

Apr 20 - 09:11 PM

Bigbrother

Big Brother

She was Christian Bale's wife.

Apr 21 - 06:00 AM

CFM

'schak Attack

Nay, they were just engaged.

Apr 21 - 08:34 AM

Bigbrother

Big Brother

Correct my bad.

Apr 21 - 09:36 AM

Ken

Kenneth W.

And she wasn't terribly important to him.

Apr 21 - 08:50 PM

algreen99

AL Green

Freeway was good. I enjoyed it.

Apr 20 - 09:12 PM

Brad H.

Brad Hadfield

She was badass in Freeway, and Keifer Sutherland was amazingly creepy. She needs to tap back in to that old indie spirit and quit with the romantic comedies.

Kind of surprised "Rendition" didn't make the list. I know it bombed a few years ago, but it was really good and she was good in it.

I really wanted to like "Pleasantville," and while it was okay I still think it's very overrated.

Apr 21 - 06:59 AM

dethburger

dethburger hates Flixster

I disagree. Election is great.

Apr 20 - 09:35 PM

dethburger

dethburger hates Flixster

I'd like to spend sometime alone with Reese and a bottle of baby oil.

Apr 20 - 09:36 PM

David R.

David Rocha

Her role in American Psycho was very forgettable. She played Bale's girlfriend, she was probably in the film for less than 5 minutes.

Apr 20 - 10:09 PM

Wisenheimer

Joshua Dinsmore

I used to hate her, but she is actually a great actor. Can't wait to see what Water for Elephants gets on RT. I'm thinking 70-ish.

Apr 20 - 10:27 PM

Wisenheimer

Joshua Dinsmore

Sorry, I meant actress.

Apr 22 - 12:50 PM

bassbait t.

bassbait the monkey

I don't get Pleasantville. It's not funny in any way to me, and I don't really see the drama. It just seems like an overview of the 50's and how different our world is from it, due to the 60's changing everything. But it's not particularly funny, and it's not particularly good drama.

I LOVE The Truman Show. That is a GREAT movie, as both a comedy and a drama. One of Jim Carrey's best roles. I love Back to the Future, although not as much as The Truman Show. So how on earth is Pleasantville better than BOTH?

Apr 20 - 11:15 PM

Valmordas

Val Mordas

It's not.

Apr 21 - 05:25 AM

Bigbrother

Big Brother

Did someone claim it was? My favorite Reese movie is still Cruel Intentions. When she does the face it still cracks me up.

Apr 21 - 06:02 AM

Brad H.

Brad Hadfield

The best thing about that movie was Gellar's coke-filled crucifix necklace. "Everytime I'm feeling low, I simply turn to Jesus."

Apr 21 - 10:05 AM

Valmordas

Val Mordas

It's not.

Apr 21 - 05:25 AM

Bigbrother

Big Brother

Did someone claim it was? My favorite Reese movie is still Cruel Intentions. When she does the face it still cracks me up.

Apr 21 - 06:02 AM

Brad H.

Brad Hadfield

The best thing about that movie was Gellar's coke-filled crucifix necklace. "Everytime I'm feeling low, I simply turn to Jesus."

Apr 21 - 10:05 AM

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