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Tom O'Neil has the inside track on Oscars, Emmys, Grammys and all the award shows.

Category: Reese Witherspoon

Sandra Bullock and Kate Winslet: Victims of Oscar curse?

March 17, 2010 |  3:32 pm

Just days after last year's Oscar winner Kate Winslet announced her split with hubby Sam Mendes comes news that the marriage of the newest champ, Sandra Bullock, may be on the rocks. In Touch Weekly reports that Bullock's hubby, Jesse James, had an affair on the sly while Bullock was filming "The Blind Side."

Kate winslet sandra bullock Oscars news

Now Oscarologists wonder: Is there really a kiss of death curse associated with winning best actress?

Over the past 12 years, eight of the best-actress champs busted up with their lovers after winning: Kate Winslet (won for 2008), Reese Witherspoon (2005), Hilary Swank (1999, 2005), Charlize Theron (2003), Halle Berry (2001), Julia Roberts (2000), Gwyneth Paltrow (1998), Helen Hunt (1997). Five of the splits occurred less than a year after their Oscar triumphs (Winslet from hubby Mendes, Witherspoon from hubby Ryan Phillippe, Swank from hubby Chad Lowe, Paltrow from boyfriend Ben Affleck, Roberts from boyfriend Benjamin Bratt). Berry's break-up with Eric Benet occurred 18 months after winning; Hunt split with Hank Azaria less than two years later.

It's ironic, looking back, at how effusively the stars gushed at the Oscar podium while thanking their men on the eve of their relationship's end.

Witherspoon: "I want to say thank you to my wonderful husband."

Swank in 2005: "Chad, you're my everything. Thank you for your support. It means the world."

Berry: "My husband, who is the joy of my life."

Bullock to James: "You get dressed up in monkey suits and you sit at a table with people you don't know. I love you so much, and you're really hot. And I want you so much!"

Can it be a mere coincidence that these women's romantic lives go kaput so soon after the biggest triumph of their careers? Is it because victory goes to their heads and these women become impossible divas to live with? Or is it because their men are overly macho types who can't tolerate being upstaged by their female partners' success? The latter may be a contributing factor in the split of Witherspoon and Phillippe. There were reports that Phillippe looked miserable and pouted all night at the parties — where he obviously didn't want to be — after Witherspoon won. Ryan should've exulted in his own victory too. That same night his film "Crash" won best picture, but he didn't win a statuette himself. Some observers believe that bothered him a lot as Reese flashed her glittering golden boy right and left, leaving her lover boy sitting alone in a corner, looking downcast.


Robert Osborne has 'several quibbles' about the Oscars show

Quiz: Who gave this cheeky acceptance speech at the Oscars?

So what did we learn from this year's Oscars?

What movies are the next Oscar front-runners?

How 'Casablanca' beat nine other nominees to win best picture at the 1943 Oscars

Farrah Fawcett missing from 'In Memoriam' at Oscars

How did 'The Hurt Locker' defy the odds at the Oscars?

'The Hurt Locker' wins six Oscars, including history maker for director Kathryn Bigelow

This Oscars show was not a winner

Poll: What did you think of the Oscars telecast?

Photo: Los Angeles Times 

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'Monsters vs. Aliens' knocked out by critics

March 27, 2009 | 11:09 am

"Monsters vs. Aliens" may win the box office this weekend, but this new 3-D animated feature is unlikely to be contending for any major awards. Based on overall mixed reviews, "Monsters vs. Aliens" scored a mere 55 at Meta Critic and a barely better 59 with the top critics on Rotten Tomatoes.


By way of comparison, Oscar champ "Wall-E" came in at 93 on Meta Critic and a jaw-dropping 97 with Rotten Tomatoes. Oscar also-ran "Kung Fu Panda" — which swept the Annie Awards — managed 73 at Meta Critic and 74 at Rotten Tomatoes.

Of the top critics, only Claudia Puig of USA Today was enthusiastic about "Monsters vs. Aliens," noting, "Dazzling colors, winning characters and energetic visual effects all work in concert, with the 3-D animation serving to intensify the experience." However, most reviewers agreed with the sentiments of Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times, who says, "I didn't find the movie rich with humor, unless frenetic action is funny. Maybe kids have learned to think so. Too bad for them. Think of the depth of 'Pinocchio.' Kids in those days were treated with respect for their intelligence. 'Monsters vs. Aliens' is also lacking in wit."

"Monsters vs. Aliens" is written and directed by Rob Letterman, who helmed the 2004 Oscar-nominated "Shark Tale," and co-directed by Conrad Vernon, who was part of the team behind "Shrek 2," another 2004 Oscar nominee. Both those pictures lost the animated feature race to "The Incredibles."

This new movie about supersize heroes is unlikely to be another contender for DreamWorks, which has a honored history with the Oscars. The studio won the first animated feature Oscar with "Shrek," in 2001 and was nominated four more times on its own — "Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron" (2002); both "Shark Tale" and "Shrek 2" (2004); and "Kung Fu Panda" (2008). In addition, it co-produced 2005 champ "Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit."

Last month's animated 3-D release — "Coraline" — did far better with the critics, earning a solid 80 at Meta Critic and 79 with the top reviewers on Rotten Tomatoes. That film, based on the acclaimed book by Neil Gaiman, was directed by Henry Selick, who helmed two highly acclaimed stop-motion films — "The Nightmare Before Christmas" (1993) and "James and the Giant Peach" (1996) — that predated the introduction of the animated feature category at the Oscars.


Dennis Quaid and Julianne Moore reunite to play Bill & Hillary Clinton

Anne Hathaway could contend at Oscars and Tonys for playing Judy Garland

Will Michelle Pfeiffer seduce Oscar voters with 'Cheri'?

Julia Roberts may nab a fourth Golden Globe for 'Duplicity'

Do you think Johnny Depp is the actor most overdue to win an Oscar?

Which winners would you force to give back their Oscars?

Matt Damon says Oscars usually get it wrong

Photo: DreamWorks

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Get Gold Derby on Twitter. Join the Gold Derby Group at Facebook. Become friends with Tom O'Neil on Facebook. Get Gold Derby RSS feed via Facebook. RSS Feedburner. RSS Atom.

Can Reese Witherspoon and Ben Stiller rescue Cameron Crowe's awards hopes?

June 9, 2008 |  4:59 pm


Seven years ago writer-director Cameron Crowe was riding high. His screenplay for "Almost Famous" had won him an Academy Award. And Crowe had just finished writing and directing "Vanilla Sky," which reunited him with Tom Cruise, the star of his 1996 smash hit "Jerry Maguire," which had earned five Oscar noms, including bids for best picture and screenplay (Crowe).

Now fast forward to the fall of 2005 and the misfire that was "Elizabethtown." This road trip comedy featuring a miscast Orlando Bloom as a thirtysomething in career crisis had run out of gas during its screenings at the Venice and Toronto filmfests. Though Crowe hastily trimmed the film from two hours plus, it did mediocre business when it was released in October.

Nearly three years on comes word via Variety that the wounded Crowe is ready to try and fly again with a new romantic comedy. His script has attracted the attention of two A-listers who define this genre — Reese Witherspoon and Ben Stiller.

With lensing set to start at the beginning of 2009, might we see all three of these thoroughbreds in the awards derby at year's end?

(New Line)

Uh-oh! Maybe Helena should drop to supporting, after all?

October 27, 2007 |  3:40 pm


Come to think of it, considering Oscar history, Helena Bonham Carter might be better off pulling that sneaky ole trick successfully employed by other crafy divas: drop to supporting where lead roles — just because of sheer size — have a better chance to win. Carter is old academy news. She was nominated for best actress in 1997 for "Wings of the Dove," losing to Helen Hunt ("As Good As It Gets"), who is one of many dames who claimed that category upon her first nomination.

Oscar voters, remember, love ingénues. These are just some of the gals who won best actress their first time up: Charlize Theron, Reese Witherspoon, Halle Berry, Gwyneth Paltrow, Hilary Swank, Marlee Matlin, Sally Field, Louise Fletcher, Glenda Jackson, Julie Christie, Sophia Loren, Joanne Woodward, Anna Magnani, Shirley Booth, Judy Holliday, Bette Davis (after a failed write-in campaign for "Of Human Bondage" — that doesn't count as a nomination), Luise Rainer and Katharine Hepburn.

Oscars fate: The lone Yankee doesn't always win

September 29, 2007 |  8:43 pm


Some Oscar smackdowns will never end! Example: Did "Shakespeare in Love" or "Saving Private Ryan" deserve to win best pic of 1998? Go 'head and pitch your tomatoes at me — I say Oscar voters got it right with "Shakespeare"! Take that! Ha!

I don't feel so strongly about voters picking Marisa Tomei ("My Counsin Vinny") as best supporting actress of 1992, old news that's triggering another fight in our forums today.

Tomei's victory was a surprise for two reasons: it honored an outrageously comedic role and an outrageously crass and foul-mouthed role.

Some Oscarologists credit her win to outrageous patriotism. Tomei was the only Yankee in the category that also included Miranda Richardson ("Damage"), Joan Plowright ("Enchanted April"), Vanessa Redgrave ("Howards End") and Judy Davis ("Husbands and Wives").

CLICK HERE to Continue Reading!

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'Rendition's' Oscar hopes dashed in Toronto

September 9, 2007 |  9:40 pm

"Rendition" sure looks like Oscar bait, having a disastrous U.S. policy on Iraq as a theme and being toplined by recent best-actress champ Reese Witherspoon and supporting actor nominee Jake Gyllenhaal. But film critics gave it a different rendition in Toronto. The Hollywood Reporter dismissed it as "a heavy-handed thriller with simplistic characters and manipulative story lines." (READ MORE) Variety says it's "dull . . . a middlebrow stab at political relevance." (READ MORE)


Photo: Isabella El-Ibrahim (Witherspoon) turns to an old pal (Peter Sarsgaard), who's now a top government official, to help her find her husband, who's being secretly tortured by the U.S. (New Line)

Did Oscar break up Reese and Ryan?

October 31, 2006 |  9:08 am


"Oscar did it again!" roars our forums poster "Academy Awards Guru" upon hearing the news that the latest best actress champ (Reese Witherspoon) busted up with her beau (Ryan Phillippe) soon after hooking up with Hollywood's naked golden boy.

Other examples include Hilary Swank and Chad Lowe, Marlee Matlin and William Hurt, Jane Fonda and Roger Vadim, Halle Berry and Eric Benet, Julia Roberts and Benjamin Bratt and Helen Hunt and Hank Azaria.

I'm not sure I buy into this whole linkage idea, which implies that these guys, beset with jealousy, couldn't handle their gals' success. Turns out Chad had a whole secret drug thing going on and Hilary stood by him as long as she could cope; ditto for Halle's tolerance level for Eric's philandering. And why should Ryan be jealous of Reese's kudos success since he actually topped it that same Oscar night when his film — "Crash" — pulled off one of the biggest shockeroos in the history of the best picture race?

Yes, that's true, but Ryan didn't seem to enjoy himself at Vanity Fair's post-Oscars fete. "He sat by himself looking pretty resentful," a witness told Life & Style magazine.

Personally, I happen to think something else busted up Reese and Ryan: bad chemistry. They never seemed right for each other. She always struck me as a gung-ho, pancake-flipping momma who belongs to the PTA, St. John's Church Christmas decoration committee and the Eagle Scouts' recycling drive. By contrast, he seemed to be a foggy-headed slacker and loner, who the tabloids kept catching smoking pot in cars with rolled-up windows not too far away from where a befuddled Reese, tapping a foot, fumed, "Golly darn, where the heck is that boy?!"

"I think everyone has their own set of problems, and sometimes I feel I'm in the middle of the biggest challenge of my life just trying to maintain normalcy in a kind of crazy lifestyle," she has said in the past. "Many people worry so much about managing their careers, but rarely spend half that much energy managing their lives. I want to make my life, not just my job, the best it can be. The rest will work itself out."

"Marriage is hard," Reese once told Vanity Fair. "(It's) not about expecting someone to make you happy every day or to complete your life."

Join our forums discussion — CLICK HERE!

Photo: Ryan and Reese appeared disconnected as they arrived at the Oscars back in March.
(L.A. Times photo by Myung J. Chun)

MTV Awards: 'Kong's' revenge? 'Brokeback' kiss-off?

April 24, 2006 |  7:32 am


That poor, big, misunderstood ape didn't even get nominated for best picture at the Oscars, but "King Kong" came out swinging for the top prize at the MTV Movie Awards when nominations were announced today. He's got a good chance of winning, too, considering voters (viewers of MTV and MTV2) like butt-kicking actioners like "Gladiator" and all three "Lord of the Rings" installments. There's hope for "40-Year-Old Virgin" and "Wedding Crashers," too, though. Sometimes comedies get the last laugh — like "There's Something About Mary" did eight years ago.

Meantime, voters resolved that whole "Brokeback Mountain" vs. "Crash" thing by nominating neither of them for best pic. "Virgin" and "Crashers" lead with the most noms each: five.

"Brokeback's" poor Heath Ledger got overlooked in the best performance category despite the fact that his Significant Other got a hug — very curious sinceJake Gyllenhaal had been demoted to the supporting race at other award shows. Recent Oscar champ Philip Seymour Hoffman ("Capote") got snubbed, too, but not his female counterpart. Reese Witherspoon ("Walk the Line") squares off against Joaquin Phoenix just like the Cash couple did on screen, but not for a dance or a duet.

Curiously, Paris Hilton ("House of Wax") could go from Razzie to redemption at the MTV kudos. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are nommed for both best fight and best kiss, but they can kiss that latter kudo goodbye considering they're up against the "Brokeback" boys.

The kudocast airs on MTV on June 6 at 9 p.m. eastern.

"Batman Begins"
"The 40-Year Old Virgin"
"King Kong"
"Sin City"
"Wedding Crashers"

Steve Carell, "The 40-Year Old Virgin"
Jake Gyllenhaal, "Brokeback Mountain"
Terrence Howard, "Hustle & Flow"
Rachel McAdams, "Red Eye"
Joaquin Phoenix, "Walk the Line"
Reese Witherspoon, "Walk the Line"

Steve Carell, "The 40-Year Old Virgin"
Tyler Perry, "Madea's Family Reunion"
Adam Sandler, "The Longest Yard"
Vince Vaughn, "Wedding Crashers"
Owen Wilson, "Wedding Crashers"

Click "Continue Reading" link below to see more nominees!

Photo: "Brokeback" has a lip lock on the best kiss award, of course.
(Focus Features)

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Reese is the new Julia

March 12, 2006 |  9:28 pm

On Oscar night, Reese Witherspoon emerged as more than just a best actress champ. To America's female filmgoers, she became the new Julia Roberts — a beauteous superstar simultaneously revered as a Hollywood goddess and beloved as just one of the girls.

Julia Roberts Reese Witherspoon

Reese's brilliant Oscar speech cinched her new lead role. It was a miraculous, last-minute rally. Reese's thank-yous at the SAG Awards and the Golden Globes had been boring bombs. When Reese's name was announced as Oscar winner, many journalists backstage winced, fearful that the girl from Tennessee would give them more dull homespun banalities not worth quoting.

Instead, when she opened her mouth at the podium, a superstar was born.

Reese gave another Oscar-worthy performance thanking her parents for their support: "It didn't matter if I was just making my bed or making a movie. They never hesitated to say how proud they were of me and that means so very much to a child." Her verbal twang gave the words southern comfort.

But her next words buzzed with dramatic intensity when Reese recalled how June Carter Cash used to say, perkily, "I'm just trying to matter!" — then Reese added humbly: "I know what she means, you know. I'm just trying to matter and live a good life and make work that means something to somebody and you have all made me feel that I might have accomplished that tonight."

Bingo. Reese said just the right poignant things, winning over the hearts of TV viewers while moving on up to the Oscars pantheon. There she will reign as a special Oscar champ, not just another Charlize Theron or Helen Hunt. No, no. Reese did what Julia and Nicole Kidman did. She made female film fans bond with her in an extraordinary way. She now represents them. They identify with her just like Britney Spears, Jessica Simpson and J.Lo on the pop culture scene — with several key differences: Reese is no bimbo, she's smart and she can act.

Photos: Julia Roberts and Reese Witherspoon are superstars who come across as every girl's best friend.
(Universal Pictures / Twentieth Century Fox)

Continue reading »

Why I was wrong about best actress

March 9, 2006 | 10:01 am

When sizing up the Oscar chances of the star of "Walk the Line," I didn't take seriously enough the "below the line" factor.


"If just actors, writers and directors were voting, sure, Felicity Huffman would probably win," a few Hollywood insiders told me as we dished the Felicity versus Reese Witherspoon matchup before the best actress envelope was opened. "But those below-the-line guys will never vote for Felicity!" they warned.

Those below-the-line guys are the film editors, cinematographers, visual effects wizards, and sound mixers who comprise a big chunk of the academy electorate and tend to be straight chaps who presumably prefer to embrace babes in the best actress race over a 43-year-old star deglamming herself to portray a misfit guy in a dress.

It's harsh to accuse them of putting prettiness above performance, but I'm quoting experts who track the Oscars professionally and they really believe in the Babe Factor I've written about here in the past.

It's obviously true that most recent winners have had youthful beauty in common: Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman, Julia Roberts, Gwyneth Paltrow, Hilary Swank and Halle Berry. Throughout this year's race I kept hearing from reputable sources that the "below the line" factor was the chief worry of Harvey Weinstein, distributor of "Transamerica."

I worried about it too. Women over age 40 rarely win, but when they do they tend to prevail for emotionally showy roles like Kathy Bates in "Misery." They dominate screen time like Jessica Tandy in "Driving Miss Daisy" or have a high cool factor within the industry like Susan Sarandon ("Dead Man Walking").

Felicity had all of that going for her plus the Last Movie Seen theory (Harvey shipped out the "Transamerica" screener last to 10 academy branches — including "below the line" — so it'd be fresh in voters' minds) and she underwent a radical physical transformation like Charlize Theron ("Monster"), Nicole Kidman ("The Hours") and Hilary Swank ("Boys Don't Cry," "Million Dollar Baby"). By predicting Felicity would win for a new theatrical release, I thought all of that would trump Reese's supporting role — with no plastic cheekbones or noses, thank you very much — in a film that seemed like old news.

Besides, Felicity campaigned aggressively and gave a poignant acceptance speech at the Golden Globes. Meantime, Reese mostly stayed home with her kids and hubby Ryan Phillippe and bored us to tears while at the podium at the Globes and SAG. She didn't even bother to attend BAFTA where she won. However, Felicity, who wasn't even nominated, was there in the audience beaming winningly.

Whenever I voiced my best actress argument to many seasoned Oscarologists, I kept hearing, "You're forgetting the 'below the line' factor, Tom. It's bigger than you think."

Ah, well. I wanted to pick one Oscar long shot this year. Too bad I didn't stick with the one I ballyhooed so early in the derby — that "Crash" could win best picture. Next time when the "below the line" factor comes into play, I suppose I will have to walk the line.

Photo: At Oscars ceremony in 1991, Kathy Bates pulled off a best actress upset over Anjelica Huston ("The Grifters"), Meryl Streep ("Postcards from the Edge") and Julia Roberts ("Pretty Woman") for portraying an off-putting character who dominated screen time in "Misery."
(Columbia Pictures)

Reese's best performance ever

March 5, 2006 |  8:18 pm

Best actress champ Reese Witherspoon may have topped Hoffman's tribute to his mom with her salute to her whole family: "I'm so blessed to have my family here tonight. My mother and my father and I just want to say thank you so much for being proud of me. It didn't matter if I was just making my bed or making a movie. They never hesitated to say how proud they were of me and that means so very much to a child. So thank you, Mom and Dad. I want to say thank you to my husband and my two wonderful children. You should be going to bed! Thank you so much for loving me and supporting me. I want to say that my grandmother was one of the biggest inspirations of my life. She taught me how to be a real woman, to have strength and self-respect and to never give those things away and those were a lot of qualities I saw in June Carter. People used to ask June how she was doing and she'd say 'I'm just trying to matter!' I know what she means, you know. I'm just trying to matter and live a good life and make work that means something to somebody and you have all made me feel that I might have accomplished that tonight. Thank you all so much for this honor."

Harris poll: 'Crash' should win best pic

March 3, 2006 |  9:38 am

If the Oscars were decided like the People's Choice Awards used to be — by a formal polling of public opinion (now they're decided by Internet voting) — then we'd now know the winners.

A Harris Poll reveals Americans pick "Crash" for best picture, Joaquin Phoenix for best actor and Reese Witherspoon for best actress.

Only 9% of adults say they're more likely to watch the Oscar telecast because Jon Stewart is hosting; 7% say they're less likely to tune in and 84% claim that his presence makes no difference.



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