Reese Witherspoon has been a very popular name in the cinema industry and has continued to thrive over the decades with her varied roles. Her creative genius and acting skills have been validated by an Academy Award, two Golden Globes, a BAFTA, a SAG and an Emmy. known for her filmography in both movies and TV shows, Witherspoon made her debut as a teenager in the 1991 film The Man in the Moon.
She caught public attention with her role in the 1996 film, Fear before surprising the audience members with her breakthrough performance as the sweet and demure Annette in the dark teen film Cruel Intentions. However, Witherspoon became a sensation with her iconic role as Elle Woods in Legally Blonde, with her distinct fur coats, glittery outfits and scathing observations, before foraying into a multitude of other films across various genres.
Witherspoon won her first-ever Academy Award for the 2005 German-American musical, Walk the Line where she starred alongside Joaquin Phoenix. She was nominated for an Academy Award later in 2015 for her brilliant and resilient performance in Wild. Witherspoon also established herself as a brilliant producer with her work in the HBOMax series, Big Little Lies.
She will be seen alongside Ashton Kutcher in the upcoming Netflix film Your Place or Mine which will see the actors as two best friends on each side of the coast who swap homes for a week. While the release date has not yet been announced, fans are excited to see the two rom-com heartthrobs team up together.
Ahead of the film’s release, celebrate her birthday by taking a look at the five best Reese Witherspoon films now streaming on Netflix:
The 5 best Reese Witherspoon titles to watch on Netflix
5. Cruel Intentions (Roger Kumble, 1999)
A story of lies, manipulation, deceit and ruthlessness, the film focuses on a pair of seductive step-siblings. Kathryn is cruel and vile and makes a bet with Sebastian who has to bed the headmaster’s virgin daughter, Annette, who wants to save herself for marriage. Kathryn bribes him with promises of sex and other mind games while trying to fulfil her mission of exacting revenge for her heartbreak.
Scandalous, ruthless and honestly heartbreaking, the film falls on the bandwagon of typical 1990s teen movies, but with a twist. The wicked intentions of the siblings, especially Kathryn come to an end in the climax. Witherspoon plays the virginal Annette in this glossier and more titillating version of Dangerous Liaisons.
4. Just Like Heaven (Mark Waters, 2005)
Adapted from Marc Levy’s famous French novel If Only It Were True, this rom-com is a romantic version of The Sixth Sense and explores the subtle and mysterious bond between the body and one’s consciousness. Starring Mark Ruffalo and Reese Witherspoon, the couple here are separated by mortality and the central conflict is death. Witherspoon plays the ghost who haunts the apartment Ruffalo moves into.
Slowly, he develops an unhinged attraction for her, transcending the boundaries set by mortality, and soon finds that she is in a coma. After a few other chaotic turbulences and momentary amnesia, they unite. Their collective powerful performances have left an indelible impact on Netflix viewers recently who have streamed the film for quite a long time.
3. Legally Blonde (Robert Luketic, 2001)
Reese Witherspoon became a defining pop-cultural sensation as the flamboyant and funny Elle Woods. Born into luxury, the affluent Elle undergoes a blonde makeover after getting dumped and follows him into Harvard Law School. As she realises the various hardships of reality, she battles academic pressure, inherent sexism and other problems while trying to make a better place for all the fellow Elle Woods’.
While the ‘dumb blonde’ jokes might rile one up due to the overt misogynistic tones, her battle helps emphasise the subversive nature of the film. Witherspoon inarguably contributes to transforming the typical Hollywood stereotype of a sorority girl into someone who is both witty and pretty. Elle Woods is an iconic figure with her legendary fashion choices and dialogues. Bonus tip, Robert De Niro is in love with this film (and Witherspoon)!
2. Wild (Jean-Marc Vallee, 2014)
Starring Witherspoon and Laura Dern, this biographical adventure film is based on Cheryl Strayed’s 2012 real-life memoir, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail and tells the true and daunting story of Strayed’s indomitable spirit to overcome obstacles and complete the hike. This film is about an inward journey towards healing, self-discovery and subsequent triumphs.
Dern stars as Cheryl’s mother while Witherspoon plays the role of Strayed. Both the actresses had received Academy Award nominations for their stupendous performances. Witherspoon as Strayed, in particular, presents a moving and honest portrait of herself as she embarks on this relentless, intense and audacious odyssey that reeks of love, family, grief, perseverance and survival. She even said, “By far, this is the hardest movie I’ve ever made in my life.”
1. American Psycho (Mary Harron, 2000)
This cult-favourite film is an adaptation of Bert Easton Ellis’ 1991 novel and sees Christian Bale deliver a phenomenal performance as the psychotic billionaire Patrick Bateman whose twisted sexual fetishes and bizarre lust for blood is in direct contrast with his apparent facade of being a graceful gentleman. The film focuses on Bateman’s hedonistic indulgences that send him down a rabbit hole of mania, madness and chaos.
Also starring Chloe Sevigny, Willem Defoe, Jared Leto and Reese Witherspoon, Bale’s brilliant performance is complemented by Witherspoon as the rich fiancee, Evelyn. In the iconic dinner scene, Bateman lets Evelyn know of his “homicidal tendencies”, and draws a disturbing diagram of a woman being killed by a chainsaw. However, Evelyn is too busy keeping up appearances to notice his “erratic behaviour”. It is one of the most iconic scenes in the film that blends horror with comedy and also teaches one to never break up with Witherspoon in public!