MTV announced today that Reese Witherspoon would receive this year’s Generation Award at the MTV Movie Awards, which will air Sunday June 5th. Past winners of the MTV Generation Award include Mike Myers, Sandra Bullock and Tom Cruise. The MTV Movie Awards will air live from Los Angeles and will be hosted by Saturday Night Live star Jason Sudeikis.
MTV did well to honor Reese Witherspoon who in her astounding 20 year career on the big screen has cut a unique path through indie movies, mainstream blockbusters and won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role as June Carter Cash in the Johnny Cash biopic Walk the Line.
Here are my five favorite Reese Witherspoon performances.
1. Elle Woods in Legally Blonde
Guys aren’t supposed to be fans of Legally Blonde but me; I cannot resist the candy colored girl power comedy. Legally Blonde is arguably the happiest movie ever made. Watch Legally Blonde in a bad mood and you will be smiling in less than 10 minutes. Reese Witherspoon’s plucky Elle Woods may not make the best feminist hero, chasing a man across the country, obsessed with clothes and shopping, but her triumph in the end is pure bliss.
2. Tracy Flick in Election
Okay, so Reese Witherspoon as Tracy Flick is probably everyone’s favorite Reese Witherspoon performance. It’s by far her most critically acclaimed, even beyond her Academy Award winning role in Walk the Line. Putting aside the admitted typicality of my choice, Reese Witherspoon is remarkable in the role of the scheming but ultimately innocent Tracy overcoming an obtuse and off-putting performance by Matthew Broderick and stealing a movie that was supposed to be a comeback for the former Ferris Bueller.
3. Ivy Miller in Overnight Delivery
Ha! How many of you had this one your list? And no, Overnight Delivery did not make this list because Witherspoon plays a stripper in the film. Overnight Delivery has long been a guilty pleasure for me. The comedy was designed as an MTV style teen appeal road trip movie and while that is generally what it ended up being, the chemistry between Reese Witherspoon and Paul Rudd found something that was not in the generic script. Witherspoon especially brings bite and wit to Ivy while inspiring Rudd to let loose the zanier aspects of his personality that would later lead him to success in Anchorman and I Love You Man.
4. Lisa in How Do You Know
Sticking with the Witherspoon-Rudd theme it was truly a pleasure to see the duo reunite in the James L. Brooks romantic comedy How Do You Know. Yes, How Do You Know is a slightly flabby romance that needed a much less generic title and a much tighter edit but again the chemistry between Witherspoon and Rudd carried the day.
5. Marlena Rosenbluth in Water for Elephants
One of the underrated gems of 2011, Water for Elephants has Reese Witherspoon competing with the glow of Twilight star Robert Pattinson, the screen chewing of Oscar winner Christoph Walz and a scene stealing elephant and she still comes out looking radiant. It’s all in the eyes for Witherspoon in Water for Elephants. Her eyes dance and shimmer and when they fall upon Pattinson’s handsome amateur veterinarian they come to brilliant brightly to life. People who give Water for Elephants a chance when it arrives on DVD later this year will discover an unexpectedly moving and entertaining drama as well as one of Reese Witherspoon‘s finest performances.