Magazine article Variety

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Magazine article Variety

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Article excerpt

WITH THE RISING buzz about female superheroes, let's praise the plain old Hollywood heroics of Reese Witherspoon, who's being honored Oct. 30 by the American Cinematheque. The brainy blonde was ahead of the gender equality curve, founding her own movie company, Pacific Standard, and developing female-driven projects with partner Bruna Papandrea. Given the New Orleans native's TVpe-A personality, it's no surprise that her company's first two films, "Wild" (in which she starred) and "Gone Girl," earned three Oscar nominations - with Witherspoon nabbing one for actress.

With these two films, Witherspoon, an avid reader, solidified the bridge between chick lit and chick films that had already been established by YA super-hits "The Twilight Saga" and "The Hunger Games." And, like the heroines in these post-feminist movies, Witherspoon wasn't going to go all damsel-in-distress: if there weren't enough challenging female roles, she would build them herself.

It's an action that would please TVacy Flick, the overachiever stereotype of a future D.C. player in Alexander Payne's 1999 classic, "Election." In this literate, dark comedy about the rough road to student body president as political metaphor, Witherspoon planted the seeds for a thoroughbred career: intelligent, literate, beautiful - and not afraid to bust balls.

Another Witherspoon touchstone was the beloved "Legally Blonde" movies. Her Elle Woods is underestimated by almost everyone she encounters - the fools can't see beyond her curtain of golden locks and girly wardrobe. But Woods owns her beauty and fashion obsession. Woods turns that combination into something powerful and takes it all the way to court. Dumb blonde? Hardly! RIP stereotype.

She could also "Walk the Line" in a different direction. Preppy mama Witherspoon and method monster Joaquin Phoenix make a moving duet as June Carter Cash and Johnny Cash. …

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