Reese Witherspoon’s ‘Wild’ Premieres to Oscar Buzz in Telluride

Wild Reese Witherspoon

TELLURIDE, Colo. — Fox Searchlight’s world premiere of “Wild,” starring Reese Witherspoon, kicked off the 41st Telluride Film Festival on Friday, screening to a packed Chuck Jones theater audience that included Witherspoon, co-star Laura Dern, director Jean-Marc Vallee and surprise guest Oprah Winfrey.

“Wild,” based on the best-selling memoir, tells the true story of Cheryl Strayed, played by Witherspoon, and her hike across the 1100 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail.

The pre-screening buzz on the adventure drama was all about Witherspoon. It was deserved: she offers a tour de force performance that moves her solidly into the Oscar race in the best actress category, where she last won in 2006 for “Walk the Line.” But the film should compete in many other categories, including supporting actress for Dern, who plays Witherspoon’s mother.

SEE ALSO: Photos from Telluride Film Festival’s Opening Day

Vallee, who last directed “Dallas Buyers Club,” easily matches his work on the Oscar-winning drama and awards voters may respond similarly. Like “Dallas,” Vallee gets great performances across the board, even from actors with one or two lines. And, like the Matthew McConaughey-Jared Leto drama, he and his screenwriter (here, Nick Hornby) are able to transform an unsympathetic character into a hero.

As one industry vet said, “The man next to me was copiously sobbing. But you know what’s going to make this film a hit: women.” The moviegoer theorized that the character’s struggles will connect with women more than other survival tales like “All is Lost,” “127 Hours” and “Into the Wild,” and the book found an enthusiastic audience as the first selection when Winfrey rebooted her influential book club.

The film’s next big test: Toronto.

Also co-starring Gaby Hoffman, “Wild” hits theaters on Dec. 5.

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  1. Stergios says:

    Jean-Marc Vallée is a truly gifted filmmaker and it’s clear that he has brought the best out of Reese Witherspoon in “Wild”. She goes really against the type here and seems to be indeed intensely committed to her role and putting up possibly her best work to date. That being said, she’s definitely not the kind of actress that deserves a second Oscar nomination. Not in a world where an actress like Marion Cotillard gives the one legendary performance after another and still hasn’t scored a second Oscar nomination (?) The fact that she’s clearly really good in “Wild” isn’t enough to justify the hype she gets. Because let’s be honest, shall we, she is and always be an actress of indisputable talent but also indisputable obvious limitations that are strikingly evident even in her strongest screen work. Make no mistake, this is not at all some hating comment for Witherspoon. She’s talented and likable, that’s for sure, but she belongs to that long list of well known stars like Sandra Bullock and Halle Berry who, while having some undeniable acting virtues and screen magnetism, have also undeniable limitations in terms of acting. They’re not actresses like Marion Cotillard, Cate Blanchett, Kate Winslet and many more that have never won an Oscar like Isabelle Huppert, Lesley Manville, Jessica Chastain, Amy Adams, Samantha Morton, Emily Watson, just to name a few, all of them actresses of otherwordly talent in acting, tremendous technical skills, obviously limitless depth and an almost terrifying level of commitment to every role they so brilliantly portrays on screen or on stage. And that constant desire to defy every expectation of their audience, approach not even a single role as an Oscar vehicle and take risks that seem almost inconceivable. Well, those ladies deserve five Oscar nominations and wins each. Witherspoon is not even half of the actors they are.

  2. tlsnyder42 says:

    Why does this have to include R-rated content? Did CASABLANCA need R-rated content??? No!!! Did the Marx Brothers, Chaplin, Keaton, or Harold Lloyd need it? No!

    • Mark says:

      casablanca didn’t even have ONE exploding robot. Just a bunch of old people taking to each other. A lot. And it wasn’t even in color. Blech. Where’s Michael Bay when you need him?

    • David says:

      Because I spoke to Jesus and he said “that film shall have R rated content”

    • Ellie says:

      Life has R-rated content and some of us like a little realism in our films. I’m tired of everything being limited to PG-13 for the kiddies.

    • Charles says:

      A few f-bombs can result in an R-rating. I look forward to seeing the film.

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