In a gushing letter to the film's star Naomi Watts, Witherspoon called "The Impossible" -- a story which details the true tale of one family's survival during 2004's tsunami -- "one of the best films I have ever seen in my life." She also praised Watts for her "brutal physical performance" as Maria, a mother charged with protecting a son under unfathomable circumstances. Her campaigning may have done the trick, as Watts received a Best Actress nomination on Thursday morning.
Witherspoon wrote: "Not since I saw Meryl Streep’s performance in 'Sophie’s Choice' have I been so moved by an actress’s performance. It also reminded me of Sally Field’s 'Norma Rae' as well. Such strength and absolute vulnerability in the same performance. A mother who is determined to teach her child what it means to be a good person even when facing her own mortality. You showed every side of Maria’s story.
Watts's costar Ewan McGregor is also drawing praise from A-list fans. Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt held a private screening of the film. While introducing the movie, Jolie said this about McGregor: "I have known you for years and you are one of my favorite actors and I’ve always loved to watch you, but I watched this and I didn’t recognize you … To say it is one of the best performances of the year really doesn’t give it credit, because it doesn’t feel like a performance. It’s from such an honest place and so deeply emotional. You rarely see this emotion from a man on screen and I called him later to tell him how much he made me cry. I was crying, and I looked over at Brad [Pitt] and he was crying. It’s just really, really powerful. As an actor, I’m in awe."
The film isn't without controversy. Some were unhappy with the casting. In the film, Watts and McGregor play an English couple with three children, but in real life, the family is from Spain. Additionally, some critics have asked how a movie about a natural disaster that killed hundreds of thousands of people can dare to be inspirational.
Criticism aside, the film's fans far outnumber its detractors. "The Impossible" has earned strong marks from USA Today, Entertainment Weekly, and the Los Angeles Times. And don’t forget Reese Witherspoon and Angelina Jolie.
- Arts & Entertainment