A-List: Missing Out on the Oscar Bump

By Sean Collier

February 5, 2009

So, I'm thinking about becoming a rap star, Reese. What do you think?

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Jamie Foxx (Best Actor 2004, Ray)

From the moment Ray was released, Foxx seemed like a shoe-in for the Oscar. He racked up awards leading to Oscar night – among others, the Golden Globe, the SAG Award, and the BAFTA Award – and when his name was announced, exactly no one was surprised. Such a breakthrough year for the former In Living Color star seemed like a portent of things to come, but very little of note has happened for Foxx since. 2005 saw Foxx take on the rightfully forgotten action flick Stealth and the not-quite-what-it-could've-been Gulf War I drama Jarhead; 2006 included the unnecessary Miami Vice movie and Dreamgirls – and if anyone tells you that Dreamgirls was a good movie, you have my permission to laugh really, really hard at them. Another unremarkable Iraq drama, The Kingdom, followed. It took Foxx four years to pick a seemingly suitable follow-up to Ray – and that film, The Soloist, has been delayed right out of Oscar season. If I had to pick one performer on this list that probably won't regain their former stature, I'd regrettably pick Foxx.


Reese Witherspoon (Best Actress 2005, Walk the Line)

Reese stole an Oscar from the impossibly skilled hands of Felicity Huffman back in 2005. While she was certainly the best thing about Walk the Line, throwing an award at her felt a little bit premature; she's going to do some amazing things on screen, she just hasn't gotten around to them yet. And in the three years since claiming her title, she's...not gotten around to much of anything, actually. She didn't appear on screen for about two years after Walk the Line, coming back with the barely-noticed political thriller Rendition (a film I was pretty sure I had seen, until I realized that it's not the same movie as Lions for Lambs.) After that, a supporting role in the just-as-audience-starved fable Penelope, and (shudder) Four Christmases. Perhaps directors aren't willing to take a chance on Reese, despite her Oscar; as talented as she is, she still looks like Elle Woods to some. Within the next couple of years, she'll work on projects from James L. Brooks and Cameron Crowe; hopefully, one or both will be worth her (and our) time.

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