Jennifer Aniston in 'The Bounty Hunter': Could she ever pull off a Sandra Bullock at the Oscars?

Jennifer-Aniston_240.jpg Image Credit: Janet Mayer/PR PhotosThe box-office headline today is all about 3-D competition at the multiplex this past weekend, as How To Train Your Dragon stomped in on ground previously held by Alice in Wonderland. But my eye is on the news, delivered with much less fanfare, that ticket sales for the romantic comedy The Bounty Hunter, starring Jennifer Aniston and Gerard Butler, dropped less precipitously than other movies of its ilk tend to do in second-week release. And since that ilk is rom-com crapola, and since I have yet to feel even one degree of romantic or comedic heat radiating off of the emotionally insulated Mr. Butler in any of his rom or com endeavors, I credit Ms. Aniston, the femme half of the duo, for bringing home the bacon.

Truth is, I’m fascinated with Aniston these days. (Tabloids serve up so much BS about her that I’ve got to restrain myself from calling her “Jen,” as if she’s my friend and we could feel even closer if I bought her favorite brand of handbag.) I’m impressed with Aniston’s ambition, her industriousness; I’m interested in her willingness to play the game, first by the rules of fame that were handed to her by the TV success of Friends and later by the rules of celebrity that were thrust on her by her marriage and subsequent divorce from fellow actor Brad Pitt. Most of all, I’m intrigued to see what will happen if and when Aniston clearly defines a new place for herself, both professionally and personally.

On screen, I’m looking forward to her breakthrough moment — her Blind Side vision — when the actor matches up with a role that unshackles her from the type she’s been cast in for so long, that of the perky gal with great hair and a not-so-great track record in relationships. (Remember Sandra Bullock in those roles, too? They’re sooo one Oscar ago.)  Myself, I have a hunch that Anison might find her liberation quicker on a really smart TV series than another light feature-film project, following the lead of Julianna Margulies in The Good Wife or Glenn Close in Damages, even though IMDb factoids suggest that Aniston is currently toting a basket full of movie projects in the works. (Er, at the moment Aniston is shooting Just Go With It with Adam Sandler, a rom-com in which she plays his fake soon-to-be-ex-wife so he can pursue Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Brooklyn Decker as his sexy love interest. This is not quite the path I’ve envisioned for our Friend; perhaps I’ll be proved wrong….)

Off screen, meanwhile, I look forward to reading fewer-to-no-more fluffy lifestyle reports about Ms. Aniston and her life as a single, child-free woman over the age of 40, who just happens to have once been married to a famous man who now co-pilots an ark’s worth of children with a different famous woman. I’d like think that Aniston would be happy to grant me my wish — that she’s no less sick of playing the gossip-page role of Dating Jen, “linked” with this co-star or that. (Vince Vaughn, we hardly knew ye!) But if that’s the case, the quicker she can shut down the is-she-or-isn’t-she-canoodling-with-Gerard-Butler line of promotional hooey, the better. And to do that, she’s got to decide there’ll be no more faux-promotional photo shoots, the kind where Aniston and Butler pose as if they’re a steamy Taylor and Burton. Or Jolie and Pitt.

In the end, it’d be worth it for her, don’t you think? Who wouldn’t cheer on Jennifer Aniston the appealing actor (think of her charming Oscar acceptance speech!) as well as the attractive woman who’s got every right to a fulfilling private life that’s nobody’s business but her own?

Comments (331 total) Add your comment
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  • KC

    Rachel forever.

    • bigfan

      Thank you KC. First and succinct. NEVER>

    • Celia

      This is my exact reaction.
      Who knew EW could be so funny?!

      • mishka

        Either they’re making fun of her, either they got paid by Aniston’s publicist to write this joke.

    • del

      I agree. We already have one Sandra Bullock. Why would be need another?

    • GOB

      April Fools’ Day isn’t until Thursday. They must have posted this early.

    • underfor5

      Whoa whoa whoa… Hold your horses, ladies and gentlemen. You forget that there’s been Oscar buzz in the past for Jennifer. She picked up a few minor league noms for The Good Girl, including an ISA. And while Bullock had a few ensemble awards and Helen Hunt in her day had some TV awards, neither of them could boast any film awards of their own.
      So is it impossible? Only if she keeps within her box. If she takes a different role that requires a sizeable change to her appearance (Bullock, Theron, Kidman…) and that either has the critics or box office jumping – she’s in.

    • jake

      I cheered for her when she won her much deserved emmy for Friends. She got oscar buzz for the good girl and it’s just a matter of time before she finds that role that will showcase her.

  • bruno

    who WOULDN’T cheer her? uhhh, ME. you’re “impressed with her ambition”…? well, that’s one way of summing up a film “carreer” that’s involved doing any and every crapfest romantic comedy project possible. one of them’s gotta stick, right jen?! aniston’s become laughable as of late, and NO, not in a good on screen funny way. her tabloid drival is more of a carreer highlight than anythign she’s done on screen, save for that grocery store thing with gyllenhal that was still just okay. oscar? i’ll throwe up in my mouth and die.

    • naynay

      I totally agree with you. I cannot stand her acting, she is the same person in every one of her movies.

      • davey


      • Sarah O

        Absolutely! The one time she tried to be a “bad girl” was Derailed with Clive Owen. He tried valiantly, but she just isn’t enough of a heavyweight. I’m surprised by Lisa Schwartzbaum! If Aniston wanted to have a normal dating life, she would stop dating famous men, but that might involve a far fewer magazine covers and we might actually stop feeling sorry for her — FINALLY!

      • esquirrel

        you are a correcto, naynay. and her hair, it never changes for any movie. ever.

      • toranta

        Not True… Rent the Good Girl. She is amazing.

      • dee

        I agree. What is it about her that she can do no wrong with magazines and the press. Glad to see someone lives such a perfect life. Wake up, no such thing. Same look, same everything…

      • MichaEL

        How could you possibly compare her to Sandra B? Say what you will about S’s film choices before Blind Side. Besides Crash, most of her films have been light, unchallenging fare. The difference between SB and JA is that SB is INFINITELY more likeable than Jennifer Aniston and a much better actress.

    • M

      Honestly, if I never saw another Jennifer Aniston movie again, it would be too soon. Same goes for reading about her personal life.

      • valeskas

        Don’t watch it.

    • Anna

      Agreed. You need more than a one note performance and a string of rom/coms to get an Oscar.

      • Molly


        See: Sandra Bullock.

      • SLB

        Exactly. One note Jen? Same character different movie. Never happen.

    • ki

      Learn to spell before you insult people .

    • superso

      couldn’t have said it better myself. and like the first commenter said, rachel forever.

  • Rahul

    To have a shot at even being considered for more dramatic roles, Aniston needs to get into an ensemble indie cast like Bullock did with ‘Crash’.

    • Lauren

      Um Hi, The Good Girl? Excellent indie moment for Aniston.

      • Dave

        The Good Girl WAS good. Then she wasted the goodwill from it by going right back into more banal romcoms.

      • Momo

        She was good in “The Good Girl,” but I didn’t think great (I do concede that it was an excellent movie, though). It was mostly a role where people went, “Wow, she’s not acting the same way as she normally does!” But it wasn’t a stand out performance. I think Sandra Bullock, even in her Rom Coms, has shown more range as an actor than Jennifer Aniston.

      • cas

        I really hated that movie. I just cringed the whole way through it. And I liked her in Friends, but I haven’t liked her in anything since. She can’t seem to play anything but sad, desperate characters who make women look weak and pathetic. And that includes her starring role in the tabloids.

      • Um, hi, The Good Girl was in, what, 2002?

      • Stew

        No one has mentioned “She’s the One”, granted the movie was Ed Burns’ Brothers McMullen do-over with some professionals, but still, she rose above the other piffle she’s been in with that movie.

    • Advices to “Rachel Greene” if she wants a breakout role in movies

      1/ Drop that hairdo.Go back to your natural color, shorten your hair or whatever but this permanent Loreal advertising has to go. I don’t recall any actress being nominated or receiving any accolade because of her golden locks and her tan. (Even Mariah drop her diva look for “Precious”).
      2/ Sign for supporting roles. You were the star on Friends, you still the star of Friends. I became a fan of Sandra Bullock when she got her breakthrough with “Speed”, I never cared about her rom-coms but she blew me away in “Crash” with her supporting role as a haughty wife.
      3/ Act your age. Jennifer you’re hot but you’re 41. It’s about time for you to sign for mother, aunt or godmother roles.
      4/ Avoid playing goody two-shoes roles because they’re two close of your persona. Don’t worry, we know you’re good and Angelina is mean, we know. Let us move on!
      So, as Sue Sylvester would say: “Switch it up a bit, Rach…Jennifer!”

      • anon

        lol, what a great list! i would add 5. stop dating your costars, or at least, stop hanging all over them during all the promo junkets. it reeks of desperation, my dear.

      • Trish

        She’ll be back on TV within 5 years either in a comedy, drama or dramedy.

  • Alex

    The problem is she plays the same role movie after movie after movie. She is Rachel..period, she has no range. All of her movies are predictable (as most romantic comedies are anyway). Aniston lacks the likability that Sandra Bullock has.

    • Ambient Lite

      Though I agree that we only see one character in everything she does, I don’t agree that she lacks likability – I think she’s fun in a familiar way, and that’s attractive to moviegoers, including myself. I think she was great in The Break-Up, Something About Polly, and Friends with Money. Couldn’t really imagine someone else in those roles. I also happen to think she IS a good actress. Maybe she successfully compensates for her lack of range by being the familiar ‘Friend’ we look forward to seeing.

      • Ally

        I absolutely love her, just wish she would get in some really good movies and stop doing ones like Management & Love Happens

      • Ana

        To me, it’s not that she lacks likability. It’s that she lacks a presence that works well on the big screen. There are very few actors that can do well in both tv and the movies. Try as she might, Jennifer Aniston is not one of them. She’d be better off trying to find another good television show.

      • brody

        I loved Friends, but I don’t think Jennifer Aniston has been likable in a long, long time.

    • dame

      You said it mister!

      • shannon


    • silkrose

      Derailed wasn’t a rom com and it was an exciting film. She did well…go watch it!

      • tiebaojin

        Derailed was an exciting film because of Clive Owen – Not Aniston.

      • naynay

        Thankyou tiebaojin, anyone could have played Aniston’s part. Clive Owen was the ONLY reason I watched that movie.

      • Tomm

        Best part of ‘Derailed’ is her in the hail of bullets. She got to be down and dirty for once.

    • Ambient Lite

      Actually, according to imdb she just finished up work on a movie called “The Goree Girls” which is described as ‘A 1940s-set musical centered around a group of incarcerated female country-and-western performers.’ and is categorized as a Drama/Musical.
      It’s also directed by Michael Sucsy, who was nominated for Grey Gardens.
      Sounds like a departure from the norm to me!

      • cara

        Apparently the script is beign re-written and word on the street is Aniston can’t get financial backing for it. This sounds like a Lifetime movie anyway. so she needs to head back to TV, that is where her strength lies.

      • Tomm

        Maybe the Disney Channel can pick it up as a TV movie.

    • andrea

      I agree-she is not likable.

      • naynay

        She has this air about her that she is better than everyone else. And I am so sick of hearing about Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie hurting her. Get OVER it!

      • alia

        Totally agreed, naynay!

    • Alli

      Sandra Bullock has always had a lot more depth. Even Aniston in The Good Girl wasn’t that impressive. She was supposed to be a loser in that movie, but she still looked like Rachel.

      • Tomm

        Yeah, in ‘Good Girl’ she was putting lotion on her legs and other beauty routines that a poor woman wouldn’t do. So, she wasn’t believable in it.

    • alan from canada

      agreed. She acts EXACTLY the same in every thing she does. In other words…she can’t act. She only has the likability thing going for her.

  • Beverly

    You are so off on this comparison. Anniston is a one trick pony. Bullock has been in several good dramas such as “Murder by the Book”.

    No … Anniston can’t pull a Bullock. What’s more is that I don’t think she’s even cares about making a quality movie.

    • bruno

      amen beverly!
      are you on crack schwarzbaum?!

      • bandit

        To think Lisa S. is the movie reviewer for LS!! Judging by ALL the SUPER-BAD reviews for The Bounty Hunter, think Lisa S. is the ONLY critic in the UNIVERSE to feel she has Oscar potential. Boo, EW, off with Lisa S’s head!

    • as

      Surprising the criticism Sandra Bullock is taking here. She’s a Hollywood business presence with her own production company. At the very least many of the romantic comedies she’s been in are cute/funny/charming. That can’t be said about ‘Jen’s’ films. They’re lousy and in each and every one of them the film is promoted by a fake relationship for the tabloids.

    • nezzo

      MURDER BY THE BOOK??? lol you Sandra B. locos are locos.
      It’s Murder by Numbers.

  • Jburke

    I worked on the set of the Bounty Hunter for about 3 weeks, and I heard a rumor that Aniston is booked solid with movies for the next 10 years. Sheesh. She couldn’t have been nicer though. Very different from the portrayal we get in the tabloids. And she and Butler were certainly NOT a thing.

    • EJ

      There is no such thing as being booked for the next ten years.

      • KC

        You may think that, but she actually has TEN (10) movies booked

  • UGH

    Aniston should give it up and just return to television.
    If she wants to stretch, shave that head. Quit having the gimmick of your hairdo doing the acting for you.

    • Tomm

      If she got messy as Cherize Theron did for ‘Monster’, than I can see her as a serious actress. For now, she is selling beauty products to 40something women to ‘look young and get that guy’.

  • Nina

    No, because her personal life is infinitely more interesting than her professional life. At this point, she knows it. Which is why she’ll continue to star in awful rom coms and milk real life “relationships” with her male co-stars.

  • Angie

    She plays the same role, over and over again. And when she tries to do something different, she has this pained look that is her idea of “drama”. I agree with the TV bit, though, as long as it’s not something as awful as cougartown.

  • Jess

    Obviously you guys didn’t see her kill it in “the good girl”. Check that movie out and you’ll see her range and potential

    • petuniafromhell

      But the Good Girl was years ago…she needs to do more work like that least a indie, or small movie every year and a half..

      • Jess

        I agree – just trying to point out that she’s done it in the past and has the potential. It’s there unlike what some of these others are saying.

      • shannon

        That was 2002. What has she done that have given you the idea that she is nothing more than a hair do? If she wants to be taken seriously she should do something…oh..SERIOUS.She is getting her money and people are interested in her personal life for some reason. She is no Sandra Bullock.

    • davey

      An accent does not necessarily give an actress range. And it did not give her range when she tried one in The Good Girl. Her supporting cast was what made that film.

    • T.

      I disagree. In the Good Girl she was just being Rachel Green being sad, with a ridiculous fake accent.

      • andrea

        So true!

    • joy

      Everyone keeps mentioning The Good Girl as her acting range. Nope, don’t see it, I saw Jennifer Aniston depressed and on meds in that movie, like it as “see, this what despair looks like” and cue to her long face.

    • del

      I thought the Good Girl showed potential, but then she never lived up to it.

    • alia

      Are you kidding? The Good Girl was HORRIBLE! One of the worst movies I have ever seen! And she was totally unlikable in it.

      • D’s Advocate

        Watch more movies.

  • Kevin

    Actually she was awesome in The Good Girl and played against type in that role. She could have received nominations for this part.

    • Ceballos

      I saw “The Good Girl” and it was definitely a step in the right direction for Aniston. Unfortunately, she apparently decided to completely abandon that path. (Except maybe for “Friends with Money” which I haven’t seen.)

      However, I’m not really sure if she was actually awesome in “The Good Girl” or if we’re just grading her on a curve. Like, were we impressed because she was actually great or because Aniston shocked us by actually showing some range?

      It’d be nice to have more varied roles to use for comparisons’ sake, but the most frustrating thinig about Aniston recently is that she’s insisted on making the same type of crappy movie over and over again.

      • Elaine

        Isn’t that how Bullock won the Oscar, by being graded on a curve?

      • Ceballos

        Absolutely. Doesn’t make it right.

      • deborah

        I liked the Good Girl, but I think Jennifer blew that opportunity to stretch in a dramatic direction by taking repeated stupid romcoms after that. She needs to get back on tv where her skills don’t hinder her.

  • Ceballos

    I actually think it’s pretty likely that Aniston could pick up an Oscar nomination one day.

    Unfortunately, my belief has less to do with her talent and more to do with Hollywood’s apparent over-eagerness for rewarding its biggest starlets with Oscar nominations when they dip their toe outside their comfort zone. (If you think about it, it’s a lot harder to come up with big-name actresses who don’t have Oscar noms than it is big-name actors.)

    If Aniston ever decided to stop making terrible romantic comedies and actually challenged herself (or at the very least change the way she looks), I believe the Academy would trip over itself to nominate her.

    • coco

      Agree 100%.
      She will get an Oscar nom for cutting her hair or dying it black, it is a shame but as you said. Hollywood can’t wait to milk a JAniston’s Oscar moment (what will she wear, who will be her date, is brangelina going… )and all the “important” stuff. She is Rachel in every single movie. I will like to add to this topic Cameron Diaz.

      • Jen

        Yuck, now there’s someone whose fame I have never understood. It seems her roles are diminishing as she ages. Amazing how Jennifer Aniston is in her 40’s but looks like she’s in her 30’s while Cameron Diaz looks like she’s pushing 45.

    • Dan JD

      So true. Aniston’s very likely to eventually get what I like to think of as the Julia Roberts Oscar — the “you’re not an Oscar-worthy actress but golly-gee you’ve got buzz” award.

  • petuniafromhell

    I think she needs to mix it up a bit and stop playing the same characters. A rom com here and there is good but she needs to add quality work..or if she is doing a rom com, maybe she should work with Nancy Meyers or Nora Ephron.

  • jurinac

    Pre-Oscar, Sandra Bullock had starred in any number of box office and/or critical successes. She was and is rightly credited with the artistic/commercial success of SPEED and WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING and a host of others, though of course there have been clinkers along the way.

    Jennifer Aniston? I seem to remember some good reviews for THE GOOD GIRL and THE OBJECT OF MY AFFECTION. Neither was a hit by any means, however, and her box office smashes have been things like BRUCE ALMIGHTY, in which she’s been along for the ride.

    So yes, I think any excitement about J.A. beyond “Isn’t she adorable?” is premature, to say the least.

  • Johnification

    I was really impressed with what she did in “The Good Girl” several years ago, and was kind of hoping that that film was the breakout that we’re all talking about here (odd how even the author seems to have forgotten about it). Here’s hoping there’s a second chance out there for her.

    • Anne

      I love Aniston and do think she has it in her to find a great role and break out, but I agree with others that the comparison to Bullock isn’t quite right. I think Bullock is a much better actress to start with, certainly a better dramatic actress, and thus has the range to pull off roles like what she had in Crash and The Blind Side. Plus, she’s stepped out of the rom com world several time, in these cases, as well as in Infamous, 28 Days, etc. AND, she wasn’t tethered to an iconic character that everyone associated her with, the way Aniston is with Rachel. As adorable as Aniston can be, she hasn’t really shown much range, nor the desire to step out of her usual comfort zone. That said, it doesn’t mean that it can’t happen, and I agree that the best chance for that happening is on TV.

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