With Academy Awards voting underway, EW’s Prize Fighter is kicking off the “Consider This” series, asking folks with Oscar histories of their own to share their personal favorites of the year. Reese Witherspoon, who won the best actress award in 2006 for Walk the Line, shared with us a letter she wrote to Naomi Watts about her role in The Impossible, playing Maria Belon, a mother of three fighting for her family’s survival in the 2004 tsunami:
I know we don’t know each other well. I hope it’s ok that I am reaching out to you, because I simply could not contain my enthusiasm about your performance in The Impossible.
Wow. Just wow. I was blown away by the film. The story of survival and the incredible images of the tsunami and the performances of the entire cast were astounding. By far, one of the best films I have ever seen in my life.
I could not speak for 24 hours after seeing the film. It was more than a movie. It was a mediation on life and family and humanity. It was fortifying.
But the life-breath of the film is you.
Your brutal physical performance, the ferocity of your mothering spirit and the soul touching moments where you hold on to life with every part of your being were incredible.
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.
If I have anything to do with it (and I will literally tap dance on Sunset Boulevard for you!), you will be holding every beautiful statue that exists by the end of February.
But more importantly, you have created a performance that will stand the test of time.
Congratulations. And thank you sharing your heart and soul so openly.
The Impossible, based on a true family’s story and directed by Juan Antonio Bayona, opens on Dec. 21.
So far, Watts has been nominated as best actress by the Screen Actors Guild Awards, the Golden Globes, and the Broadcast Film Critics Association.