Speaking of studying celebrity career moves...

Reese Witherspoon is an interesting case. She's popular, not a bad actress, an Oscar winner. Yet the last few years she's eroded a lot of goodwill by making a string of bad movies. Even in this year's Water for Elephants, which wasn't bad, she was the weakest link. The biggest problem with her career these last couple years is her insistence on showing us how sexy she is. Problem: she's not sexy. (Lainey: or, maybe in the new Jennifer Aniston definition of sexy, she might be???)

Fortunately, Reese has signed on for her first serious/non-sexy role since Walk the Line. She'll be portraying the mother of a murdered child in Atom Egoyan's Devil's Knot, about the just-freed West Memphis 3. Egoyan is a very good filmmaker who's been flirting with mainstream success--he's a critical darling already--and hopefully this will offset the incoming damage of This Means War, which looks awful. (Do you buy two men would not fighting to the death over her?)

Handling the post-Oscar period is tough. If you cash in, as Reese has done, you can lose public affection by making too many crap movies, but if you keep making more Oscar bait, you risk people rolling their eyes at your Try (see also: Hilary Swank). I don't think there is a "right' way to do this, but Reese has definitely gone more wrong than right. Now it's about course correction and seeing if she can shake the stigma of too many sh*tty movies. I think she can. Reese is a lot of sugar…but she’s also really scrappy. (Lainey: scrappy enough to go head to head with Julia Roberts. I would LOVE to see that go down.)

Attached - Reese with husband Jim Toth this weekend.