These days, it seems that very few actresses make dramatic or topical movies or even attempt to give good performances anymore. There are, of course, the always-offensive cohort of reality stars and B-List model/singer/actress combinations. But those sorts have always existed.

What has become an emerging trend, however, is a once-serious actress giving up meatier roles in favor of mass-produced, generic fare to be broadcast in HD at corporate Cineplexes around the world. Instead of the historical pieces and the psychological thrillers that they worked on in the beginning of their careers, they now specialize in animated features and nauseatingly formulaic romantic comedies. The occasional independent film they star in is relegated deep into the channels of the most comprehensive satellite TV packages, to be enjoyed by only the most voracious cinephiles.

What has caused this trend? Probably a multitude of factors too varied to list here. Perhaps it has to do with money – both the financial interests of the actresses as well as the studios who see middlebrow schlock in bright HD as a guaranteed ticket to the gravy train, as opposed to a slow moving «think piece.» Or perhaps there simply exists a dearth of substantive roles for female actresses in bigger budget films. If the stereotypical, mass-produced man is serious, contemplative and brooding, the formulaic female prototype is bubbly, erratic and boy crazy.

But regardless, this is a venerable trend. Who are the biggest offenders?

Kate Hudson

Goldie Hawn’s daughter burst onto the scene as Penny Lane in Cameron Crowe’s quasi-autobiographical Almost Famous. Hudson’s performance was spot-on as a groupie with a heart of gold, and she won a Golden Globe and received an Oscar nomination for the role. But it all went downhill from there, as Hudson has only seemed interested in starring in over-the-top, painfully formulaic romantic comedies ever since. She has been successful (see How to Lose A Guy in 10 Days or Bride Wars), but she has lost a lot of the indie cred that once made her stand apart in a world of bubbly blondes.

Reese Witherspoon
This young lady from Tennessee is undoubtedly a talented actress. Her early performances in movies like Election, Pleasantville and Cruel Intentions made viewers think that she would be a serious one, too. But, alas, she got caught in the alluring romantic comedy trap, producing steaming turd piles like Four Christmases, Sweet Home Alabama, and the entire Legally Blonde franchise. But there’s hope yet – Witherspoon still makes the occasional winner, like her Oscar-winning turn as June Carter Cash in 2005’s Walk the Line. Maybe the rom-coms just pay the bills.

Jennifer Aniston

Aniston first got famous on that ubiquitously syndicated 90s sitcom, Friends, and was always considered the show’s breakout star. Though she certainly starred in some stinkers as she tried to transition into film, darker roles in films like Office Space and The Good Girl had critics wondering if she could transition into a more respected career. But Aniston bought a one-way ticket to the land of rom-com trash, as well, starring in a series of bore-me-to-tears chick flicks like The Break-Up, He’s Just Not That Into You, and The Bounty Hunter.

The list could probably go on forever, but it’s gotten depressing enough. Maybe the only solution for serious cinephiles is to order an indie movie channel with your satellite TV package after all.

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