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Reese new Oscar-buzzed film in flirty floral dress

Despite the gritty sex and drug themes of her new movie, Reese Witherspoon managed to get caught in a fit of laughs before a crowd.

The early Oscar contender had plenty to cheer about as she took part in a panel with her Wild co-star Laura Dern and author Cheryl Strayed during a promotional luncheon Wednesday in New York City.

She looked spectacular in a white dress with bat wing sleeves that was adorned with red flower pedals.

The 38-year-old actress completed the link with nude shoes, simple diamond earrings, and pulled her blonde strands to the side of her shoulder. Her rosy shade of lipstick matched the red flower pieces on her outfit, and her dark, full eyelashes made her blue eyes pop.

By her side on the panel was her mom in the movie, actress Dern, 47, who wore a plum-colored dress teamed with nude, lace-up heels.

And author Strayed, of which the movie is based off her memoir that was optioned and produced by Witherspoon, wore a figure-hugging scarlet dress with black heels.

Photo: http://www.kissydressinau.com/vintage-formal-dresses

Witherspoon is on a promotional blitz for the drama that chronicles the true story of Strayed's 100-day walk, taken when she was 26, from southern California to the Oregon/Washington border along the Pacific Crest Trail.

The introspective journey, taken alone, was her attempt to put her life back together four years after her mom's death. Her mother, played by Dern, is seen in flashbacks in the movie that's peppered with sex, nudity, drugs and emotional breakdowns.

And there's Oscar buzz for the Legally Blonde star, who already nabbed an Oscar statue for 2005's Walk The Line.

Variety said the Cruel Intentions actress' performance was an 'intensely committed turn that, in its blend of grit, vulnerability, physical bravery and emotional immediacy, represents easily her most affecting and substantial work in the nine years since Walk The Line.'

And Deadline agreed, saying she 'nails it' and 'delivers her best screen work since her Oscar-winning turn in Walk The Line, and this three-dimensional portrayal of a woman searching for herself... is certain to put her back in the thick of the race.'

A New York Post review said Witherspoon's performance 'demolishes her squeaky-clean Legally Blonde image' and 'You can bet on Reese Witherspoon receiving a Best Actress nomination for Wild, in which she delivers her finest performance since winning in that Oscar category a decade ago.'

In an interview with HuffPost Live Tuesday, the author gave praise to Witherspoon on her unhinged performance.

'She was really brave and raw and both emotionally naked and physically naked in ways that she'd never quite been before, and I did have to say to her at one point, "Look, I'm so sorry I was such a slut in the '90s,"' she said, adding, 'I'm just happy we finally got to see Reese's boobs.'

In an interview in Glamour's January 2015 issue, Witherspon expressed her fears about the challenges of the role. 'I was scared of the really emotional scenes. I was scared of the sexuality. I was scared of the grittiness and of being bare on-screen. It's not just about having no makeup on your face, like I did in the film,' Witherspoon recalled.

Wild, based on Strayed's New York Times Bestseller hits theaters nationwide on Friday.

Also Read: unusual formal dresses

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