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Now that the Academy Awards have come and gone and the winners have had their trophies engraved, it's time to look forward, to an uncertain future. Every year there is talk of an Oscar curse — for every perpetually working Charlize Theron or Russell Crowe, there's a Mira Sorvino, a Cuba Gooding, an Adrien Brody. Hell, even a Hilary Swank, at this point. Winning an Oscar can be a tricky thing, raising expectations too soon, pointing a career in a direction it maybe shouldn't go. (Usually toward unnecessarily serious fare — look where Robin Williams went after Good Will Hunting, proving even an established actor can falter after an Oscar.) So to that end, we've decided to give some unsolicited career advice to the four acting Oscar winners from this year. If they heed the advice, a decades-long bounty of roles and accolades awaits them. Should they ignore it, there is only doom and obscurity.
Let's look at what Hathaway has coming up on her IMDb resume. She's got a voice part in Rio 2 and a small role in Don Jon's Addiction, but that's it. So her future is wide open. The good thing about her winning for Les Miz, rather than something more straightforward, is that it's such a particular kind of a movie that people likely won't try to recreate that for her over and over again. Yes there's the rumor that she'll be doing another musical called Song One, but it's a contemporary thing and more akin to Once than Les Miz. So really she can, and should, go back to the momentum created for her by Rachel Getting Married and The Dark Knight Rises. You know, do some indie dramas with respected directors, projects that loosen her up and let her ramble a bit. And, yeah, the bigger budget stuff, but only with super talented people like Christopher Nolan. Actually, I'm pretty convinced Catwoman was a fluke, so maybe she shouldn't try to repeat action success in any way. That way lies ruin. Instead I think she needs a good, winning romance to help buoy her along, something like Shakespeare In Love but not Shakespeare In Love, maybe not period at all. Something that's not about her being perky or gamine or cute, because those sides of her are a bit exhausted. A role that's full and adult and passionate. What's Jane Campion doing after Top of the Lake? Would Alfonso Cuarón want to direct her in some sweeping, swooning romance? That could work. She could also try to find her Sleepless in Seattle, maybe with Jennifer Westfeldt? Or you know what? She should convince Alexander Payne to direct her in a really smart, funny, grownup romantic comedy. That's the ticket. People need to really fall in love with Anne Hathaway. That's what needs to happen next.
Lawrence's trickiest obstacle is probably her age. She's a big movie star now — thanks to the Oscar of course, but also The Hunger Games and to a lesser extent X-Men make her financially viable — but she's only 22. She's got a long road ahead of her and thus many opportunities for pitfalls. She'll probably be fine, in that she seems to have good representation and more importantly a good head on her shoulders, but things could go south if she gets lured down the wrong path. For example: Big paycheck romantic comedies probably shouldn't be her thing. Well, big paycheck romantic comedies hardly exist anymore, but if someone were to offer her one, with someone like Tom Hardy or something, I'd hope she would turn it down. Also, no straight-up action movies for a while. Hunger Games is enough of that; one wouldn't want to over-saturate. She's got her hands full with those damn Hunger Games movies for the foreseeable future — three more are scheduled to come out — but maybe she could find the time to do a smart, elegant thriller. You know, her Silence of the Lambs. Maybe see what David Fincher is up to, or Rian Johnson or Kathryn Bigelow. The Accused certainly helped Jodie Foster transition into adult roles, but Silence of the Lambs really solidified it. Lawrence could use a role like that. Not that everything she does should be so dark — she should do something with Spike Jonze too — but the more she's able to seem just that little bit more grownup, the better she'll be secured as she goes.
Waltz is a funny case, because he won two Oscars within three years of each other for, if we're honest, playing essentially the same role. Hans Landa was bad and King Schultz was sorta good, but both were loquacious raconteurs, possessed of a certain rhythm and style that were almost exactly alike. That's fine! They're great performances. But he'd be wise to expand his repertoire a little. It's encouraging that he's got the lead in a Terry Gilliam movie coming up, and that he'll be playing Mikhail Gorbachev in a true-life story about the Cold War. That's new stuff, that's different. For a guy like him, who's got the benefit of acclaim without the huge pressures of fame, doing a play in New York or London might be an interesting idea. Or a limited run television series, one that gives him time to get into the grooves of a real-ish person over time. I'm sure Waltz is plenty happy to keep on the path of being the quirky character actor, but it could be fascinating to see him take a true leading man role. Maybe Macbeth or something like that. To see him get out of the character realm and tackle something really massive would probably be fascinating.
OK, OK, so the guy's won three of these things and is doing just fine, and plans to take five years off of acting apparently, so he probably doesn't need some rando giving him advice, but whatever. Gonna do it anyway. You know what was fun? Daniel Day-Lewis making all those jokes on stage during his acceptance speech. You know, the whole thing about Meryl Streep playing Lincoln and him playing Margaret Thatcher. It was fun and free-wheeling and it made me hungry for more. So my advice to Daniel Day-Lewis? Do some comedy! Not, like, The Hangover, but maybe he should see what the Coen Brothers have simmering right now, or Charlie Kaufman, or someone else in that vein. Something smart and quirky but decidedly funny. A real comedy. Not that Daniel Day-Lewis needs to warm up his image — he was scary in There Will Be Blood, sure, but his lovely acceptance speeches that season reminded us that he's in no way Daniel Plainview — but it could be an interesting experiment, a new avenue, one away from all the intensity of his most recent roles. I suppose you could make the argument that Nine was something of a comedy, but a lot of that was unintentional. He should do the real thing, give it a whirl, see if he likes it. Maybe he won't and then that's that, at least he knows. But what if a new comedy genius is born! I mean, how could he not be a genius at it? He's a genius at everything else. (Except maybe singing.)