Vulture’s Post-Oscar Career Planner

Ellen, please.

Well, now that Nate Silver has selected the winners and Oscar season is officially over, it’s time to take stock of all that we’ve learned. What wisdom do we hope this year’s nominees, snubbed hopefuls, and breakout stars take away from one of the most exciting awards races in recent memory? Vulture has personalized advice for the actors and filmmakers who’ve made these past four months the most entertaining, and, just to make things interesting, we’ve paired it with the funniest awards-season photos of them we could find on Getty Images. Click for Vulture’s Post-Oscar Career Planner slideshow!

Assuming that Kate Winslet wins an overdue Best Actress statue on Sunday, she’ll finally be free to take a break from playing miserable housewives and naked Nazis. So what next? Well, with Mamma Mia!, her fellow nominee Meryl Streep proved that it’s totally possible for a top-quality actress to cash in on an awfulsome blockbuster jukebox musical without tarnishing her cred with the Academy – so why can’t Winslet? She showed that she’s got the chops in Romance & Cigarettes. So who would begrudge her one giant paycheck and a few months of singing and dancing on a sunny island someplace? Not us – she worked hard last year!
Nobody – not even the Trainspotting director himself – could have predicted a year ago that Boyle would be sitting atop the Oscar pile with a partly subtitled Indian film based on a cheesy game show. Now Boyle can do anything. But since Hollywood loves to bastardize a good thing, we just hope he’ll pass on the lucrative offer to direct Pharoah Feud, an epic Romeo and Juliet adaptation about the son of a camel herder and the daughter of Sheikh, framed within an episode of the Egyptian version of Family Feud.
Clearly, Nolan should stop making dark pop masterpieces and instead do something less popular and more Holocaust-y if he wants a Best Picture nomination (or even a Best Director nod). Simpler yet, Nolan should take the easy route and adapt a Tony-nominated Broadway play like Mr. Safety, Ron Howard. Seriously, we’d love to see him do something dark and convoluted, like Martin McDonagh’s Lieutenant of Inishmore. But August: Osage County might be a safer bet.
Whenever Slumdog Millionaire’s sweep of top awards this season threatened to become boring, there was Anil Kapoor to personally surprise fans at a screening of his movie, or to make Dev Patel’s acceptance speech for him. There’s practically no telling what he might do or whose award he might walk off with (Heath Ledger’s?) on Sunday if security doesn’t keep an eye on him. We just hope he’ll act in every single movie he’s offered, so that his awesome publicity tour might never end. Also, the fact that Jimmy Fallon has his own talk show and Anil Kapoor does not is an international embarrassment.
Apart from Angelina Jolie’s Best Actress nomination for Changeling, neither of Clint Eastwood’s two 2008 films really caught the Academy’s attention. But that’s okay – Gran Torino made $130 million, making it the fall’s highest-grossing awards contender. We wish he’d forget about the Oscars for a few years, embrace his status as a hit-maker, and release a big summer movie in which he played another grizzled, unintelligible war veteran who mercilessly dispatches a bunch of obnoxious young people. If it came out in August, we bet it could crack $200 million.
By the time Sunday night is over, Amy Adams might very well walk away with her first Oscar. But even if she leaves another Oscar ceremony empty-handed, her career is in excellent shape. She’s in her acting prime and getting great roles, so why not take a chance and do something timely next? Our suggestion: she should revisit her beloved, Southern-fried character from Junebug. Only this time around, they could figure out a way to work in an in-vitro-fertilization twist. They could call it Junebugs!
This year, Hoffman starred in the year’s most ambitious (and mind-scrambling) film, Synecdoche, New York. And he starred in another one of those standard-issue Broadway-to-Hollywood transfers. Guess which won earned him an Oscar? Yep, Doubt. And the only other two Oscar nods for one of film’s wildest actors have both been for non-fiction roles (Charlie Wilson’s War and Capote). Lesson: Be boring! Don’t dare to dream.
The obvious lesson: Keep impersonating studio executives and insiders will keep nominating you for awards. But if Cruise is truly savvy, he’ll combine the two best parts of Tropic Thunder and star opposite Tyler Perry in the next Madea film, in blackface AND a fat suit. A skinny white guy, playing a fat black dude? Oscar – and box-office – gold.
Based on the way both audiences and the Academy ignored Leonardo DiCaprio’s tortured turns in Revolutionary Road and Body of Lies last year, it might be wise for him to lighten up a bit. He should take a page from the Tom Cruise–circa–Jerry Maguire playbook and find a role that showcases his underutilized ability to turn on the charm without drifting into schmaltz. Or he could just make a movie with Harvey Weinstein.
Old-man-baby shenanigans aside, everyone knows that Pitt’s real star turn last year was in the Coen brothers’ Burn After Reading. Sure, the partnership didn’t pay dividends this awards season, but we’d love to see Pitt become a permanent member of the Coen bros.’ stable. And as much as he probably wants a Best Actor statue on Sunday, we think his best shot at future Oscar glory is in the supporting category.
Despite an impressive thirteen nominations, there’s chatter that Benjamin Button could leave Sunday’s Oscar ceremony empty-handed. Did David Fincher’s notorious hotheadedness hurt his campaign? How can he prove to the Academy that he’s really a nice guy? How about by co-directing a movie with David O. Russel that stars Christian Bale? If no audio clips of foul-mouthed on-set ranting leak to the Internet, he’s practically guaranteed a Best Director statue.
Over the past two Oscar seasons, Josh Brolin has gone from the guy best remembered as the oldest Goonie to one of Hollywood’s most respected actors. You’re on the cusp, man, you just need that one great lead role! We’d love to see him team up with someone like Terrence Malick and tackle a prestige project like Malick’s long-gestating movie adaptation of Walker Percy’s beloved novel, The Moviegoer. Yeah, Binx Bolling was in his twenties in the book, but that’s nothing a small script tweak can’t fix.
As Marisa Tomei, Amy Adams, and Meryl Streep proved again this Oscar season, the Academy’s love of the virgin/whore dichotomy is still alive and well. For her next role, Tomei might play it safe and merely decide between props: rosary beads (per Adams and Streep) or her usual pasties? We say: Why not use both as a stripper-nun in a kinky art-house movie, directed by Quentin Tarantino?
We feared Anne Hathaway might never shed her goody-goody Princess Diaries tiara, but her transition to quality actress last year was genius. She smartly became romantically involved with a creepy financier – then broke it off just as we were all learning to hate creepy financiers and on the eve of her adult movie debut as an addict in Rachel Getting Married. Unfortunately, she’s going to lose to Kate Winslet. How to resolve the situation? Marry a high-profile director (à la Winslet – it can’t hurt), then go half retard. She was merely narcissistic and addicted in RGM; that won’t win her awards. Her next best role: something truly suicidal, manic-depressive, and working-class.
Wall-E may not have won the Best Picture nomination that Vulture demanded a week before we’d actually seen it. But this half-silent, apocalyptic robot love story got a nod for Best Original Screenplay and came closer than any Pixar movie ever has to competing in Oscar’s top category, proving that Academy voters are ready for more serious subject matter from Hollywood’s best studio. Has Andrew Stanton ever considered adapting Art Spiegelman’s Maus? Could Pixar hold the cure for Holocaust-movie fatigue?
In their short scenes in Revolutionary Road and Doubt, supporting nominees Michael Shannon and Viola Davis each impressively stole the spotlight from some of the screen’s most respected and accomplished actors with the volcanic power of their thespianism. Obviously they need to do a movie together to determine who is truly better at commanding our attention. And just for fun, their third co-star should be a topless, knife-juggling unicyclist.
It’s tough to recommend a different course for Mickey Rourke, seeing as how he ran the greatest Oscar campaign in history. Vulture hopes that Rourke will avoid the pitfalls that trapped previous Aranofsky darling Ellen Burstyn; in other words, cash in your chips, score as many large paydays as possible and wait another twenty years for Oscar to come knocking at your door again.
Vulture’s Post-Oscar Career Planner