Post-Oscar career slumps: it could happen to you

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This column was originally published in the Central Western Daily on Tuesday 25th January 2011.

The Oscars are almost upon us. On February 27 at the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles, the stars will come together for Hollywood’s night of nights. The nominees are yet to be announced, although I’m pretty sure that Natalie Portman and Colin Firth already have their speeches ready. Whilst I’m certain that every actor would love to be called to the podium to receive an Oscar, there isn’t any guarantee that a career will continue to soar after winning arguably the world’s most famous paper weight.

Christoph Waltz burst onto the Hollywood scene in last year’s Inglourious Basterds, winning the Oscar for Best Actor. Although not an overnight success (he has been working in theatre, television and non-Hollywood films for over thirty years), his depiction of the cruel and ruthless Colonel Hans Landa in Quentin Tarantino’s masterpiece made audiences take notice. Many cinefiles such as myself couldn’t wait to see what this obviously very talented Austrian would do next.

Disappointingly, he followed up his Oscar winning performance as a villain with a role playing practically the same villain in The Green Hornet which hit screens last week. I’m sorry, but being in 3D doesn’t give a performance extra depth. Coming up next for Waltz is an adaption of The Three Musketeers. I just hope he’s not playing a cruel and ruthless villain.

Cuba Gooding, Jr followed a remarkable turn in Boyz n the Hood (1991) with a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for Jerry Maguire in 1996. His critically acclaimed performance as footballer Rod Tidwell spawned the catchphrase, “Show me the money.” Unfortunately for Gooding, his Oscar win was for acting, not role selection, and it has been downhill ever since.

How do you follow-up the role of a lifetime? Why not take on the challenging Shakespearian drama of Boat Trip (2002), Norbit and Daddy Day Camp (both 2007)? Gooding’s acting work has been the exclusive domain of direct to TV movies for the past two years. I guess we all have to eat.

After a string of erotic thrillers and action films in the eighties and early nineties, Kim Basinger took out the 1997 Best Supporting Actress Oscar for L.A. Confidential. As femme fetale Lynn Bracken, she was perfectly cast as the Veronica Lake look-alike prostitute. With the exception of a few major releases such as Cellular (2004) and The Sentinel (2006), Basinger has been working on small independent pictures and television since. She also has had the dubious honour of portraying Eminem and Zac Efron’s mother in 8 Mile (2002) and Charlie St Cloud (2010), respectively.

Who can forget Roberto Benigni’s over the top reaction to winning the Best Actor Oscar in 1999 for Life is Beautiful? I think almost everyone would like to forget it. The excitable Benigni climbed over the seats and applauded the audience before making his way to the podium to make a giddy speech. Unfortunately since then, he has directed and starred in Pinocchio (2002), which bombed at the box office, as well as taking roles in epic historical dramas such as Asterix and Obelix vs Caesar (1999).

Unless you’re receiving a lifetime achievement honour at the Academy Awards, the assumption is that the best is yet to come. In the ever changing world of Hollywood, that is not always true despite talent and luck. Still, a win is a win and being an Oscar recipient ensures your name will be in the record books forever. Hollywood history shows that in time, only the good films are remembered. Did I mention that Orson Welles’ final performance was in Transformers: The Movie (1986)?

The Oscars: Who will win and who should win?

This column was originally published in the Central Western Daily on Tuesday 2nd March 2010.

The 82nd Academy Awards will be presented in the US on Sunday 7th March, which means that all of the drama will unfold during the day on Monday 8th March Australian time. The winners of the British Academy Awards, the Screen Actors Guild Awards and the Golden Globes have already been announced and are said to predict the outcome of the Oscars. However, as last year’s Best Actor category showed, where Mickey Rourke won at the majority of award ceremonies but lost out to Sean Penn for the big one, the winners are not necessarily set in stone. Here are my tips for who will win and who should win an Oscar.

Best Lead Actor Jeff Bridges has been winning acclaim for his role of grizzled country singer “Bad” Blake in Crazy Heart. He also actually performs the songs in the film. I expect him to win this year based on his large and impressive body of work and his previous four nominations. For my money, Colin Firth should win for his portrayal of a college professor planning to suicide after the death of his lover in A Single Man.

Best Lead Actress Sandra Bullock is strangely in the lead to win best actress for The Blind Side as well as worst actress for the bomb All About Steve. As a heartstring tugging sports flick, all tickets to The Blind Side should come with a box of tissues. Bullock is probably the best thing in it, so I’d prefer the award go to Cary Mulligan for her performance as a 1960’s schoolgirl who is swept off her feet by an older man in An Education.

Best Supporting Actor Austrian actor Christolph Waltz will be unstoppable in this category. His remarkable Nazi Colonel Hans Landa in Inglorious Basterds is easily the most memorable villain of the year. Expect an acceptance speech where Waltz babbles about how Basterd’s director Quentin Tarantino changed his life.

Best Supporting Actress Comedienne and actress Mo’Nique’s frighteningly gritty performance as neglectful and violent mother Mary in Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire (yes, that is actually the full title of the film) has already won several awards. She’ll accept her Oscar with an emotionally charged speech. God is sure to be thanked.

Best Animated Feature Disney’s return to hand drawn features with The Princess and the Frog, and two old school stop motion hits in Coraline and The Fantastic Mr Fox have made 2009 a very memorable year for animation. However, no other film, animated or otherwise, had the heart of Up. The first ten minutes of this Disney-Pixar classic are gut wrenchingly sad and will never leave you.

Best Director James Cameron will win for his motion capture remake of FernGully. His breakthroughs in high tech filmmaking (Terminator 2, The Abyss and Titanic) have shaped the film industry over the past twenty five years. He’ll never win a best screenplay award, but much like The Jazz Singer in 1927 which introduced sound to the cinema, Avatar will be remembered as a turning point in motion pictures. For films set on Earth, I’d love to see James Cameron’s ex-wife, Kathryn Bigelow get the nod for The Hurt Locker.

Best Picture Dances with Smurfs will win, no question. This year, to improve TV ratings, the nominee list for best picture has been expanded to ten films. My picks for the silver medal would be South African sci-fi classic District 9 (love the prawns), Iraq-set military thriller The Hurt Locker and Quentin Tarantino’s rewriting of World War 2 history, Inglorious Basterds.

Published in: on March 7, 2010 at 13:06  Leave a Comment  
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