What’s Next for the Academy Award Winners?

The 84th Annual Academy Awards have wrapped, officially concluding the 2011 movie year. (Yes, I’m aware that we’re already two full months into 2012, but the Academy moves slower than we’d prefer.)

As expected, The Artist -- Michel Hazanavicius’ ode to Hollywood’s Golden Age -- took home the evening’s top honors, claiming best picture, director and actor for the effervescent Jean Dujardin. The remaining acting trophies were divided up between the legendary Meryl Streep (for The Iron Lady), Octavia Spencer (for The Help), and the iconic Christopher Plummer, whose win for Beginners makes him our oldest actor to win an Oscar.
 
But enough looking back. Let’s project forward. Let’s figure out when you’ll be able to see these worthy talents in their next films … and see if their future efforts can get them back to the Oscar podium.
 
Hazanavicius should have his pick of a potent litter once Oscar’s buzz dies down. Guiding a silent, black-and-white picture to Oscar wins earns you that right. But he already has part of a film "in the can," as they say. He and his Artist lead, Dujardin, collaborated on a short film entitled The Players, which is a compilation of shorts centered on infidelity. It recently opened in Belgium and France, and could reach the U.S. later this year.
 
You won’t have to wait quite as long to see Meryl Streep’s latest. Great Hope Springs pairs the now three-time best actress winner with Tommy Lee Jones as a life-long couple who visits an unconventional marriage counselor (Steve Carell) to see if their relationship is finished. The dramedy, directed by David Frankel (The Devil Wears Prada), reaches theaters on Aug. 10.
 
 
As for Spencer and Plummer, the picture isn’t quite as clear. At 82, Plummer doesn’t juggle quite as many film projects as he’d probably like. (He’s a self-proclaimed workaholic.) But he is on tap to play John Marshall Harlan in Stephen Frears’ planned Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight, a drama centered on the legendary fighter’s battles with the U.S. government about his draft dodging. Frank Langella and Benjamin Walker co-star as Chief Justice Warren Burger and Kevin Kennedy, respectively, though the film’s just now in pre-production and might not reach theaters until 2013.
 
Spencer, meanwhile, has a couple of projects that could be in theaters sooner rather than later, especially now that she’s an Oscar winner and that can help sell tickets. The comedy Smashed played the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, earning favorable reviews but failing to button down a solid theatrical release date. We’ll likely see it before Spencer’s The Trials and Tribulations of a Trailer Trash Housewife, which casts the newly minted Oscar winner as LaSonia Robinson in an adaptation of Del Shores’ own play.
 
And while I was going to limit this rundown to the top six Oscar categories, it’s worth mentioning that Woody Allen -- who won the Best Original Screenplay Oscar for Midnight in Paris -- has Nero Fiddled heading toward theaters on June 22. The 76-year-old routinely puts out a movie a year, and has done so since 1971. Some miss. Others win Oscars. But by this point, only three things are guaranteed in life: Death; taxes; and Woody Allen.
 
 
 
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