Picking the next project after an Oscar nomination can be difficult. Sometimes, as it the cases of Colin Firth and Jeff Bridges, they can net another nomination. Bridges, who won last year from Crazy Heart, was up again for True Grit, while last year's bridesmaid, Firth was up for A Single Man, and came victorious this year for The King's Speech. In their company last year was also Jeremy Renner for The Hurt Locker, who was up for supporting actor this time for The Town. Who will return next year:
Javier Bardem- He's going to follow up the Spanish miserablist melodrama Biutiful, with Terrence Malick's next film, which is still untitled and co-stars Ben Affleck, Rachel McAdams and Rachel Weisz. Malick's upcoming The Tree of Life is just opening this May after a long delay, so don't expect this one to come out in 2011. Bardem, a new father with fellow genetically gifted Spaniard Penelope Cruz is also rumored to be up for a role in the next Bond film.
Jeff Bridges- The Dude appears to be taking it easy for now. Aside from participating in a nutty-sounding documentary\animated feature called Pablo, and a speculative film option called The Seventh Son, there's not much on his slate.
Jesse Eisenberg- The Social Network star, on the other hand, is keeping plenty busy. This spring, his distinctively prickly voice will be used in the animated feature Rio, from the Ice Age guys. He'll also appear in more indie-driven comedies Free Samples, co-starring Jess Weixler (from Teeth, who I want to see more of) and 30 Minutes or Less, opposite Danny McBride.
Colin Firth- The 2010 champion is wasting no time-- he'll appear in the Cold War thriller Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy co-starring Tom Hardy and Gary Oldman later this year, has committing to heist flick, Gambit, co-starring Cameron Diaz, and written by the Coen Brothers, a remake of the 1966 film of the same name that featured Michael Caine and Shirley MacLaine, and may co-star opposite Nicole Kidman and Mia Wasikowska in grief drama Stoker.
Your Highness, co-starring 2011 ubiquity queen Natalie Portman, segue that into the indie drama Maladies, about a mentally disturbed actor, co-starring Catherine Keener. He'll further change gears with Rise of the Apes, a re-vamping of the Planet of the Apes flicks, and may close out 2011 with his directorial debut, The Broken Tower, about poet Hart Crane. All that and a rumored Broadway engagement with fellow 2010 nominee Nicole Kidman in a revival of Sweet Bird of Youth. And that's just on his plate this year...whew! I'm exhausted.
Annette Bening- The 4-time Oscar bridesmaid (seriously she had to be a strong second place each time out) looks to be taking 2011 off, but 2012 might be a good one for die-hard Bening fans-- she'll be in Hemingway & Fuentes, directed and co-starring Andy Garcia, opposite Anthony Hopkins, about the inspiration for The Old Man and the Sea, and might re-team with her American President director Rob Reiner for the dramedy The Third Act, co-starring Morgan Freeman.
Nicole Kidman- After getting back her Oscar groove with Rabbit Hole, Kidman has some promising stuff on her slate. She's already returned to screens with a cameo in the Andy Sandler film, Just Go With It, well go the genre route with Nicolas Cage in Joel Schumacher directed Trespass (which I think is a safely assumed miss), might appear on stage opposite James Franco in a revival of Sweet Bird of Youth, will court a potential Emmy (perhaps she'll be a Triple Crown victor by years end) with the HBO filmed Hemingway & Gellhorn, opposite Clive Owen about the inspiration of For Whom the Bell Tolls (that Hemingway guy is popular), then might appear opposite Colin Firth in Stoker.
Jennifer Lawrence- The Winter's Bone beauty (who became only the second youngest leading actress nominee in history this year) has a bounty of stuff coming our way. First up, is the bound to be controversial The Beaver, starring Mel Gibson, then the bound to be blockbuster with X-Men: First Class, where she play a youthful Mystique, followed by a supporting role in the Sundance grand prize winner (that makes her the star of two in a row) Like Crazy.
Natalie Portman- We've already seen two of Portman's nine thousand 2011 projects-- the winter hit No Strings Attached, and the indie flop The Other Woman. Next, she'll appear opposite James Franco in Your Highness, appear in the 2010 Sundance holdover Hesher along side Joseph Gordon Levitt, and join the Avenger ranks as the romantic lead to Thor. Of course, her most personal 2011 project will be that of mother, and while the personal lives of the rich and famous are of little interest to me, one must ask the question whether Portman will join the ranks of past Best Actress winners (Swank, Witherspoon, Winslet, Bullock) who found themselves unlucky in love after winning the Oscar? Let's hope not.
Meek's Cutoff, a western from her Wendy & Lucy director Kelly Reichardt (YAY!), which has already been praised after running the festival circuit last year. She follows that with My Week with Marilyn, as Ms. Monroe, opposite Kenneth Branagh, and lastly might close the year with Take This Waltz, a drama directed by Sarah Polley, opposite Seth Rogan. The latter was based on a script that was on the blacklist a few years back as one of the best unproduced screenplays; and I love my some Polley-- her directorial debut, Away From Her, earned it's actress, Julie Christie, an Oscar nomination. If I were a mad predicting fool, I'd suggest Williams has the strongest shot for a return to Kodak next year; thankfully I'm not that big of a fool.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Christian Bale- The Fighter winner will return to screens with a vengeance...in 2012. He'll star in Zhang Yimou's The 13 Women of Nanjing, play scientist Nikola Tesla, and return to small-scaled, more independent work with a little film called The Dark Knight Rises. Hopefully, an adventurous filmgoer will make that movie slightly profitable.
John Hawkes- Hawkes will follow his Sundance breakout and first nomination for Winter's Bone, with another Sundance hit-- Martha Marcy May Marlene, which won the directing prize this year. He will also be apart of the crazy all star cast of Contagion, the new thriller from Steven Soderbergh, co-starring everyone in the Screen Actors Guild-- it's my best bet for a Best Ensemble award next year.
Jeremy Renner- The former indie actor is moving on to big, big things. This year he'll co-star with Tom Cruise in the fourth installment of Mission: Impossible, exciting only because it's being directed by Brad Bird. Although, Ghost Protocol has to be one of the lamest subtitles in cinema history. He'll follow that with Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, opposite Gemma Arberton, and if the damn thing ever happens will suit up as Hawkeye in The Avengers.
Mark Ruffalo- The Kids Are All Right sperm donor might appear opposite fellow nominee Javier Bardem in Cogan's Trade, the new film from director Andrew Dominik (whose last-- The Assassination of Jesse James was a true marvel), will replace Edward Norton as the Hulk in The Avengers, and while it's silly to assume the movie will ever come out (it's been like six years), he is credited to Margaret, the long-gestating second film from Kenneth Lonergan (You Can Count on Me) co-starring Anna Paquin and Matt Damon.
The Eye of the Storm, in which Rush co-stars with Charlotte Rampling, however three-time Oscar nominee (and one-time winner) will be far more accessible returning to his role of the evil Barbossa, in god help us, the fourth film in the Pirates franchise: Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, in 3-D! Taking over the directing reins of Gore Verbinski, will be Rob Marshall. I'll be nice and reserve further comment.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Amy Adams- After the de-glam of her Fighter role, Adams will get far cheerier again with The Muppets, opposite Emily Blunt and Jason Segal. She'll follow with the role of Jane in Walter Salles' adaptation of Jack Kerouac's On the Road, which would sound awfully exciting if it weren't co-starring Kirsten Stewart and Garrett Hedlund. She's also joining the ranks of the long lists of actresses who were at some point attached to Janis Joplin bio-pic-- hopefully hers will be the chosen one to actually get made.
Helena Bonham Carter- After three blockbusters (playing two queens) in 2010, Carter will have to settle for appearing in but one in 2011: Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows: Part II, which I hear is quite popular. After that, she may appear in husband Tim Burton's (but, of course) adaptation of Dark Shadows, based on the television show. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I'm totally still rooting on Burton.
Melissa Leo- The wacky Oscar winner always keeps herself busy. 2011 is no exception-- she'll appear in the HBO mini-series Mildred Pierce, directed by Todd Haynes and starring Kate Winslet, she also has a role in the controversial Kevin Smith Sundance shocker, Red State, which may never see a cinema near anyone, and will appear in the sports drama Seven Days in Utopia alongside Robert Duvall.
Hailee Steinfeld- It appears that 14-year-old Steinfeld is going to enjoy her youth for a bit, no projects lined up yet...however an Oscar nomination your first time out; not too shabby.
Jacki Weaver- It doesn't appear that Hollywood is calling for her as of yet, which is a damn shame...she was my favorite of the supporting line-up last year, and a meaty role would be greatly enjoyed by me; Hollywood don't be selfish here- think of my needs.