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Oscar nominees? post-ceremony career plans

Oscar nominees? post-ceremony career plans — We look at what’s up next for Matt Damon, Helen Hunt, and the rest of this year’s nominees

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The winners have their statuettes, the losers have their memories, everyone’s nursing hangovers — and now it’s time to get back to work. Most of 1998’s nominees have solid career moves planned, but there are a few surprises in the bunch (TNT movies, Burt?). Here are the coming attractions:

Best Actor

While Dustin Hoffman and Jack Nicholson are reading scripts and enjoying some time off, their colleagues aren’t resting on their laurels. The hottest post-Oscar commodity is unquestionably Matt Damon, who wrapped a smallish role in Steven Spielberg’s World War II pic Saving Private Ryan (due in July) with Tom Hanks, then moved on to the Miramax gambling drama Rounders (opening in August) with Edward Norton. Next: Kevin Smith’s Dogma, and the murderously charming title character in Anthony Minghella’s The Talented Mr. Ripley. Robert Duvall will first battle 1998’s favorite inanimate villain — an asteroid — in Deep Impact and then fight opposing counsel John Travolta in Steven Zaillian’s adaptation of A Civil Action. And Peter Fonda, as always, will be taking the road less traveled: He’s hawking his autobiography Don’t Tell Dad and starring in Showtime’s The Passion of Ayn Rand.

Best Actress

Helen Hunt has passed on just about everything and at press time had just signed a $1 million-per-episode deal to return to NBC’s Mad About You. She’ll be on Broadway in Twelfth Night this summer. Helena Bonham Carter costars opposite boyfriend Kenneth Branagh in The Theory of Flight (September) and appears in A Merry War, the film adaptation of George Orwell’s Keep the Aspidistra Flying. The imperial Judi Dench is slated to star as Elizabeth I alongside Gwyneth Paltrow, Geoffrey Rush, and Ben Affleck in the romantic comedy Shakespeare in Love. In Titanic‘s wake, Kate Winslet’s indie drama Hideous Kinky seems sure to find a distributor; meanwhile, negotiations have heated up for her to star in Jane Campion’s next film, Holy Smoke. And Afterglow‘s picky Julie Christie hasn’t settled on her next project.

Best Supporting Actor

We don’t know why Burt Reynolds is using his rediscovered clout to do a series of crime-drama films for TNT. His next big-screen project sounds more comeback appropriate: He stars opposite Russell Crowe in David E. Kelley’s hockey comedy Mystery, Alaska, about average guys who take on the New York Rangers. Robin Williams has finished shooting the fantasy What Dreams May Come with last year’s Best Supporting Actor, Cuba Gooding Jr., and plays an unlikely war hero in Jakob the Liar, due next year. Perennial nominee Anthony Hopkins has both the swashbuckling Mask of Zorro and the Brad Pitt vehicle Meet Joe Black in the can, and is currently in Florida with Gooding, shooting Instinct, a psychological drama about a doctor who kills to protect a family of gorillas in Africa. When actor J.T. Walsh died unexpectedly in February, Robert Forster stepped into his role in the indie Outside Ozona; he’s also been in discussions with directors Oliver Stone and Peter Greenaway. And Greg Kinnear will play the Bill Pullman role — the guy Meg Ryan dumps for Tom Hanks — in the romantic comedy You’ve Got Mail, due this Christmas.

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