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What's Next?

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All that Oscar’s Class of 2002 has had to do for the last month is show up and revel in the attention. But a year from now, will they avoid being seen as last year’s flukes? For the actors and directors, their next choices can be even more important than the ones that earned them their nominations. Here’s what’s in their sights.

BEST ACTOR Russell Crowe is getting back in action, starring as Captain Jack Aubrey in The Far Side of the World, director Peter Weir’s adaptation of Patrick O’Brian’s naval war series. He’s also working on his screenwriting and directing debut, a war drama titled The Long Green Shore. Denzel Washington is in postproduction on his directorial debut, The Untitled Antwone Fisher Story (opening Nov. 27), a biopic about a troubled Navy man who eventually became a screenwriter (and wrote this script). Washington will then reteam with Devil in a Blue Dress director Carl Franklin for Out of Time, playing a cop torn between two lovers, feeling like a fool. Will Smith has Men in Black II (July 3) in the can, and is weighing offers — he’s reportedly negotiating to star in the Michael Bay-directed sci-fi film I Am Legend. Tom Wilkinson costars with Rupert Everett, Colin Firth, and busy fellow nominee Judi Dench (see below) in Oliver Parker’s adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest (May 17); he has also wrapped Before You Go, starring Julie Walters and John Hannah. As for Sean Penn, no, we’re not making this up: He filmed a cameo in the docu-comedy You’ll Never Wiez in This Town Again, directed by Pauly Shore. He can also be seen in this fall’s long-awaited release of The Weight of Water opposite Elizabeth Hurley (the movie was screened to mixed reviews at the Toronto Film Festival in September 2000). Finally, he’s got another cameo in Thomas Vinterberg’s ensemble piece It’s All About Love.

BEST ACTRESS Sissy Spacek hasn’t decided on her next project yet, but she’s already shot the Disney film Tuck Everlasting (out this fall). Halle Berry is going glam again, playing the Bond girl opposite Pierce Brosnan in Die Another Day (Nov. 22) before beginning the X-Men sequel this summer. Judi Dench will reprise her role as M alongside Berry in Die Another Day; in addition to Earnest, she will also film more episodes of her long-running BBC comedy series As Time Goes By this spring, and appear this fall on stage in London in David Hare’s The Breath of Life opposite nominee Maggie Smith. Renee Zellweger has been a very busy bee since Bridget, playing a foster mother opposite Michelle Pfeiffer and Noah Wyle in White Oleander (Oct. 4), singing and dancing her way through the murderous role of Roxie in Chicago (December), and prepping to play a feminist writer in Down With Love, which she’ll begin filming with Ewan McGregor this spring. Nicole Kidman’s keeping some fine Oscar company: She recently wrapped Stephen Daldry’s The Hours, in which she plays Virginia Woolf with Meryl Streep and Julianne Moore; she soon begins filming Robert Benton’s adaptation of Philip Roth’s The Human Stain alongside Anthony Hopkins and Ed Harris, and also stars in Lars von Trier’s movie Dogville. Finally, Zellweger and Kidman look nearly set to work with Jude Law in Anthony Minghella’s long-in-development adaptation of Cold Mountain (Tom Cruise recently dropped out

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