'I'd like to thank all the people who will still employ me...'

You win an Oscar, your career is set, yes? Not necessarily – it's what you do next that counts, says Geoffrey Macnab

So what do you do next? This is the question that regularly vexes Oscar winners. On the night they win their statuettes, it seems that they have been given the keys to the magic kingdom but all too many promptly manage to get lost. Whether through erratic advice from their agents and managers, their own wilful stupidity, or sheer bad luck, they fritter away the goodwill and most of the career opportunities.

It was very curious indeed to see double Oscar-winner Hilary Swank (Boys Don't Cry, Million Dollar Baby) attending the birthday party last autumn of Ramzan Kadyrov, the president of Chechnya. Although she subsequently apologised and was reported to have sacked her manager, her (paid for) appearance at a party hosted by a dictator described by the soon-to-be-murdered Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya as "the Stalin of our days" was a career blunder on a monumental scale. Thankfully, Jean Dujardin (who won his first Oscar last week) hasn't been consorting with Eastern European tyrants. However, the French actor who gave such a dashing performance as the Douglas Fairbanks-like silent movie star is already embroiled in controversy, less than a week after making his Academy Award acceptance speech.

The problem is that Dujardin has gone back to his Gallic roots. He is one of the directors and stars of new French portmanteau pic Les infidèles (The Players), a raucous comedy drama about French "male infidelity in all its desperate, absurd and wildly funny variety" (as the producers describe it.) In the section directed by The Artist's Michel Hazanavicius, Dujardin plays a businessman determined to commit adultery before going home from a company conference.

Judging by the critics' sniffy responses ("Uggie the dog almost certainly conducts his sex life with more discretion than the dopes on display here," complained Screen International), this is one film that certainly won't be winning any Oscars.

Worse, Dujardin's image appears on the poster. It doesn't show the actor at his most dignified. He is pictured in a bedraggled business suit, holding a pair of naked female legs and saying "I am going into a meeting". It's more Benny Hill than French art-house cinema. Predictably, although the film is satirising leering middle-aged French men struggling to control their libido, it has been accused of rampant sexism. If Dujardin was angling for future roles in Disney films, this wasn't an astute way to go about it.

In the Darwinian world of Hollywood, it's astounding how quickly even the most firmly established stars can lose their footing. That is one of the main themes of The Artist. Audiences want "fresh meat". If there is just a whiff of decay about an actor or film-maker, they will quickly be discarded.

There are many stories about Oscar winners who've fallen from grace. When Halle Berry became the first woman of African-American descent to win a Best Actress Academy Award for Monster's Ball, it was a fair assumption that she would become a major figure in Hollywood. However, roles in Die Another Day and Catwoman didn't enhance her credibility. She has been given the opportunity to make very few films since that have stretched her as an actress.

A further cautionary tale is that of the young Dutch director Mike van Diem, who won a Foreign Language Oscar in 1998 for his costume drama, Character. Van Diem, who had also won a "student" Oscar a few years before, was signed up to direct Spy Game (2001), a huge Hollywood film starring Robert Redford and Brad Pitt. However, van Diem left the project before shooting, citing concerns about its "scale and tone." Almost 15 years after his Academy Award success, he is yet to direct another feature.

Van Diem's compatriot Marleen Gorris is yet another Oscar-winning film-maker whose career hasn't flourished in the way that might have been anticipated. When Gorris won her Oscar (again for Foreign Language Film) for Antonia's Line in 1995, she looked set to emerge as a major European director. She helmed a moderately well-received Virginia Woolf adaptation, Mrs Dalloway (1997), The Luzhin Defence (2000), and Carolina (2003), a romantic comedy starring Shirley MacLaine. Nonetheless, her career tailed off. Although she did go on to make Within the Whirlwind (2009), her experiences underline the dilemma that often faces European Oscar-winners. They have the chance to work on a broader canvas and with major stars, but with this opportunity comes a loss of freedom. At the same time, they risk becoming uprooted from their own film-making cultures.

London-based Luise Rainer, now 102 years old, out-Streeped Meryl Streep in her day. Not only did she won two Best Actress Oscars, she won them in consecutive years, for The Great Ziegfeld (1936) and The Good Earth (1937.) She was up against ferocious competition from the likes of Greta Garbo, Norma Shearer, Carole Lombard, Barbara Stanwyck and Janet Gaynor. However, unlike Streep, she wasn't able to continue racking up the Oscar nominations. Her career rapidly went into a tailspin.

"Rainer became the most extreme case of an 'Oscar victim in Hollywood' mythology," critic Emmanuel Levy wrote of her. "Her dwindling career prompted gossip columnist Louella Parsons to coin the phrase, 'the Oscar as a jinx'." The challenges that winning Oscars can pose are self-evident. Recipients often begin to take themselves too seriously and thereby risk growing away from their audience. They try too hard to emulate a success which may have been accidental.

Colin Welland famously declared "the British are coming" when he won a Best Screenplay Award for Chariots of Fire. Of course, they weren't really. Nor did director/comedian Roberto Benigni's seat-climbing antics when he won an Oscar for Life is Beautiful lead to any great flowering in Italian cinema. With the exception of hardy perennials like Streep, Martin Scorsese, Woody Allen and one or two others, Oscar success for most film-makers and actors is strictly on a one-off basis. That applies to Americans as much as Europeans. There are many US actors, from Timothy Hutton in Ordinary People to Mira Sorvino in Mighty Aphrodite, who've failed to trump their Oscar successes.

Still, even if an Oscar doesn't open up the brave new world of opportunity that its recipient may have imagined, we're not quite talking poisoned chalices here. Ask any of the award winners if they'd like to give their statuette back and it's a fair prediction that the response will be a very resolute "no". Whatever the subsequent hangover, the euphoria and sense of making history will have been compensation enough. Who cares what happens next?

Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010

GlastonburyWI to make debut appearance at Somerset festival

Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister

TV reviewIt has taken seven episodes for Game of Thrones season five to hit its stride

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Jesuthasan Antonythasan as Dheepan

FilmPalme d'Or goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head

Arts and Entertainment
Måns Zelmerlöw performing

Arts and Entertainment
Graham Norton was back in the commentating seat for Eurovision 2015

Arts and Entertainment
Richard Hammond, Jeremy Clarkson and James May on stage

Arts and Entertainment
The light stuff: Britt Robertson and George Clooney in ‘Tomorrowland: a World Beyond’
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
'Youth' cast members Paul Dano, Jane Fonda, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, and Michael Caine pose for photographers at Cannes Film Festival
Arts and Entertainment
Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward and Robin in the 1960s Batman TV show

Arts and Entertainment
I am flute: Azeem Ward and his now-famous instrument
Arts and Entertainment
A glass act: Dr Chris van Tulleken (left) and twin Xand get set for their drinking challenge
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
MIA perform at Lovebox 2014 in London Fields, Hackney

Arts and Entertainment
Finnish punk band PKN hope to enter Eurovision 2015 and raise awareness for Down's Syndrome

Arts and Entertainment
William Shakespeare on the cover of John Gerard's The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes

Arts and Entertainment

Game of Thrones review
Arts and Entertainment
Grayson Perry dedicates his Essex home to Julie

Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treat

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the original Swedish version of the sci-fi TV drama ‘Real Humans’
Arts and Entertainment
Hugh Keays-Byrne plays Immortan Joe, the terrifying gang leader, in the new film
filmActor who played Toecutter returns - but as a different villain in reboot
Arts and Entertainment
Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

    The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

    How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
    Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

    Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

    'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
    Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

    Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

    How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
    Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

    Art attack

    Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
    Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

    Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

    Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
    Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

    'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

    Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
    10 best wedding gift ideas

    It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

    Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
    Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

    Paul Scholes column

    With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
    Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

    Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

    Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
    Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

    Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

    The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
    Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

    Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

    For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
    Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

    Fifa corruption arrests

    All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
    Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

    The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

    In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
    How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

    How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

    Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
    Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

    How Stephen Mangan got his range

    Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor