Apparently, people who win Oscars do not necessarily flourish. This surprises because the old model was clear. The actor who wins an Oscar was supposed to be set for life, the beneficiary of more and better scripts, climbing salaries, and augmented stardom.
A new pattern has emerged. People win Oscars and nothing much happens. Not new scripts. Not higher salaries. Not more stardom.
Adrien Brody and Diane Keaton are, apparently, two cases in point. Neither profited from their recent Oscar wins. Of course, there could be a local explanation here. After all, Brody chose to turn his acceptance speech into the most pious, self righteous, self dramatizing performance anyone could remember and Hollywood is a town filled with people inclined to give pious, self righteous, and self dramatizing performances at the drop of a hat.
And Diane Keaton’s performance in the Oscar auditorium was, well, ditzy. Not in that kooky, isn’t-she-utterly-charming, Annie Hall way. No, Keaton dithered in a way that made many of us wonder "how on earth does this woman manage to dress herself in the morning?" and I am pretty certain it moved some producers to scribble "do not hire DK!!!" in the corner of their programs. Ironically, these two may have used the Oscar occasion to cancel out the benefits of the Oscar win. They brought Oscar disappointment upon themselves.
For the rest of them, it’s not so clear. I have an explanation. It doesn’t work for the short term, really. (And explanations for the short term are here eagerly solicited.) But I think it might apply in the long term, looking out, say, 20 years.
My suspicion, in a truly dynamic culture, we may see short term success as something that disqualifies the victor from future engagements. We will say, "we know that this culture changes so quickly and so dramatically that what succeeds at the moment cannot be the thing that will succeed in the long term. We can’t know with any certainty what will succeed but we can say with certainty it won’t be this."
Is this fair? Does this not break the very "success logic" out of which careers are build. This says, any success is desirable success because small successes become the foundation for larger successes. The notion here is that we "fibonacci" our way out of obscurity, as the whole becomes a part of a larger whole which becomes a part…
In the new model, we will have to choose our moment of success with some care. We will also called upon to transform ourselves (or our brands) at the end of each successful engagement. We might even want to use the Oscar podium (or other awards ceremony) to offer a kind of show trial recantation. "I deeply regret for this persona that brought me this reward, and I want to reassure the Academy and the producers in the audience that I mean to rehabilitate myself as quickly as possible. I have signed in to the Betty Ford clinic for actors in transition and I expect to be new born in 6 weeks."
On the other hand, this may be the "consolation of philosophy" for someone who does not expect stardom or Oscars ever to cross his path. It is also precisely the sort of thing you would expect a Canadian to hope for.