03/11/2014 05:03 pm ET Updated Mar 11, 2014

9 Film Stars Who Could Learn From The McConaissance

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The McConaissance is officially in full swing and we can think of more than a few actors and actresses who could learn from the Oscar winner's newfound career revival.

Matthew McConaughey's searing turn in "Dallas Buyers Club" and celebrated role in "True Detective" provide the framework for stars whose A-list status isn't enough to earn them critical credibility. Our pals at Entertainment Weekly named a few, but we've got a handful of other actors who are due for their own cultural rebirth, so to speak:

  • Adam Sandler
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    The most obvious plea for career guidance goes to Sandler, who seems to earn a Razzie nomination for just about every movie he makes. The supposed funnyman had a shot in 2003 with Paul Thomas Anderson's celebrated dramedy "Punch Drunk Love," but his few other attempts have been bookended by tripe. (2007's "Reign Over Me," for example, arrived between "Click" and "I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry." It doesn't get more disastrous than that.) Because he doesn't have the same charming idiosyncrasies that McConaughey does, what Sandler needs are some comedic roles in dramas that refine his sensibilities instead of exhaust them. If Jason Reitman can bounce back from the disaster that was "Labor Day," perhaps he can direct Sandler to success in "Men, Women & Children," in which he'll star opposite Emma Thompson, Jennifer Garner and Judy Greer.
  • Meg Ryan
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    When Ryan made a bold romantic-comedy departure in 2003's "In the Cut," all anyone talked about were her explicit sex scenes. It's a shame our palate for Ryan was limited, but she should have taken a cue from Julia Roberts' "Erin Brockovich" rebound before attempting to get all Oscar on us. This former America's sweetheart hasn't really bounced back since. What she needs now is, well, a role. She hasn't made a movie since 2009, instead electing to spend time with her family. We're hopeful that TV will be the source of her comeback. Ryan is set to star in an NBC sitcom in which she'll play a single mother who returns to the work at a publishing house years after she left her post as a respected editor.
  • Gwenyth Paltrow
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    This is a tough one. Paltrow doesn't need a career resurgence as much as she does damage control on her image. As Vanity Fair pointed out during that whole cover story debacle, it's hard to pinpoint why we're so down on Paltrow. Offscreen likability aside, she hasn't made a memorable non-Marvel film since "The Royal Tenenbaums" in 2001. What she needs is not a standard comedy-to-drama reinvention; in fact, she could stand to do the opposite. We know Paltrow can do pulpy melodrama ("Sylvia," "Country Strong") and poor attempts at humor ("View from the Top"), but she needs something that's quirky and original -- something that writes her as a comedian, because it'll take a lot to buy her in a drama. Somehow we think this year's Johnny Depp-fronted Nazi caper "Mortdecai" won't quite get her there.
  • Renee Zellweger
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    Oh, how far they fall. Zellweger was one of Hollywood's most sought-after actresses when she made a string of Oscar-nominated hits that included "Bridget Jones's Diary," "Chicago," "Cold Mountain" and "Cinderella Man." In choosing roles like "Leatherheads" and "New in Town," she stonewalled herself against any sort of critical love. In the years since, Zellweger seemed to become more known for her appearance than her resume. What she needs is another scene-stealing supporting role through which she endears herself to us again. (Maybe as a tongue-in-cheek Botox addict?) We need to know that she's aware of her image in the press. For now, we'll have to settle for the courtroom drama "The Whole Truth," which was recently announced as her first movie in four years.
  • John Travolta
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    After he learns how to read a teleprompter, Travolta can try out some scripts that are better than "The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3" and the upcoming Gummy Bear movie. To his credit, his next "Pulp Fiction" could come in 2015 when he takes the lead in a John Gotti biopic. Until then, we'll just be avoiding airings of "Old Dogs" and "Wild Hogs."
  • Kevin Kline
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    We can all agree Kline's wonderful turn in "In & Out" was snubbed for Best Actor and that his portrayal of Cole Porter in "De-Lovely" is, in fact, lovely. Beyond that, the 66-year-old vet, whose best roles remain parts in "Sophie's Choice" and "A Fish Called Wanda," should seek indie dramedies that are uniquely his. Two of his counterparts, Alfred Molina and John Lithgow, are doing just that in this year's Ira Sachs-directed romance "Love is Strange." He needs something unconventional like that.
  • Kate Hudson
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    As evidenced by the stunning photo above from last week's Oscars, it's not that Hudson's career is really suffering. Instead, Hudson should repurpose the redundant energy she's emitted throughout much of the past decade. We know her talent is immense: Her Oscar-nominated performance in "Almost Famous" is one of the best things about that movie, and she consistently rises above the subpar scripts that plague most of her rom-coms. But she needs something weird. That's what made Penny Lane work -- she was eccentric, and Hudson's charm wasn't lost in a trite rom-com script. Let's get her in a zany "Little Miss Sunshine"-esque comedy or a sleek "Revolutionary Road"-esque drama. It sounds like some of her upcoming projects -- "Born to be King," helmed by "Getting On" director Peter Capaldi, and Zach Braff's "Wish I Was Here" -- could be a step in right direction.
  • Winona Ryder
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    We forgave Ryder her shoplifting sins years ago, yet she still hasn't had a mainstream successful since 2002 (and that was for "Mr. Deeds," so already we're proceeding with caution). The thing is that she's incredibly talented -- like, two-time-Oscar nominee talented. Those nominations were for roles in "The Age of Innocence" and "Little Women," so sign this lady up for another adaptation of classic literature.
  • Eddie Murphy
    We know Murphy's talents supersede "Norbit," but then he makes "Meet Dave" and "Tower Heist" and we aren't so sure anymore. Still, he did wow us in "Dreamgirls" (he so deserved that Oscar), and comedies like "Trading Places" and "Beverly Hills Cop" are gems. He can reprise that reputation if he chooses. Emphasis on if he chooses.