Awards contenders

la-en-0206-after-the-end2 /// Illustration by Ken Fallin / For The Times. To run in The Envelope 2/6/2014 with an article about movie characters' trajectories after their film stories end. (Ken Fallin / For The Times)

Great films rarely wrap up neatly. The audience is left to ponder what happens next. We at The Envelope couldn't help but wonder if the actors do such pondering as well. They spend so much time figuring out their characters' back stories, how much thought do they give to the after-story? We put the question to a number of actors in some of the season's most compelling films. Warning: Many, many (oh, so many) spoilers lie ahead.

Sally Hawkins: Ginger

"Blue Jasmine"

Story: Jasmine (Cate Blanchett), a fallen socialite with a tenuous grip on sanity, lands at her working-class sister Ginger's home and thoroughly upends her life.

Film ending: As Ginger reunites with the hot-headed boyfriend that Jasmine talked her into dumping, Jasmine moves out, pretending she has somewhere to go.

Hawkins: "When I think about the life beyond the film, and where Ginger goes and where Jasmine goes, it's heartbreaking. I think they don't see each other again. Ginger will always return to this moment, I think, when Jasmine walked out of her life, and she didn't run after her or didn't see, didn't know what to do. And yet Ginger was in her own bubble of giddiness and Champagne, being back with a man who loves her, even though he has no way of dealing with his faults and his bubbling volcano of violence. It's so delicate."

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Chiwetel Ejiofor: Solomon Northup

"12 Years a Slave"

Story: The true story follows Northup, a free black man who is kidnapped and sold into slavery in the pre-Civil War South, fighting to retain his life and his soul as he endures unimaginable torment.

Film ending: Finally able to get word to his friends and family, he is rescued and returns home. He is overwhelmed to see his family and meet his baby grandchild.

Ejiofor: "We do know some of the stuff that happened to him — how he joined the abolitionist movement and put on productions of his book. But then he sort of disappeared. I was hopeful projecting the state of his psychology, though, that he was able to continue his life."

Oscar Isaac: Llewyn Davis

"Inside Llewyn Davis"

Story: A talented, troubled singer-songwriter consistently sabotages his success in the folk scene of 1961 Greenwich Village.

Film ending: Llewyn gets into a surreal loop of trouble for shooting his mouth off as we hear the first moments of a Bob Dylan performance, which will change the folk world forever.

Isaac: "I like to think he went on to teach guitar and find a way to do what he loves. You're seeing someone that is never going to stop doing what's he doing."

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Dermot Mulroney: Steve Huberbrecht

"August: Osage County"