12 actors who might have been struck by the 'Oscar Curse'

  • Winning an Oscar is supposed to be the peak of one’s career, as well as open doors to bigger and better projects.
  • However, these 12 actors and actresses might attest to it having had the opposite effect.
  • Winner Marcia Gay Harden even called winning “disastrous on a professional level.”

The 2019 Academy Awards will air on February 24, after a long and sometimes tedious awards season. While there are some films and actors we at INSIDER believe were snubbed, perhaps they should be thanking their lucky stars.

According to Organisation Science magazine, the “Oscar Curse” is “the colourful belief that misfortune paradoxically befalls Academy Award winners.” Though the magazine did not find evidence of said curse, these 12 actors might disprove those findings.

Actress Halle Berry won a Razzie (awards for the worst in film) just a few years after getting her Best Actress Oscar, and following his Best Actor win for “Jerry Maguire,” Cuba Gooding Jr. went on to star in movies like “Snow Dogs,” which earned a 24% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.


Cuba Gooding Jr. won an Oscar for “Jerry Maguire” in 1997, and has since been nominated for four Razzies.

Mike Coppola/Getty ImagesCuba Gooding Jr. in 2018.

Gooding Jr. had a bit of a career resurgence in 2016 due to his role as O.J. Simpson in “American Crime Story,” but for more than a decade he was mainly known for comedy flops and direct-to-video movies. He was in nearly 20 of them from 2005 to 2013.

Films post-Oscar win include “Snow Dogs,” which earned a 24% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and “What Love Is,” which got a 15% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.


Kim Basinger won in 1997 for “L.A. Confidential.” Now, she’s best known for her role in the “Fifty Shades of Grey” franchise.

Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic via Getty ImagesKim Basinger in 2017.

Basinger’s lone Academy Award nomination and win came over 20 years ago for her role in “L.A. Confidential.” It was also the last time she was nominated for any major award. She’s since appeared in films like “Fifty Shades Darker,” which earned a 12% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.


Halle Berry is the first and only black woman to win the Best Actress Oscar for her performance in 2001’s “Monster’s Ball.” She accepted a Razzie three years later.

Berry’s breakthrough win at the 2002 ceremony was a win for diversity in the film industry, as she was the first black woman to win for best actress for her role as Leticia Musgrove in “Monster’s Ball.”

She then took part in the “X-Men” franchise, but roles like the one in “Catwoman” were critically panned. In fact, “Catwoman”won her a Razzie for Worst Actress in 2004.

Berry, for her part, has said her Oscar win “meant nothing” in the context of diversity, since a woman of colour has not won the award since.


Adrien Brody became the youngest person to win the Oscar for Best Actor in 2003, but hasn’t won a significant acting award since.

Pascal Le Segretain/Getty ImagesAdrien Brody in 2017.

Brody was just 29 years old when he accepted his Academy Award for his performance in “The Pianist” – remember when he kissed Halle Berry on stage?

But since then, the actor hasn’t been able to replicate his success. He followed up his win with a role in the musical comedy “The Singing Detective,” which has a mediocre 39% on Rotten Tomatoes.

He’s appeared in multiple movies ranging from video on demand to box office successes, but he’s never been praised for his acting in the same way.


Renée Zellweger won her Oscar on her third nomination in 2004, and her career may have declined since.

JB Lacroix/ Getty ImagesRenée Zellweger in 2017.

Zellweger was one of the biggest stars in Hollywood, but after her Oscar win in 2004 for “Cold Mountain,” quality offers might have dwindled.

She appeared in the sequel to “Bridget Jones’s Diary,” and the horror flick “Case 39,” which scored a 21% ranking on Rotten Tomatoes. She then took a six-year hiatus from movies, and returned with another Bridget Jones sequel.


Mercedes Ruehl has been in multiple short films since her 1991 Oscar-winning performance in “The Fisher King.”

Ruehl won the Academy Award, Golden Globe, and Saturn Award for her role in “The Fisher King,” but didn’t have much blockbuster success after. Instead, she focused on her stage career.

She was nominated for two Tony Awards and a Drama Desk Award for her appearances on Broadway in “The Shadow Box” and “The Rose Tattoo.”


Marcia Gay Harden, after winning the 2001 Academy Award for “Pollock,” called winning “disastrous on a professional level.”

Randy Shropshire/Getty Images for Entertainment WeeklyMarcia Gay Harden in 2019.

Harden has been relatively successful after her 2001 win for “Pollock.” She was nominated again, this time for Best Supporting Actress three years later for “Mystic River,” but lost. Since then, she’s had a prolific TV career, and was nominated for two Emmys.

However, Harden herself seems to have confirmed the curse. “The Oscar is disastrous on a professional level,” she told Premiere Magazine soon after her win. “Suddenly the parts you’re offered become smaller and the money less. There’s no logic to it.”


Roberto Benigni followed up his Oscar-winning performance in 1997’s “Life Is Beautiful” with a live-action version of “Pinocchio” that garnered a rare 0% on Rotten Tomatoes.

LOIC VENANCE/AFP/Getty ImagesRoberto Benigni in 2018.

Benigni wrote, directed, and starred in the 1997 film “Life Is Beautiful.” He ended up winning for Best Actor and Best Foreign Film at the 1999 Academy Awards. But since then, he hasn’t had much success in the US.

2002’s “Pinocchio,” which he directed and starred in, was critically panned, with a dismal 0% on Rotten Tomatoes. He hasn’t appeared in anything since 2012’s “To Rome with Love” – though he is slated to star as Gepetto in another upcoming live-action remake of “Pinocchio.”


Mo’Nique has been critical of Hollywood after her 2010 win for “Precious.”

Aaron Poole/E! Entertainment/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty ImagesMo’Nique in 2018.

Mo’Nique played completely against type for her role as the abusive mother in “Precious.” Some thought she would focus on more dramatic material after the win, but she has reverted back to her comedic roles.

She’s only been in three movies since her Oscar, none of which reached the same level of success.

For her part, Mo’Nique believes she was blackballed from the industry after clashing with “Precious” director Lee Daniels and producers Tyler Perry and Oprah Winfrey.


Tatum O’Neal won in 1973 for “Paper Moon” when she was 10 years old.

David Livingston/Getty ImagesO’Neal in 2018.

O’Neal is the youngest competitive winner in the history of the Academy Awards, as she was only 10 years old when she won.

Following her win, her career stalled. She appeared in five films over a period of 15 years, none of which made a big splash in Hollywood. Today, she mainly does cameos and appeared in the Christian film series “God’s Not Dead.”


Haing S. Ngor won for his first-ever film role in “The Killing Fields,” after switching from the field of gynecology to acting in 1984.

Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage via Getty ImagesHaing S. Ngor in 1985.

Ngor’s portrayal of Dith Pran, a Cambodian journalist, in 1984’s “The Killing Fields” earned him a Best Supporting Actor statue, making him the only Asian person to win Best Supporting Actor in their debut performance, the second Asian actor ever to win, and only one of two non-professional actors to win.

Although he earned rave reviews, Ngor didn’t appear in any other Oscar-worthy films.


Marlee Matlin won an Academy Award for her first on-screen role in “Children of a Lesser God,” but mainly stuck to television after.

Her first movie part was in “Children of a Lesser God,” which she won the Oscar for in 1987 – a rare feat. She was the first deaf actress to be nominated for an Academy Award.

But 20 years later, Matlin’s most recognisable roles are her TV parts, like Joey Lucas in “The West Wing,” or her stint on “Dancing with the Stars.” The parts for deaf actors are still, frustratingly, few and far between.

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