An Oscar is a glorious thing, but once in a while it comes with a big mass of contradictory bad vibes attached. The Oscar certainly didn’t seem to help Nicolas Cage, F. Murray Abraham, Haing S. Ngor, Jennifer Hudson, Forest Whitaker, Jennifer Connelly or Dorothy Malone that much. Still, I desperately want one! While I’m campaigning for it, let me run down the 10 saddest cases where the Oscar curse rained on someone’s parade.
Cuba Gooding Jr.
The Bronx-born actor won Best Supporting Actor for 1996’s “Jerry Maguire,” making his signature line “Show me the money” into a catchphrase for the ages. But strangely, they stopped showing him the money. He had a part in the next year’s “As Good As It Gets,” but then things became rather spotty, littered with disastrous journeys to nowhere like “Boat Trip” and “Norbit.” Fortunately, Cuba is picking up steam again, thanks to a part on Broadway, a role in “Selma” and a TV miniseries about O.J. Simpson.
The first Frenchie to win the Oscar for Best Actor, Dujardin oozed charm and talent in 2011’s “The Artist” (which also won Best Picture). But it appears to have been le fluke. Yes, Jean had roles in “The Wolf of Wall Street” and “The Monuments Men” after that, but his English is still a bit awkward, and he seems better suited to cinema generated by his own country right now. Je suis desole!
The comic and talk show host won Best Supporting Actress for her ferocious turn as a truly scary ghetto mama in 2009’s “Precious.” It seemed like that achievement would galvanize her film career and make her one of the top talents on the big screen. But she’s only made one movie since then — a small drama called “Blackbird!” Mo’Nique has said that she wants to do the life story of Hattie McDaniel, who happened to be another Supporting Actress winner who didn’t get to soar. African-Americans are simply not given equal opportunities in the biz.
Kim’s sultry turn in 1997’s “L.A. Confidential” nabbed her Best Supporting Actress, but Alec Baldwin probably ended up rejoicing when the follow-through fell through. She appeared in turkeys like “I Dreamed of Africa” and “Cellular,” the only respite being a turn as Eminem’s alcoholic mom in the 2002 winner “8 Mile.”
In 1976, Louise was named Best Actress for her chilling turn as the evil Nurse Ratched in “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest.” It was really a supporting performance, but it was a weak year for actresses, so she landed in the lead category and even soared above the bunch. But she then got typed as baddies and crazies in far lesser films. Louise turned up in stuff like “Exorcist II: The Heretic” and “Grizzly II: The Predator,” as well as two camp classics, “Flowers in the Attic” and “Two Moon Junction.” But she also did TV and kept working, especially whenever Ellen Burstyn wasn’t available, LOL.
The first person to win multiple acting Oscars — and she got them consecutively — Luise knew that kind of achievement was going to cause problems. After grabbing the gold for “The Great Ziegfeld” in 1936 and “The Good Earth” in 1937, “the Viennese teardrop” realized that “nothing worse could have happened to me.” What followed were too high expectations from the public, bad film offers from Hollywood and iffy advice from hubby Clifford Odets. In a matter of moments, she was right back to Europe. She died last year at 104, probably of shame because she once did “The Love Boat.”
Unlike Luise Rainer, who suffered from the one-two punch of consecutive Oscars, Hilary had to endure the Oscar curse through two separate periods. The ex-starlet from “The Next Karate Kid” and “Beverly Hills, 90210” was extraordinary in 1999’s searing gender study “Boys Don’t Cry,” for which she was a “duh” Oscar winner. But no one knew what to do with Hilary’s offbeat talent, so she ended up in “The Gift,” “The Affair of the Necklace,” “11:14,” “The Core” and “Red Dust.” She stunned everyone with another revelatory performance in 2004’s “Million Dollar Baby,” copping her second Oscar. But again, Hollywood was confused and put her in “Black Dahlia,” “The Reaping,” “Amelia” and “New Year’s Eve.” Good actress, bad movies. This year’s “The Homesman” was well done, but her character went kaput, as did the movie’s box office.
A revelation in 2001’s “Monster’s Ball,” Halle became the first black woman to win Best Actress. That was historic, but what followed were a very solid franchise film (“X-Men”), but also a batch of weirdies and/or stinkers (“Gothika,” “Catwoman”). Halle never again nabbed anything even vaguely approaching that Oscar glow.
A red-hot career reached its apex with 2002’s Best Picture, “Chicago,” though Renee lost out on the Best Actress trophy. But the Oscars are very good at making up for possible grievances, so the next year, they gave her a Supporting Actress honor for “Cold Mountain.” And that was it! Her career went as cold as the mountain! “Cinderella Man,” “Miss Potter” and the “Bridget Jones” sequel comprised a three-strikes-you’re-out situation, and in 2010, “My Own Love Song” didn’t even come out. It took Renee five years to even make another film.
Adrien is the youngest Best Actor Winner ever — he was a mere 29 when he bagged the prize for the 2002 holocaust drama “The Pianist.” And the guy earned it, having lost weight, sacrificed and learned classical piano. But after his famous smooch of presenter Halle Berry upon winning, he seemed to catch her career ennui. He starred in huge disappointments like “The Village,” “King Kong” and “Hollywoodland,” and even his movies with stuff to recommend them — like “The Darjeeling Limited” and “Cadillac Records” — weren’t exactly box-office smashes. Adrien was certainly aiming high — he was anxious to play the Joker in “The Dark Knight” and Spock in “Star Trek” — but he kept being accorded the role of well-intentioned runner-up. Fortunately, things started upswinging again with a featured role as Dali in “Midnight in Paris,” and now “The Grand Budapest Hotel” is reaping awards, so maybe Oscar curses can actually be challenged after a few years. Maybe.
Michael Musto is a contributing journalist for TheBlot Magazine.