The Oscars Curse: 8 Actors Whose Career Went Down the Drain After Winning

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Every actor wants to win an Oscar, even though some end up waiting for years, some for decades, while others claim they don't care about it at all.

Adrien Brody

In 2002, Adrien Brody won the Best Actor Academy award, one of the most prestigious nominations, for his work in Roman Polanski's drama The Pianist.

Initially, Brody got offers from a string of high-profile directors, such as Wes Anderson and Woody Allen, but then something went wrong, and movies starring Adrien Brody started flopping at the box office one after another. The films he appeared in were so bad that even a Best Actor Oscar winner like Brody couldn't have saved them. Perhaps, it's for the best that, in recent years, Brody has been primarily working on TV projects rather than appearing in feature films.

Mira Sorvino

Woody Allen has made a lot of films that have won Oscars for their female leads and supporting actresses, and one such actress was Mira Sorvino, whose big break came in 1995 in Allen's Mighty Aphrodite. Sorvino won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for it, and immediately after, she got multiple offers to play lead roles.

The only snag was that none of those offers were for especially good movies. So she starred in a couple of mediocre productions, then disappeared off the face of the earth completely, and is now mostly famous as a #MeToo campaigner who helped put the infamous producer Harvey Weinstein in prison as payback for him ruining her career (according to her version of the story).

Cuba Gooding Jr.

The real breakthrough for Cuba Gooding Jr. was Jerry Maguire. Not only did he gain valuable experience working with stars like Tom Cruise and Renée Zellweger, but he also got the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for it.

It's hard to tell what happened next. It could have been the infamous Oscar curse or Gooding Jr.'s ambitions, but his career went haywire after that. After getting his Best Supporting Actor award, he figured he was now lead material, but every time he got a lead role, he screwed it up. It got so bad he had to accept the offer to appear in Daddy Day Camp, a sequel to the relatively successful Daddy Day Care, which starred Eddie Murphy, who gave Daddy Day Camp a pass.

Cuba Gooding Jr. is now far pickier with roles. However, in recent years he's mostly been praised by critics for his appearances in TV series like Empire and American Crime Story.

Jean Dujardin

Back in his native France, Jean Dujardin was already an established actor when he got cast in the Artist and became world-famous, despite the movie being rather bold and experimental (at least by 21st-century standards). Who'd have thought that someone could win an Oscar in the 21st century for a black-and-white and primarily silent movie? And who would have thought that the actor who got this Oscar would gain literally zilch from it?

Jean Dujardin has an issue that wasn't important in the Artist because he plays a silent role: he has a thick French accent. It was either that or the Oscar curse, but the range of roles he got offered in Hollywood was minimal. So the French actor only has a handful of American films under his belt, and even the Oscar didn't open the door to Hollywood for him.


In 1987, Cher starred in the romantic comedy Moonstruck with Nicolas Cage – and, to the surprise of many, won the Best Actress Oscar for it, proving that in addition to being a gifted singer, she was also a capable actor.

At the time, it seemed like she was about to launch a new successful career in Hollywood, but her Oscar win proved to be but a flash in the pan. Every movie she's appeared in since has been a flop: Mermaids, Faithful, and 2010's Burlesque. Cher's taken the collapse of her movie career in stride, carrying on as a music industry legend and appearing in cameos from time to time just for the lols.

Kim Basinger

Kim Basinger was one of the biggest stars of the 1980s and the early 1990s: even 1990s kids will have heard of her big roles in 9 1/2 Weeks, Batman, Blind Date. Kim never complained about not having enough roles.

What she did complain about was that all her roles were more or less the same: directors and audiences alike saw her first and foremost as eye candy, with the added benefit of some acting skills, which were nice to have but not essential. Director Curtis Lee Hanson saw past Kim's good looks when he cast her in the cult classic L.A. Confidential in 1997. The film capitalised both on Kim's beauty and her acting in equal measure. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences took notice and gave her the Best Supporting Actress award.

Since then, Kim's career has been a story of her trying to prove she was a good actress and failing. The only decent role she's had since was in 8-Mile, where she plays Eminem's character's mother. And once again, it was her old friend Curtis Lee Hanson who cast her.

So her best-supporting actress Oscar didn't help Kim boost her career one bit, these days she only appears in supporting roles and often in rather dubious projects, like Fifty Shades Darker

Mercedes Ruehl

Mercedes Ruehl got the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role in Terry Gilliam's The Fisher King.

But these days, only hard-core movie buffs will remember who she is. In 1992, she got her five minutes in the spotlight when she won that Oscar, but after that, her acting career took a nosedive. She appeared in a string of flops, then got demoted to TV films, and after that, she was relegated to guest starring in TV series. It's been years since she appeared in a feature film.

Roberto Benigni

Writer, director and actor Roberto Benigni is probably one of the most tragic victims of the Oscars curse. In 1999 his Life is Beautiful won three Oscars, including Best Actor for Benigni himself.

After that, Benigni's career went off a cliff: his next project, Pinocchio, only got released in 2002. Benigni once again played the lead role, wrote the script and directed the film. Unlike its predecessor, Pinocchio was a spectacular flop at the box office and got universally panned by critics, ending up with a record Rotten Tomatoes score of 0%. In his native Italy, Benigni made one more film and appeared in minor roles in other movies. And that was that as far as his career was concerned.