Most people in the world dream of being a Hollywood actor. The chance to work in movies, and of course the lifestyle that comes with it, has fuelled people for years. However, the glitz and the glamour of movies is a difficult industry to get into and only a select few can make a career out of the movie business.
Once these people have cracked Hollywood and made millions of dollars and have a string of adoring fans, how else do they monitor their successful career? The Academy Awards. The Oscars are awarded each year to the best actors around and for many of those actors, it’s the pinnacle and high point of their careers, if not their lives. However, winning an Oscar doesn’t guarantee that you have made it in Hollywood. Many actors use their Oscar win to further their career and to continue making great movies. Then there are actors that do the opposite and after they win an Oscar, they just seem to say yes to any role that comes along. With this list we look at 15 actors that made terrible movies after winning an Oscar.
15. Reese Witherspoon – Penelope
Reese Witherspoon is an actress that had been slowly making a name for herself as a talented and watchable actress for years. With her early roles in movies such as Legally Blonde and Sweet Home Alabama, Witherspoon was quickly becoming the new American Sweetheart. In 2005, Witherspoon took this one step further when she stole the screen in the Johnny Cash biopic Walk The Line. Wowing critics and audiences, Witherspoon quite rightly walked away with the Best Actress Oscar for her portrayal of Cash’s wife, June.
However, not long after her career defining movie, Witherspoon showed up in Penelope. In the point in her career in which Witherspoon could have chosen any movie and any role, she decided to do a movie where, not only was she the supporting character, but a movie that was a romantic comedy in which the leading lady had a pig nose. It was not a smart choice by Witherspoon.
14. Halle Berry – Catwoman
Our next entry is not only a successful and popular leading lady, but she is still the only black woman to win a Best Actress Oscar. Halle Berry has starred in some of the biggest and most popular movies in recent years and this was rewarded with the now history-making Oscar win for her movie Monster’s Ball.
However, since that famous Oscar win, Berry’s career and movie choices haven’t been great. To be honest we could have chosen a few movies that Berry did immediately after her Oscar win; Die Another Day and Gothika both spring to mind. But it’s her ill fated Catwoman movie that many people put down as one of the worst movies ever made. The movie did so poorly that Berry’s career has never really recovered from it.
13. Nicolas Cage – Con Air
Our next entry could be a bit controversial with both the movie and the actor. Throughout modern Hollywood, not many actors create such a “love him or hate him” vibe as much as Nicolas Cage does. Some will say that he is one of the most talented actors working today and others will walk out of the movie theatre if he shows up on screen. There’s no denying that Cage can make a great movie, Raising Arizona, Adaptation, and Leaving Las Vegas, for which he won his Oscar, are all proof that Cage can act.
Then there are the movies such as The Wicker Man remake, Moonstruck, and of course, Con Air. Many people may say that his action movies, Con Air in particular, are fun and enjoyable movies that shouldn’t be taken too seriously, which is true, but when you see Cage in a truly great movie then we get annoyed that he constantly does these mediocre action romps.
12. Kate Winslet – Movie 43
Kate Winslet had been knocking on the Oscar’s door for so many years after having starring turns in movies such as Heavenly Creatures, Sense and Sensibility, Titanic, Iris, Finding Neverland, the list goes on and on. But with each popular movie she made, Winslet seemed to just miss out on her Oscar. That is until 2008, when she won Best Actress for her role in The Reader. After finally winning her Oscar, what does Winslet do next? The truly terrible comedy Movie 43.
Movie 43 boasts an impressive cast with Winslet, Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Gerard Butler, and Richard Gere to name just a few. However, the cast really can’t save this sketch comedy movie and Winslet’s scene in particular is one of the worst. Her sketch sees her on a date with Jackman’s character, who has actual testicles hanging from his chin. It’s as bad as it sounds.
11. Adrien Brody – The Village
One of the youngest actors ever to win a Best Actor Oscar, Adrien Brody was only 29 when he scooped up the Oscar for the movie The Pianist. Before his Oscar win, Brody was known for his high talent but also for taking roles that weren’t considered mainstream. Brody started to build up quite a reputation in Hollywood for sticking to his artistic integrity.
Then came the Oscar win and Brody seemed to forget this when he took a role in M. Night Shyamalan‘s The Village. The movie itself sparked the downfall of Shyamalan as a director and after his early big hits such as Sixth Sense, fans started to get tired of his twists and style. Brody unfortunately became a victim of this as he hasn’t been seen in too many movies lately. A better role choice after his Oscar win probably would have pushed him into Hollywood superstardom, but he went with The Village and paid the price.
10. Hilary Swank – The Reaping
Next we come to a two-time Oscar winning actress, and proof that winning two Oscars can’t save you from making bad choices. Having won an army of critics, fans, and Oscars for her roles in Boys Don’t Cry and Clint Eastwood‘s Million Dollar Baby, it seemed like there wasn’t anything Swank couldn’t do and couldn’t make a success of. So after her second Oscar win Swank turned her attention to the horror genre.
Although the horror genre can be successful, and even win Oscars (Silence of the Lambs and The Exorcist spring to mind), it also can be a difficult genre to get a lot of mainstream attention. But given the success Swank had already achieved, could she be the one to give this genre some gravitas? The short answer is no. The Reaping wasn’t just a bad horror movie, it was a bad movie period and unfortunately Swank’s career is still struggling to get over it.
9. Colin Firth – Main Street
Colin Firth has had some considerable success in Hollywood over the years. Not just content with being a romantic lead in the likes of Pride and Prejudice and The Bridget Jones movies, Firth likes to push himself as an actor from time to time and show up in something different. Whether it’s romance, action (such as Kingsman: The Secret Service), or drama (such as The King’s Speech, for which he won his Oscar), Firth likes to surprise us and stretch himself as an actor.
However, immediately after his Oscar success for The King’s Speech, Firth showed up in Main Street. You’ll be forgiven if this movie doesn’t mean anything to you as no one seemed to watch it. It was a big box office bomb and critical failure and a real step down and misjudged movie for Firth.
8. Helen Mirren – National Treasure: Book Of Secrets
Another British Oscar winning actor with our next entry, Helen Mirren has had a steady career in the movies for many years now. Her resume is bursting with impressive movies and projects that span decades. Her long overdue Oscar win came from her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II in the aptly named The Queen. The movie shed a lot of light on the British royal family as well as showing the world the true talents of Mirren’s acting.
So how do you follow up an Oscar-winning movie? Mirren’s answer to that question is that you can’t. She’s quoted as saying that you can’t pick a movie based on its potential for Oscar winning, you just have to pick the roles that best suit you. That’s a fair point but does that excuse her from picking the National Treasure sequel? We don’t think so. Both Nicolas Cage and Mirren, both Oscar winners, should have known better.
7. Jared Leto – Suicide Squad
Our next entry goes in the pile of “What were you thinking?!” Jared Leto has built up quite the reputation for his role choices and his method acting. Getting his big break in the TV show My So Called Life, Leto went from strength to strength when he made the leap to movies. Starring in the cult classic Requiem for a Dream, Leto finally won his Oscar for his part in The Dallas Buyers Club. With all that success and respect on his shoulders, Leto could have done anything. What he chose to do was ruin a much loved character.
There are so many things that we could say about the Suicide Squad movie, everything that it could have been and everything that it should have been, but the main problem and failure with this movie unfortunately falls at Leto’s feet. Trying so hard to best Heath Ledger‘s take on The Clown Prince of Crime ultimately destroyed the movie and we’ll just have to wait and see if Leto can come back from this.
6. Jeff Bridges – Tron: Legacy
Jeff Bridges is a man that has been on the edge of Oscar success for so many years. Being nominated for an Oscar six times in the movies The Last Picture Show, Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, Starman, The Contender, True Grit, and Hell or High Water, Bridges was finally acknowledged for his talents in the movie Crazy Heart and many people felt is was a long overdue Oscar. As well as starring in a string of Oscar nominated movies, Bridges is also known for starring in cult classics such as The Big Lebowski and even the original Tron movie.
However, right after his Oscar win, Bridges decided to go back and revisit his Tron movie and come out with Tron: Legacy. We’re not saying the movie is bad (although it really is!), but for a successful actor who has just finally won the Oscar he deserved, going back to reboot a movie that no one really wanted was a poor choice for an otherwise excellent actor.
5. Daniel Day-Lewis – Nine
Our next entry is an actor that has not only won three Oscars for a leading role, which no other actor has done, but he is also an actor that many people will say is the greatest of his generation. Daniel Day-Lewis has become synonymous with his method acting and choosing his roles very carefully. Winning his Oscars for My Left Foot, Lincoln, and There Will Be Blood, Lewis seemingly can do no wrong and every performance and movie he is involved in screams Oscar winner.
However, even the best actors out there can make a mistake, and Day-Lewis’ came in the form of Nine. After his Oscar win for There Will Be Blood, Day-Lewis starred as an Italian director that is suffering from writer’s block. The movie sounds bad and pointless, and it is. A big misfire from an otherwise excellent actor and career.
4. Julia Roberts – The Mexican
Setting the world on fire with her breakthrough role in Pretty Woman, Julia Roberts has been one of Hollywood’s most prolific leading ladies for decades. Although she has been involved in some big box office hits, as well as some smaller, critically acclaimed movies, Roberts has only walked away with an Oscar on one occasion, for playing the part of the single mom Erin Brockovich as she takes on the corporate companies. The movie earned her even more respect and admiration.
However, Roberts followed up her Oscar success with The Mexican. Starring alongside Brad Pitt, The Mexican should have been a lot better than it was, especially with the two leading actors. However, a movie about a couple looking for an antique gun didn’t appeal to anyone, and the fact that Roberts and Pitt had zero chemistry together just made this forgotten movie even more forgettable.
3. Forest Whitaker – The Air I Breathe
The Last King of Scotland was many people’s best movie from the last few years. Telling the story of African dictator Idi Amin, the movie was compelling, terrifying, unforgettable and a truly realistic telling of his story. At the centre of this was Forrest Whitaker‘s spectacular performance. Quite rightly, Whitaker walked away with the Oscar that year and it looked like his career would go from strength to strength.
However, the charismatic and talented actor decided to take a strange movie for his next role and appeared in The Air I Breathe. Coming from Korean director Jieho Lee, The Air I Breathe painted characters as emotions from a Chinese proverb with Whitaker being “Happiness.” The movie didn’t work and Whitaker couldn’t make use of his talents and magic to make any difference to the movies failed success.
2. Roberto Benigni – Asterix & Obelix Take On Caesar
You’ll be forgiven if you don’t know too much about our next entry. Not so long ago, Roberto Benigni was becoming a big deal in Hollywood, and that’s largely due to his Oscar performance in the movie Life is Beautiful. Dubbed “The Italian Robin Williams,” Benigni used his talents to tackle the holocaust and it was a great success. However, after having such a career high, Benigni decided to go back to his comedic roots and starred in a movie version of Asterix.
This completely unfunny and disappointing adaptation of the long running Asterix story didn’t even have Benigni playing the title role, he instead opted to play the “over the top” villain. Not content with setting his career back with Asterix, Benigni then came out with a strange version of Pinocchio in which he played Pinocchio. Both movies bombed and Benigni hasn’t really been seen since, we wonder why!
1. Jamie Foxx – Stealth
The number one entry on our list of actors that made a terrible movie after winning an Oscar goes to Jamie Foxx. Many people have actually forgotten that Fox won an Oscar. After a string of bad movies, or less than impressive performances, Fox’s reputation has taken a few hits.
A few years ago Fox was riding high, especially after his Oscar winning performance in Ray. Telling the story of the legend that is Ray Charles, Fox knocked it out of the park to scoop the award. However, not long after that Fox came out with Stealth. Unfortunately for Foxx, this science fiction/action romp has gone down as, not just a terrible movie, but one of the biggest bombs in box office history. Apart from a great turn in Django Unchained, Foxx has struggled to overcome this failure.
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