An actor’s dream is winning an Oscar at the Academy Awards. The award opens doors for actors, and they’ll be given choice parts in critically-acclaimed roles or in blockbuster films and franchises that will give them even greater visibility. Or at least that’s what’s supposed to happen, for there seems to be an Academy Awards curse. Specifically, the fact that actors disappear from the spotlight and find it hard to win back the fame they had after winning an Oscar.
When have we last seen Cuba Gooding, Jr. in a prominent starring role after winning a Best Supporting Actor in 1996? Do people, above all millennials, even know who he is? And what about Natalie Portman? She won an Oscar for Black Swan in 2010 and was reportedly taking a break after that movie to be with her new husband and to give birth to her first son. Over five year later, Portman has not been able to repeat her success and has flown under the radar by starring in lackluster films like No Strings Attached with Ashton Kutcher. If you’re having trouble remembering that movie, you’re not alone.So it seems that, after actors win the Oscar, their careers go downhill. They may star in movies, or end up in TV shows, but history shows that they receive no buzz and their work is never seen by a wide audience. The 10 actors we’ll talk about all have won the coveted award and then disappeared into obscurity.
10 Jodie Foster
In 1976, Foster was only a teen when she received an Academy Award nomination for her role as a teenage prostitute in Taxi Driver. As an adult, she continued to find success, winning an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for her lead in the critically-acclaimed The Accused in 1988. In 1991, she once again won both an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for Best Actress in the psychological thriller The Science of the Lambs. But a string of box-office failures followed, and it took 11 years for Foster to gain success again by starring in three successful action thrillers in which she played mostly the same type, a woman who’d do anything to protect her life or her family from outside forces. The first was Panic Room in 2002, followed by Flightplan in 2005, and The Brave One in 2007. After that, Foster became a director and starred in several duds before she disappeared for good.
9 Natalie Portman
8 Halle Berry
7 Charlize Theron
6 Cuba Gooding Jr.
5 Adrien Brody
4 Joe Pesci
3 Helen Hunt
Hunt had a very successful career in the 90s. She starred in the hit, critic-loving TV comedy Mad About You. For that role, Hunt managed to do the impossible: win four consecutive Emmy Awards for Outstanding Lead Actress in 1996, 1997, 1998, and 1999.While still starring on TV, Hunt found success in the film industry by starring in the blockbuster hit Twister (1996) and in the critically-acclaimed As Good as it Gets. For the latter, Hunt won an Oscar for Best Actress in 1998, which means she won an Emmy and an Oscar in the same year, something unheard of in the industry. After the Oscar and the end of Mad About You, Hunt starred in three hit movies — Pay It Forward, What Women Want, and Cast Away — all in the same year (2000). But the Oscar curse took over after that, and it took Hunt 13 years to reemerge from obscurity by starring in 2013’s The Sessions, which garnered her an Oscar and Golden Globe nomination. But fame still eluded Hunt, and basically, since 2000, she’s been flying under the radar.
2 Jennifer Connelly
1 Holly Hunter
Hunter shot to fame in 1987 after being nominated for an Oscar for her role in Broadcast News. But she followed that film with a string of duds, including Steven Spielberg’s Always. It took seven years for Hunter to regain her fame by starring in The Firm and The Piano, both released in 1993. Hunter did what seemed impossible by being nominated for an Oscar twice in the same year for those two films. She was nominated as a Best Supporting Actress for The Firm and won Best Actress for The Piano. After that, the Oscar curse plagued Hunter. She appeared in several unsuccessful films in supporting roles from 1994 to 2003. It took her nine years for her to get back on track after being nominated for Best Supporting Actress for her role in 2003’s Thirteen. While she appeared in the TV series Saving Grace in 2007, Hunter dropped out of the picture when the show ended in 2010.