The public loves to generalize, so at first glance, there does seem to be some proof that the dreaded Best Supporting Actress Oscar does come with some apparent baggage.
But it is just that, a vast generalization, and mostly due to the few major star missteps.
There have been many, many winners in that category that have continued on with great careers. Many of them are lesser known or character actors, so I really don’t think their stories apply here.
To tackle this issue on both sides of the spectrum:
Proof That the Curse DOES Exist
1. Mira Sorvino
She won for The Mighty Aphrodite in 1995, and hasn’t really had a major career since. In fact, she’s practically disappeared from the limelight. She starred in the moderate hit Mimic, the comedy with a small cult following Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion, the excellent and underrated film Beautiful Girls (In which she had a small part), and a couple other duds beyond that.
2. Whoopi Goldberg
She was the Oscar for Ghost, and before that was one of the cutting edge comics of her time and starred in a great Spielberg film The Color Purple, however since the win, beyond Sister Act and Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes and films, she really hasn’t excelled in film.
3. Kim Basinger
She won it for L.A. Confidential, however since then, she has done virtually nothing of merit.
4. Jennifer Connelly
She won the award for A Beautiful Mind, however since then we really haven’t seen too much from her in memorable roles, which is a shame because she’s very talented.
5. Rachel Weisz
She won for The Constant Gardener, but since then has never really had any juicy roles or films.
6. Renee Zellweger
She won in 2003 for Cold Mountain, but nothing has really hit since for her.
So apparently the curse is real, right? Just a second…
Proof That the Curse Does NOT Exist
1. Angelina Jolie
She won in ’99 for Girl Interrupted and is now one of the most high profile stars in the world.
2. Cate Blanchett
She won for The Aviator in 2005. She was then nominated for Oscars in 2007 and then twice in the same year of 2008 for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress. She’s still known as one of the greatest actresses of her generation and will likely see Oscar nods again.
I’ll stop there because the truth is, this supposed curse has been talked about since the 80s, but in my eyes, it’s false. First off, because I don’t believe in curses (I say that with my fingers crosses though). Second off, because there are so many different types of context that we aren’t utilizing here.
- Some actresses were character actresses that still work to this day.
- Oscars have never been instant career guarantees.
- Some winners made horrible choices in their roles after the Oscars.
- Some winners likely reached a pinnacle in their career and decided to focus on family and/or decided to take more risky roles, or even fun roles.
- Hollywood hasn’t written a lot of great and outstanding roles for women. Because of this, there are only a select few who even are considered for the great roles that do appear. It’s getting better, but lack of roles still plays a huge part in this.
So there is no curse. There’s just the reality of the film industry. And hope is never lost. Look at Marisa Tomei.
She shocked the world when she won for My Cousin Vinny back in 1993. Then her career faltered for a number of years until she began to resurface. She has since been nominated for Oscars in 2002 and 2008.
And a perfect example of the need to look at the context of things, Anna Paquin won for The Piano in 1993, when she was just 11-years-old. She decided to not jump into the Hollywood fastlane, but years later won the role of Rogue in the X-Men films and went on to star in the hit HBO show True Blood while nabbing a Golden Globe for it as well.
So there is no curse. There’s just the reality of the film industry.
Now, I’ll leave you on this note. The more interesting “curse” in my mind is that of the Best Actress.
- Kate Winslet and Sam Mendes – In 2009, Kate Winslet won the Oscar for Best Actress for The Reader. A year and a week later, the actress announced that her marriage of nearly seven years was officially over.
- Hilary Swank and Chad Lowe – In 2005, Swank won Best Actress for her very notable performance in Million Dollar Baby. 11 months later she separated from her husband Chad Lowe.
- Sandra Bullock and Jesse James – Sandra BullocK won the Oscar for Best Actress back in 2010 for The Blind Side. Nearly two weeks after her win, rumors of James’ infidelity caught fire. Bullock and James had been married for almost five years.
- Charlize Theron and Stuart Townsend – Charlize won Best Actress for Monster, a part she gained nearly 30 lbs for. Less than a year later, she and Townsend split, despite being together for about six years.
- Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Phillipe – Reese was awarded the Oscar back in 2006 for the film Walk the Line based on Johnny Cash’s life and career. After seven years and two children together, Reese and Ryan called it quits later that year.
- Halle Berry and Eric Bennet – In 2002, Halle won for Monsters Ball. In 2003, she and husband of two years, Eric Benet, separated, noted People.
- Julia Roberts and Benjamin Bratt – Roberts won for Erin Brockovich in 2001. She had been dating Bratt for almost three years, but the two ended their romance in June of that year.
Cursed Follow-up roles (Give or take a couple films)
- Helen Hunt – Won in 1997 for As Good As It Gets. Followed by bombs such as Dr. T and the Women and Pay It Forward (I actually love this movie)
- Gwyneth Paltrow – Won in 1998 for Shakespeare in Love, then starred in a somewhat lackluster role in The Talented Mr. Ripley, but really faltered in Duets.
- Halle Berry – Won for Monster’s Ball in 2001, then starred in Gothika and Catwoman.
- Charlize Theron – Won for Monster in 2003, then starred in Aeon Flux shortly after.
- Reese Witherspoon – Won for Walk the Line in 2005, then starred in the terrible Far From Heaven. A lonely landscape architect (Ruffalo) falls for the spirit of beautiful woman (Witherspoon) who used to live in his new apartment.
So are these curses real?