In the acting world, no honor tops the Oscar. Unfortunately, reaching the top is no guarantee that you’ll stay there. Winners often have the pick of any role they want but with more freedom comes freedom to make mistakes.
Here are some of the biggest career downturns that happened to actors who took home gold.
Cher – The Winner
Once called the Goddess of Pop, she began to test the waters outside of music. She had supporting turns in films like Mask and Silkwood and in 1988, she won an Oscar for Moonstruck. The singer-turned-actress played a socialite who falls in love with her fiance’s brother. A glittering Hollywood career beckoned.
Cher – The Curse
Post-Moonstruck, her filmography is disappointing. Mermaids, Suspect and Burlesque didn’t exactly set pulses racing and worse, didn’t serve as a good showcase of her abilities. Her rebirth as an actress proved to be short-lived.
Adrien Brody – The Winner
Fresh-faced and loaded with talent, most filmgoers were first introduced to Brody in Terrance Malick’s The Thin Red Line. In 2002, he starred in the World War 2 drama The Pianist. The Academy was wowed by a restrained but deeply emotional performance and bestowed on him the coveted Best Picture Oscar.
Adrien Brody – The Curse
Afterwards, Brody hopped on Wes Anderson’s quirky ride, appearing in films like The Darjeeling Limited and Grand Budapest Hotel. Other than that, he has had a string of flops (Predators, The Experiment) and oddities (the China/Hollywood Gladiator rip-off Dragon Blade). It’s disappointing to see a man of such enormous ability going to waste.
Renee Zellweger – The Winner
Zellweger had built up steam through supporting roles in Jerry McGuire and Bridget Jones’ Diary. This culminated in her win for 2003’s Cold Mountain in which she played the scenery chewing mountain woman Ruby Thewes. Her win remains controversial to this day, with many dismissing her performance as over-the-top.
Renee Zellweger – The Curse
Possibly sensing period pieces were her good luck charms, she appearing in the Western Appalosa and two films set in the 1920’s: Leatherheads and Cinderella Man. Neither met with much success and Zellweger went on a self-imposed six-year sabbatical. Recently, she returned to her most famous character in Bridget Jones’ Baby, which came and went without much fanfare. She’s also set to star in The Same Kind of Different as Me from Pure Flix, a faith-based studio not renowned for its quality output.
Kim Basinger – The Winner
A natural beauty, Basinger was frequently cast in roles that relied on her sex appeal such as 9½ Weeks and Blind Date. This made her a perfect choice for the femme-fatale in Curtis Hanson’s neo-noir L.A. Confidential. It was an immediately acclaimed performance for which she won the Oscar for Best Actress.
Kim Basinger – The Curse
Desperate to break away from the bombshell roles, Basinger chose projects that put her talents as a serious actor front and centre. This proved disastrous, starting a string of duds like Bless This Child and I Dreamed of Africa. Her last high-profile role was in Fifty Shades Darker and I think we can all agree that no-one deserves that.
Roberto Benigni – The Winner
A superstar in his home country of Italy, Benigni received worldwide acclaim for his heart-breaking performance in Life is Beautiful. Oscar glory was to follow and Benigni was overwhelmed and exuberant. “This is the moment of joy, and I want to kiss everybody because you are the major of the joy, and he who kisses the joy as it flies lives in eternity’s sunrise, say the poet.”
Roberto Benigni – The Curse
One word: Pinocchio. With his new-found clout, he wrote, directed and starred as the wooden boy himself in a 2002 live-action remake. The film performed atrociously at the US box office and received the legendary 0% on Rotten Tomatoes. Benigni has been largely quiet ever since.
Cuba Gooding Jr. – The Winner
Until recently, Gooding Jr. was a frequent appearance on “Where Are They Now?” lists. He rode a winning streak from Boyz N the Hood to A Few Men to the film that would win him the Oscar: Jerry McGuire. For his supporting role as Cardinal wide receiver Rod Tidwell, Cuba brought home gold, though not before delivering a memorable Oscar speech.
Cuba Gooding Jr. – The Curse
Eager to move from supporting to main, he starred in a series of embarrassing duds. Snow Dogs, Boat Trip and (shudder) Daddy Day Camp; he fell from grace with a loud splat. Gooding Jr. has been attempting course correction in recent years, giving stellar performances in The People v. O. J. Simpson and Best Picture nominee Selma. Whether he’ll keep this up is unclear but he definitely has the talent to be a star again.
Jean Dujardin – The Winner
Before The Artist, Dujardin was an unknown outside of his native France. The black-and-white silent film throwback was the perfect vehicle for him. He had that old Hollywood look and tapped into the physical style that defined that era of cinema.
Jean Dujardin – The Curse
Dujardin’s post-Oscar career has never come close to regaining the heights of The Artist. His thick French accent has likely limited the range of roles he is offered, an issue his silent performance had conveniently side-stepped. He appeared in a small role in The Wolf of Wall Street as well as George Clooney flop The Monuments Men.