To win an Academy Award seems to be the highlight and accolade most actors and actresses vie for. To be recognised by your peers and have “Academy Award Winner” next to your name in trailers and posters can be enough to guarantee a career boost. However, some careers don’t get that instant push. In fact, some careers seem to falter after their Oscar win and never really manage to reach those dizzying heights again. For example;
Adrien Brody is fantastic in The Pianist. It is a powerhouse performance which requires both a mental and physical change. After winning the Oscar in 2002, Brody’s career never really lived up to the Oscar hype. He never chose a great dramatic performance but instead bounced from strange career decisions, including forgettable art-house or even action movies.
Witherspoon deserved the Oscar for Walk the Line but her career didn’t then involve tons of great movie roles which equalled her earlier success. She seemed to disappear into the wilderness, making the odd movie appearance, including Mud or terrible Hot Pursuit.
Nicholas Cage’s career hasn’t suffered of course, it is just not exactly the career of an Oscar winner. An early win in his career could have carved out a very different route but Cage went for fun over substance and made a slew of action movies, strange straight-to-video trash and the occasional dramatic performance to keep us recognising his earlier talent.
Hilary Swank’s career started very dramatic and serious and then devolved into little more than passable. Boys Don’t Cry and Million Dollar Baby both showed her acting talents and after winning the biggest prize in movies twice, she seemed to shy away from the heavyweight roles, instead making forgettable horrors like The Reaping or The Resident.
If you need a dependable British actor who will transform into a role, hire Daniel Day Lewis. If you can’t afford Daniel Day Lewis, Jeremy Irons can do the job too. His Oscar win was the career highlight and aside from villain duties in a Die Hard sequel, he never made that “one movie” which defined his career. A shame for a very good and well respected actor.
When Berry won the Oscar for Monster’s Ball, it felt like big things were happening. The first, and only, African-American actress to win the award, she seemed to be moving on to bigger and better things. Some poor movie choices stalled her career though, with a new superhero direction in films like X-Men and Catwoman putting an end to any signs of her Oscar glory.
Cher, singer and occasional actress, won the Oscar for her performance in Moonstruck. Needless to say, it hardly launched a credible movie career and she never gave a performance close to Oscar worthy, or even generally worthy, again.
Overall, 7 examples of careers which didn’t benefit from that Oscar win. It goes to show that having “Academy Award Winner” next to your name does not necessarily equal fame and glory after all.