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The Oscar Curse(s)


There is nothing in Hollywood, save for marrying Tom Cruise, that will boost your career more than winning an Academy Award.
That bald gold man ensures “Academy-Award Winning” is attached to your person for perpetuity in movie trailers, on posters, in commercials for probiotic yogurt and most importantly, in contracts—promising at least a 20% increase in your asking price for all future gigs.

Why then, would a young, up-and-coming starlet (let’s call her Anne Hathaway) want to lose out on this embarrassment of riches? Perhaps to save her relationship.

If you’ve never heard of the “Oscar Curse,” let me give you the elevator pitch. It’s a theory that actresses who win the award for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress are much more likely to lose their significant other following the big win.

The curse dates all the way back to 1935 when Claudette Colbert won Best Actress for playing Ellie Andrews in the screwball romantic comedy “It Happened One Night,” opposite Clark Gable. Colbert’s husband at the time was Norman Foster, a journalist turned mediocre actor who would eventually give up the craft to focus on directing. The awards were held on Feb. 27th of 1935 at the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles. By August of that year the pair had split.

The moral of the story is either, 1) don’t win an award at something your husband is bad at; or 2) starring opposite Clark Gable could ruin you for all other men.

Other victims include Joan Crawford, who won Best Actress for her title role in “Mildred Pierce” in 1946. Her husband at the time was the terribly handsome, but sadly meh actor Phillip Terry. The Awards took place on March 7, 1946 and the pair were divorced just a month later.

Jane Wyman won Best Actress in 1949 for her role as a deaf-mute rape victim in “Johnny Belinda.” She split from her husband Ronald Reagan later that year. Luckily Ronnie had other strengths.

More recently audiences have watched as Charlize Theron split from her longtime partner Stuart Townsend in the wake of her 2005 win for “Monster,” Hilary Swank ended her marriage with Chad Lowe after her second Oscar win for “Million Dollar Baby,” Reese Witherspoon filed for divorce from husband Ryan Phillipe after her win for “Walk the Line,” and Sandra Bullock saw her marriage melt down with reality star Jesse James after her 2010 win for “The Blind Side.”

Best Supporting Actresses are not immune. Both Renee Zellweger and Jennifer Hudson split from their longtime loves, Jack White and James Payton respectively, shortly after their Oscar wins.

It’s enough make any newlywed root for Sally Field.

Hathaway was married last September to fellow actor Adam Shulman. Never heard of him? Neither has anyone else. Shulman’s credits include guest spots on “American Dreams” and “The West Wing” and an appearance in what appears to be a straight-to-DVD spinoff of “The Dukes of Hazzard.”

Relationships are hard. They can be harder when two people work in the same industry and share the same dreams and goals. They can be harder still when two people work in the same industry, share the same dreams and goals, and one is consistently gracing the covers of magazines, winning little gold men, and taking calls from Harvey Weinstein.

Naturally, a women looks for someone to have traits that are more muscular than herself. That is not only about the looks and physical strength but also the amount of self-confidence, and being the provider, mentally and financially. The stress is on him to find ways to be the alpha in the relationship,” explains dating and relationship coach Israel Irenstein.

Irenstein notes that one party’s success can lead to a cloying co-dependency that makes the other increasingly unattractive. “If he feels lucky to even be there, then she will lose attraction,” he told me about the worst case scenario for the Hathaway-Shulman union.

There is also the public relations pressure of being with someone who is so much more famous than you are. In real life this can come in the form of people constantly bragging about your spouse’s achievements at a cocktail party and then forgetting your name or your mom asking about your significant other’s awesome job before she asks about your more mundane one.
That kind of outside pressure can be poisonous, and once the relationship develops any kind of adversity that poison may kick in,” Irenstein says.

Unlike the Best Actor awards, which are usually given for a solitary role, the Best Actress awards are often given to a woman who is somehow “having a moment,” wherein her career has reached a serious turning point and there is no going back to the kind of work she did in the past.

Hollywood.com’s Brian Moylan chalks the “Oscar Curse” up to superstition—albeit superstition with a price.
But all superstition is bred from reality. Academy Award wins may not cause a relationship to end, but a relationship has a higher likelihood of suffering when the balance of power is disrupted, i.e. one party becomes hugely successful and the other stagnates.

It doesn’t just happen in Hollywood. More and more women are outshining their men in the professional arena these days. Dr. Gilda Carle, “The Today Show”’s 30-second therapist, says she sees the “Oscar Curse” happen in all walks of life, often leading to the erosion of communication and extramarital affairs to buffer the pain.
Take the married yoga gurus who grew apart once one became a super-guru with their own DVD series and left the other one to teach downward dog to Brooklyn mommies on a Monday afternoon. Or the longtime married lawyers who split when one became partner (she not he).

Elizabeth R., 34, says her relationship with her husband Derek began falling apart after she was promoted above him at the architectural firm where they both worked.
“I wasn’t his boss, but I was making decisions way above his pay-grade,” Elizabeth told me. “It seemed to emasculate him. After awhile we stopped talking about work…and then we stopped talking altogether.”

The only way to prevent a relationship’s derailment is to talk out your feelings and fears,” Dr. Carle explains. “Sadly, few couples—famous and not so famous—choose to do that.”


For film actors and actresses, is there any greater career glory than hoisting an Oscar statue in triumph?

This peer-voted recognition of onscreen excellence that will take place starting with red carpet coverage at 7 p.m. today on ABC (seen locally on WTVG-TV, Channel 13), is a defining moment for Hollywood stars, just as it is for athletes winning the Super Bowl or medaling at the Olympics.

An Academy Award win should portend bigger, better, and brighter years ahead for an actor or actress.

In theory, at least.

In practice, there’s no guarantee of post-Oscar box-office success and industry acclaim. While this phenomenon is often referred to as the Oscar Curse, there’s nothing mystical or devilish about it. A post-Academy Award career flameout can be the result of simple factors such as poor career decisions and audience indifference.

Luise Rainer, the first back-to-back Academy Award winner for The Great Ziegfeld in 1936 and The Good Earth in 1937, is arguably the first Oscar casualty.

Rainer, a Jewish-German actress who emigrated to the United States with the rise of Hitler in the 1930s, signed a seven-year contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and appeared in a handful of films through 1938, but grew disgruntled with the Hollywood star machine and the roles that studio head Louis B. Mayer was foisting on her. She quit the business in protest and, other than a cameo in 1943’s Milada Pressinger, didn’t appear in a film again until 1997’s The Gambler.

Rainer is that Oscar-winning rarity, a star who walked away from Hollywood on her own terms. Considerably more common is the artist who struggles long after his or her big moment on the Academy Award stage.

Louis Gossett, Jr., was primarily a TV actor when he won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar as tough-but-fair Sgt. Emil Foley in 1982’s An Officer and a Gentleman. He followed up that industry honor with 1983’s legendarily bad Jaws 3D. Gossett also starred in 1986’s box-office hit Iron Eagle, but many of his later films are of the low-budget family-friendly variety, including 2012’s Smitty, which co-stars an Oscar-winning actress with a similarly fading star, Mira Sorivino.

Her 1995 Best Supporting Actress win in The Mighty Aphrodite was a surprise — Kate Winslet was the favorite for Sense and Sensibility — and after a series of box-office disappointments her career trajectory began descending, perhaps bottoming out as the title role in last year’s made-for-Lifetime holiday drama Finding Mrs. Claus. Sorvino was just announced to play Jim Gaffigan’s wife in the comic’s CBS comedy pilot.

Five years after Cuba Gooding, Jr., won Best Supporting Actor as the brash NFL wide receiver with the loud catchphrase “Show me the money!” in Jerry Maguire, his career literally went to the dogs with 2002’s Snow Dogs. By 2007 he made Norbit and Daddy Day Care, and has since starred in a string of direct-to-DVD films including Lies & Illusions, The Devil’s Tomb, and Ticking Clock, along with the occasional panned feature film such as 2012’s Red Tails.

It could also be argued that those three Oscar winners are examples of fortuitous film roles, when the perfect script, director, and studio came together to help them deliver a once-in-a-lifetime performance.

This could be called the Kim Basinger Law, named for the model-turned actress who won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar as a Veronica Lake-lookalike prostitute in 1997’s L.A. Confidential. More than 15 years later, Basinger hasn’t had a hit since her supporting role as Eminem’s mother in the rapper’s 2002 film debut, 8 Mile.

Geena Davis won Best Supporting Actress for 1988’s Accidental Tourist and proved the win wasn’t a fluke with her Oscar nomination for 1991’s Thelma & Louise. But the record-setting flop of 1995’s Cutthroat Island followed by the failure of 1996’s The Long Kiss Goodnight took its toll.

The fate of Davis is a cautionary tale for Oscar-winners such as Adrien Brody (2002’s The Pianist) and Halle Berry (2001’s Monster’s Ball), and even a well-respected actor such as Forest Whitaker (2006’s The Last King of Scotland), each of whom has struggled more often than not at the box office and with the quality of their films since their Academy Awards.

Even an A-lister like Reese Witherspoon could be considered in danger of falling prey to the Oscar Curse. The 36-year-old actress has starred in the following films since winning Best Actress as June Carter in 2005’s Walk the Line: Penelope (2006), Rendition (2007), Four Christmases (2008), Monsters vs. Aliens (2009), How Do You Know (2010), Water for Elephants (2011), and This Means War (2012).

But the Oscar Curse isn’t always permanent.

Had this story been written in, say, 2007, Marisa Tomei, 1992’s Best Supporting Actress winner for My Cousin Vinny, would have certainly been included as an Oscar flop. Then she made 2008’s drama The Wrestler and her career was reborn. And Helen Hunt, who won a Best Actress Oscar for 1997’s As Good as It Gets, lived up to the film’s title until her role this year as a sympathetic sex surrogate in The Sessions. The performance drew raves and earned her a Best Supporting Actress nomination.

That’s certainly something fellow nominee Anne Hathaway should consider as she takes the stage to accept her Oscar for Les Miserables, as most predict she will. If nothing else, she should take the time to absorb as much of her crowning achievement as she can, as should all of the first-time winners.

There is a chance it could be downhill from here.

Source 1

Source 2

Two articles explaining the so-called Oscar Curse from two perspectives: one dealing with failed relationships, and one with losing your roles and getting typecasted. Speaking of which, do you see J-Law, AnnE, Jessica, or anyone else who could win tonight facing the same fate?

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