Oscar night is supposed to be the night where dreams come true and careers are made, but for many actors over the years, it has marked the beginning of a downward trend. Among the list of past winners, you’ll find some of Hollywood’s most timeless faces. But you’ll also find some names that have faded since their night of Oscar glory.
Through no fault of their own, some actors have struggled to escape from under the weight of an Academy Award win — especially if it came early in their career. Despite their best efforts, they have yet to repeat their previous levels of success and live up to the title “Academy Award winner.”
Here are some of the steepest falls for Oscar winners in recent years:
Despite two wins for Best Actress, Hilary Swank’s career maps out with two peaks and large valleys in between. Not counting her winning roles in “Boys Don’t Cry” and “Million Dollar Baby,” none of Swank’s leading roles have caught much traction either financially or critically. Her more commercial choices like “P.S. I Love You” and “The Reaping” failed to capture their respective target audiences, and Oscar bait like “Conviction” and “Amelia” saw only mild critical response.
Cuba Gooding, Jr.
His iconic role in “Jerry Maguire” and the catchphrase that followed (“Show me the money!”) marked the beginning of a steep and fast drop in Gooding’s career. Embarrassing roles in films like “Snow Dogs” and “Boat Trip” became examples of how far an Academy Award winner could fall. Gooding has made some notable appearances in films like “Red Tails” and “Pearl Harbor,” but his turn in “Radio” earned ridicule from Robert Downey Jr.’s character in “Tropic Thunder.”
After two previous nominations, Zellweger won her golden statue for “Cold Mountain” but has yet to earn similar praise since. She earned three nominations in as many years, but since then, the accolades have dried up. Her major starring roles in “Miss Potter” and “New in Town” did not live up to the critical or financial standards set by “Chicago” or “Bridget Jones’s Diary.”
Though he had a notable cameo in this year’s critical darling “Midnight in Paris,” Brody has picked his movie roles selectively, appearing only once or twice a year and not always as the star. He found moderate box-office success as the second leading man behind a giant ape in Peter Jackson’s “King Kong” remake, but starring vehicles like “The Jacket” fell flat.
Though Basinger’s decreasing presence in Hollywood after a decade as a blond big-screen bombshell may have coincided with her Oscar win, the signs of a dropoff after are there. Her role in “L.A. Confidential” became iconic and one of the film’s key images, but Basinger’s career began to lose steam soon after. She starred in minor dramas like “I Dreamed of Africa” and “The Door in the Floor.” She even made a memorable turn as Eminem’s mother in “8 Mile,” but smaller roles kept her from the former spotlight.
The MTV Movies team has the 2012 Oscars covered! Stick with us for everything you need to know leading up to the awards show, and on Sunday, February 26, tune into MTV.com at 5:30 p.m. ET for our three-hour red-carpet live stream and updates on the night’s big winners.