SANTA MONICA, California — Picking Jennifer Hudson as a mortal lock for the Best Supporting Actress Oscar isn't exactly a bold prediction — the former "American Idol" contestant has cleaned up in nearly every important pre-Academy Awards race. But if she does win, what will it mean?
Mira Sorvino and Marisa Tomei practically disappeared after winning in the same category in the early '90s, making the Best Supporting Actress Oscar seem somewhat cursed. To see if that still holds true, we looked back at some of the category's recent winners to see how their careers fared after taking home the golden statuette.
Actress: Jennifer Connelly
Oscar-Winning Role: Alicia Nash in "A Beautiful Mind." Known for her meticulous research and fierce intelligence, Connelly didn't just star as Alicia Nash, she inhabited her. Although the film went on to win Best Picture, some say Connelly's performance actually overshadows the flick five years later.
Golden?: Connelly's been good for about a role a year since her win, and almost all of them practically scream "important": "Blood Diamond," "House of Sand and Fog," "Little Children" ... even her flops, "Hulk" and "Dark Water," are high-concept.
Next: Connelly plays a mother who loses her son to a hit-and-run in "Reservation Road." "It's such a beautiful, moving script. As a mom, I was really moved by my character, Grace," Connelly told MTV News.
Verdict: Connelly's parlayed her Oscar into a number of high-profile films but few leading roles. Out of the three main leads in "Blood Diamond," her performance is the only one that was not recognized by the Academy this year. Without more leading roles, it's tough to call Connelly's post-Oscar career an unqualified success.
Actress: Catherine Zeta-Jones
Oscar-Winning Role: Velma Kelly in "Chicago." Zeta-Jones vamped, sang and sashayed her way to Oscar glory, riding powerful vocals to a surprise win at the podium. Sound familiar? "Chicago" scripter Bill Condon went on to direct Jennifer Hudson in "Dreamgirls."
Golden?: Pregnant at the time of her Oscar win, Zeta-Jones has chosen her roles sparingly since "Chicago," notably appearing as a supporting player in "The Terminal" and "Ocean's Twelve." The most famous Welsh actress of all-time, Zeta-Jones might be becoming better known these days as the voice of T-Mobile.
Next: Zeta-Jones has completed work on two upcoming projects, including "Death Defying Acts," a romance that pits a psychic (Jones) against the legendary con man and magician Harry Houdini (Guy Pearce).
Verdict: Roles in clunkers like "Intolerable Cruelty" and "The Legend of Zorro" can't be dismissed like "All That Jazz." Zeta-Jones has yet to prove that her acting win wasn't a fluke, choosing instead to pick roles that generally stay within her comfort zone. Still, it's hard to argue with success — when looking for a sassy, worldly vixen, look no further than Zeta-Jones.
Actress: Renée Zellweger
Oscar-Winning Role: Ruby Thewes in "Cold Mountain." Notice to aspiring Best Supporting Actress hopefuls: Hook up with Anthony Minghella. After directing previous winner Juliette Binoche to an award-grabbing performance for her role in "The English Patient," Minghella took Zellweger — an overnight sensation eight years earlier for "Jerry Maguire" — to the promised land with "Cold Mountain." A two-time nominee for Best Actress ("Bridget Jones's Diary" and "Chicago"), Zellweger proved the third time was the charm.
Golden?: After her Oscar victory, Zellweger took turns starring as Russell Crowe's wife in "Cinderella Man" and as Beatrix Potter in "Miss Potter," a biopic of the famous author. While critical accolades haven't been pouring in, both films were considered to be awards favorites — before they were released, at least.
Next: "Leatherheads," George Clooney's third directorial effort, sees Zellweger cast opposite the "Sexiest Man Alive" in a romantic comedy set in the world of 1920s football.
Verdict: Zellweger's work didn't plateau with "Cold Mountain." Only two years removed from her win, her career is steadily picking up steam, although it's debatable how much of that has to do with her win and how much is owed to the colossal successes of the two movies for which she lost. A sexy, bubbly blonde ... we could go on, of course, but we had you at "plateau."
Actress: Cate Blanchett
Oscar-Winning Role: Katharine Hepburn in "The Aviator." Does Oscar so love the Connecticut Yankee that it not only gave Hepburn four Academy Awards for Best Actress — the most ever — but also endowed Blanchett with the Best Supporting Actress honor simply for playing her? In an unusually strong year, Blanchett beat out equally powerful performances by Virginia Madsen and Sophie Okonedo.
Golden?: Blanchett is nominated again this year in the same category — for her performance in "Notes on a Scandal" — and is considered Jennifer Hudson's main competitor. Moreover "Babel," in which Blanchett plays Brad Pitt's doomed wife, is the actress' sixth film in nine years to get nominated for Best Picture.
Next: One good turn deserves another. After bursting on the scene in '98 and landing a Best Actress nomination for "Elizabeth," Blanchett returns to the iconic queen with "The Golden Age," the rare historical sequel that has us excited.
Verdict: Like "Notes" co-star and former Best Supporting Actress winner Judi Dench before her, Blanchett is often mentioned as one of the best living actresses. Oscar didn't change that. What it did do was give Blanchett the opportunity to play a plausible love interest in a mainstream flick — something she'll do again in David Fincher's mind-bending romance "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button."
Actress: Rachel Weisz
Oscar-Winning Role: Tessa Quayle in "The Constant Gardner"
Golden?: It's way too early to declare what sort of impact winning an Oscar will have for Rachel Weisz, who picked up her golden statuette just last year. That said, it's tiring just to read Weisz's list of upcoming credits. There's little doubt she has picked up a slew of roles thanks to her award-winning performance.
Next: Six films, including "Fred Claus" opposite Vince Vaughn and "My Blueberry Nights" with Jude Law and Natalie Portman. But please, Rachel, pretty please with sugar on top ... don't make us type that you're doing "The Mummy 3."
Verdict: Promising but premature.
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