Sure, winning an Academy Award gives you instant street cred in Hollywood. But earning the admiration from fellow actors (and the masses) is one thing…keeping it is another. Oscar can only take you so far, because in the end, it’s your career choices that will determine your place in the respect-meter. Take it from these actors—winning an Oscar doesn’t exactly equal a stellar resume.
Won for: Best Actor in 1995 for "Leaving Las Vegas"
A peek at Nic Cage’s filmography is like looking at a rollercoaster: there are some high points ("Leaving Las Vegas", "Adaptation", where he scored another Best Actor nomination), some low points (the movies he does for Jerry Bruckheimer, "The Wicker Man")…and some really, really low points ("Ghost Rider", anyone?). Since being exposed by his lawyer for “living beyond his means,” one might wonder if Cage has been taking just about any movie offer that comes his way, if only to pay off his tax liens and other debts. "Saturday Night Live" funnyman Andy Samberg even impersonates Cage in a segment called “Get in a Cage”, where he grills guest actors as to why they didn’t cast him in their movies (since, as Samberg says, he makes “two movies a month for the last five years.”) Maybe Cage is fooling us all with his bad career moves…maybe he has a super awesome project up his sleeve that will take him back to the top of that roller coaster? Perhaps those awful career choices are just his way of prepping for said movie role—he has been known to be a Method actor, and has said that he invented a new acting method, called “Nouveau Shamanic.” Whatever. Wake us up when “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance” is over.
Won for: Best Actress in 2001 for "Monster’s Ball"
Her portrayal of down-in-the-dumps widow Leticia Musgrove in "Monster’s Ball" helped Ms. Berry make history: she was the first black woman to win in the Best Actress category. Of course, the golden statue helped boost her image in Hollywood: the movie "X2" received re-writes to give Berry more screen time, and she was able to ask for a bigger paycheck as a Revlon spokesperson. But while Oscar helped bring her image up, her career choices are another story. In 2002 she transformed into Bond girl “Jinx” in "Die Another Day", sporting a bikini as she emerged from the surf, a role which she said would “keep me still out there after winning an Oscar.” A year later she appeared in the psychological thriller "Gothika", a moderate hit in the US box office. But it was "Catwoman" in 2005 that really did her in—the movie earned her a Razzie Award for Worst Actress, and she was also nominated for a Razzie for Worst Screen Couple. Berry managed to make more than a few (or maybe all) unmemorable films after that slump. However, she recently earned a Golden Globe nomination for her portrayal as a 70’s gogo-dancer with dissociative identity disorder in "Frankie and Alice". Who knows…maybe Berry will surprise us with an Academy Award-worthy performance next year. Hopefully in a role that doesn’t require pleather spandex.
Won for: Best Supporting Actress in 1994 for "The Piano"
Paquin brought home the Oscar when she was only 11 years old—making her the second youngest actor to win an Academy Award. Fast forward to 18 years later…and it seems Paquin isn’t gunning to win another Oscar anytime soon. Since "The Piano," she took on forgettable roles, such as the “troubled daughter who adopts orphaned goslings” (1996’s "Fly Away Home"), the leading man’s popular younger sister (1999’s "She’s All That"), an obsessed groupie (2000’s "Almost Famous"), and a teenage daughter destined to die because they live in a haunted house (2002’s "Darkness"). While she made fanboys giddy with her portrayal as Rogue in the "X-Men" franchise (a role that was also forgettable), Paquin ultimately concentrated on TV. In 2008, she took on the role of Sookie Stackhouse in the vampire series "True Blood." While the first season was undoubtedly stellar (she even won a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Television Series Drama), her performance in the next three seasons irritated viewers. She was later nominated for a 2010 Golden Globe for Best Actress for her performance in the CBS TV Movie "The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler", but her movie choices continue to falter: her last roles included the flop "The Romantics" and "Scream 4." We’ll look at the bright side: at least she’s not in "Twilight."
Cuba Gooding Jr.
Won for: Best Supporting Actor in 1996 for "Jerry McGuire"
Cuba Gooding Jr. owned the catchphrase “Show me the money!” That’s because, after winning for his performance as football player Rod Tidwell in "Jerry McGuire", it seemed like Gooding went for just about any project that would give him the “money”! After a brief supporting role in the highly awarded film "As Good as it Gets", Gooding went on to make flop after flop. It’s a good thing that he was given a star in the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2002—otherwise, they wouldn’t even think of giving him one: in 2003 alone, he earned three Razzie nominations for Worst Actor for his films "Boat Trip", "The Fighting Temptations" (opposite Beyonce Knowles), and "Radio" (where he played a mentally challenged sports and radio enthusiast). In 2007, he was praised for his small role in Ridley Scott’s "American Gangster"—only to be nominated yet again for two more Razzies, this time for the unremarkable "Norbit" and "Daddy Day Camp." Let’s hope Hollywood is still showing him the money ‘til now—because it sure doesn’t look like they’ll give him an Oscar again anytime soon!
Editor's Note: Whose Oscar should be taken back? Mira Sorvino? Jaime Foxx? Al Pacino for starring with Adam Sandler in "Jack and Jill"? Sound off in the comments!