8 Oscar Winners and the Horrible Movies They Did Next

An Oscar is a funny thing. Winning one means you're a respected thespian, but as 1966's Best Supporting Actress Sandy Dennis once noted, it also means you can't be new again. Some Oscar-winners find themselves taking less-than-stellar roles after their big night at the Kodak, and we're commemorating eight whose next trip to the silver screen was a marked downgrade.

(Point of order: We're talking about these actors' next movies to arrive on the silver screen; some may have been filmed prior to their Oscar win. Also, a few actors on our list played parts in TV movies following their Oscar win, but for the purposes of this list we're not counting them. Who does?)

Anthony Hopkins

Oscar: Best Actor for Silence of the Lambs

Next movie: Freejack

Anthony Hopkins is pretty fabulous in everything; I even recall his role as Torvald Helmer in the '70s adaptation of A Doll's House with awe. But the movie that followed his most prestigious part, Dr. Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs, is a head-scratcher: the cyperpunk failure Freejack, starring Emilio Estevez, Mick Jagger, and Rene Russo. Cute fun-fact: It's a futuristic technological thriller set in 2009.

Marlee Matlin

Oscar: Best Actress for Children of a Lesser God

Next movie: Walker

Marlee Matlin was greeted with a fleet of accolades for her debut film, the screen adaptation of Mark Medoff's play Children of a Lesser God, and the august thesp still holds the record for youngest Best Actress winner (at age 21). Unfortunately, she followed that success with the towering failure of Walker, the absurd, Peckinpah-aping story of William Walker, an American filibuster who invaded Mexico and became president of Nicaragua. Lucky for us, Marlee Matlin's Twitter indicates that she's in pretty good spirits.

Helen Hunt

Oscar: Best Actress for As Good As It Gets

Next movie: Dr. T. and the Women

Oh, the post-Oscar career of Helen Hunt. Does it get any weirder? After decimating awards season with her Oscar and Emmy win, Helen Hunt moved on to costar with Richard Gere and Farrah Fawcett in Robert Altman's Dr. T. and the Women, and here are three things you should know about this movie: 1) It is called Dr. T. and the Women; 2) Tara Reid and Shelley Long play key roles; 3) Richard Gere stars a gynecologist who's just trying to understand love in this crazy world. S.O.S.

Adrien Brody

Oscar: Best Actor for The Pianist

Next movie: The Singing Detective

Tina Fey's least favorite SNL host's Oscar win for The Pianist was a surprise, but his subsequent role was even more of a shock: the Robert Downey Jr. non-hit The Singing Detective, based on the same-named BBC miniseries. Any movie with Katie Holmes playing a professional role is probably a misstep.

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  • jake says:

    Hello? Halle Berry? I thought the next role she CHOSE after the Oscar win was either Gothika or Catwoman (her roles in other movies from that year had already been shot when she won). Either one would qualify above most if not all of these. (With the possible exception of that weird nosed piano player).
    I mean, no one expected Jennifer Hudson to do anything after Dreamgirls except something like Sex and the City. It was perfect for her since she can't act. (Halle Berry isn't much of an actress either. She won for getting nasty with Billy Bob). What if Gabourey Sidibe had won for Precious? Would you have been surprised that her next movie was a bit part in Sex and the City? Actually, getting that part would have been a surprise for her.
    Why are you including Helen Mirren for taking a minor role in National Treasure 2? Or Linda Hunt for doing Dune? How could she know that Dune wouldn't be a huge box office success with all it had going for it (it's really a pretty interesting movie even after all these years). Same thing with Helen Hunt. After winning an Oscar she chose to do a (gulp) Robert Altman film. What was she thinking!?!?!?!?! Sure the movie ended up being pretty bad, but who can blame any actress for wanting to do a film with Altman?
    The rest of your list is pretty good though. There is definitely a bit of a curse with winning an oscar, especially if you are an actress. You probably could have included Julia Roberts here too, although her oscar was practically a lifetime achievement award.

  • XLoomis says:

    Like the poster above, where is Halle Berry ?? she was the first name who came in my mind when I saw the title of this article!

  • Louis Virtel says:

    Halle Berry's next role was in Die Another Day. Getting to be a Bond Girl, whether the film was good or bad, is a pretty big deal.

  • Neo says:

    Oscar: Best Actress for "Moonstruck"
    Next movie: "Mermaids"!
    Robin Williams
    Oscar: Best Supporting Actor for "Good Will Hunting"
    Next movie: "What Dreams May Come" (The beginning of the end for Mr. Williams).

  • Louis Virtel says:

    OK, "What Dreams May Come" is TERRIBLE. That is now an honorary part of the list.

  • jake says:

    Yeah, I missed the rule you put in there about it being the next film to come out, which would probably discount Halle Berry with that parameter in place. However, "getting to be a Bond Girl" as the reasoning (Die Another Day is not a good movie, even though it was a Bond film) would sort of preclude several other actors on your list like Helen Hunt (starring in a Bob Altman film is a "pretty big deal" as you put it).
    To be honest, the whole "restricting it to the actors next film to hit the silver screen" kind of makes the article a wash since no one is so prescient to know that they are going to win the oscar even a month before the ceremony, so why would any film they shot before the oscars be any sort of indicator of what the actors did with the prestige that comes with an oscar. What's far more interesting is (and this would require more research obviously) what choice did the oscar winner make when they started getting scripts and pitches in the weeks following the oscar win. That would be much more telling.
    I really like your commentary, Louis, but I think this one could have been a much more interesting article. I mean, you'd think that winning an oscar would mean you could really pick your own destiny for a while. And it does... so why do so many winners blow it? Especially the ladies. Because Halle certainly would be the perfect example of bad choices being made post oscar win.
    This also sort of shows what a sham the oscars tend to be and why people call it a popularity contest. The Oscars ought to be called the "flavor of the week." Or maybe "flavor of the fall" or something like that.

  • Patrick McEvoy-Halston says:

    For me, Oscars more capture the zeitgeist of the time than anything else: more historical markers, than sure indicators of quality. Everyone's trying to avoid this, so you don't want to just poop-poop this intelligent, concerned effort, but we're all a little more mature when we find some way to make the retrospect judgment more acclaimed than the momentary one -- which we haven't just yet, with the Oscars.

  • Martini Shark says:

    Cuba Gooding Jr. needed some kind of mention here. His work has been so horrid post-Statue that Fidel Castro took him to civil court for defamation of character.

  • burlivesleftnut says:

    This list is baloney.

  • Smarmy Fierstein says:

    Yeah, I agree that much as I love Louis' commentary, this one is kind of stupid and unnecessarily snarky for a website celebrating the movies. I mean, poor stupid Marlee Matlin chose to do a movie with Alex Cox right after he had done those horrible movies "Repo Man," "Sid and Nancy" and "Straight to Hell!" How dumb of Helen Hunt to want to do a movie with Robert Altman, or Linda Hunt to decide to work with David Lynch!! What was Helen Mirren thinking wanting to do a small role in a light adventure movie" They are actors, and their business is to act.

  • anonymous says:

    Okay I think a lot of this is pretty mean spirited, poorly written and childish.
    Alot of these films were shot right when or before the oscars happened. You use them as an excuse to ridicule them under a preconceived notion that an award makes them accountable to you for your entertainment. That's unethical and unfair to the actor, who rarely has any part in creative development of the film, where it tends to fall apart.
    I actually particularly enjoyed book of secrets and Walker was popular and good enough to warrant preservation as part of the Criterion Collection

  • daveed says:

    It would have been interesting to see the first roles Academy Award winners took on after receiving their Oscars.

  • Pounderofass says:

    After Michael Caine won for Hannah and her Sisters, wasn't his next movie Jaws IV? If I remember, he wasn't even at the Oscars because he was on location.

  • Marcus says:

    I second this. Why do some people seem to think the whole world exists to live up to their expectations.

  • Allan says:

    This list makes no mention of the fact that Shirley MacLaine followed her best actress performance in Terms of Endearment by co-starring in CANNONBALL FUCKING RUN II.
    Therefore it is, at best, pathetically incomplete.

  • danrydell says:

    Dr. T and the Women might be one of the WORST movies of all time. I actually threw stuff at my TV when it ended. Robert Altman went seriously off the deep end with that piece of junk.

  • Louis Virtel says:

    His next movie was As Good As It Gets.

  • John Boy says:

    In a number of cases (like Jamie Foxx's), their inferior follow-up was actually made before their Oscar-winning film. What happens is the sucky movie remains in post-production limbo indefinitely and then when their actor wins an Academy Award, the studio dusts it off for release trying to ride that momentum. Pretty shameless, but it happens a lot. Must make the actors cringe. Here they are thinking they're moving up, but the studios are reversing the order on them.

  • w11 says:

    Honestly this is kinda stupid. It is much more telling the roles they chose to take after winning, not the films they did (may have had to do -- for money, without access to top teir work) before they won.

  • gg says:

    Anthony Hopkins is not terrific in anything he's in. He was terrible in Bad Company. His scene with Chris Rock at the end is cringeworthy.

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