Why The Oscar Curse Is A Bunch Of Nonsense, According To Math

While there are many people out there who would consider winning an Oscar to be the greatest thing ever, there has long been a legend that an Academy Award win is actually the worst thing an actor could do for their career. This idea has classically been dubbed "The Oscar Curse"... but new statistics have been revealed proving that the whole thing is really just a Hollywood myth.

These findings were recently published in the January edition of Organization Science, with Michael Jensen, a strategy professor at the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business, concluding that actors not only don't suffer from the "Oscar Curse," but instead that they actually see their careers typically thrive after a big Oscar victory. What's more, even those that don't win still get a big push work-wise, as the report finds, "Male and female Oscar nominees and male and female Oscar winners appear in more films in the five years after their Oscar nominations/wins than other male and female actors."

The researchers in the study followed the career paths of 1,023 actors and actresses from the year 1930 to 2005, and tracked their career trajectories after their leading or supporting role wins. In addition to finding that these performers would get more work post-win, they also found that there was a trend for the winners to take on more prestigious work (as indicated by features that got big festival premieres or won notable awards).

The idea of an actor benefiting from an Academy Award win may seem like a no-brainer, but the story of the Oscar Curse has been ingrained in Hollywood history since the 1930s - thanks to one famous example. In 1937 and 1938, actress Luise Rainer won Academy Award wins for her performances in The Great Ziegfeld and The Good Earth, respectively, but then saw her career basically go kaput. The actress reportedly blamed her Oscar wins for the decline, and the legend of the curse was born. (One could argue that she wound up the true victor in the end, as she only died a few weeks ago at the impressive age if 104.)

While the statistical evidence suggests that the idea of the Oscar Curse is a myth, there have been some actors in very recent memory who did see their careers falter after their big Academy Awards wins. Cuba Gooding Jr. is a pretty famous example, winning the big prize back in 1997 for his turn in Jerry Maguire, but others on the list include Halle Berry (who won in 2002 for Monster's Ball) and Adrien Brody (who took home the award in 2003 for The Pianist). Mo'Nique, who won an Academy Award in 2010 for her performance in Precious, is the most recent name that can be added to this group, though the actress says she's been told that her lack of work post-Oscar is because she's been "blackballed."

At the end of the day, this statistical evidence is definitely good news for Eddie Redmayne, Julianne Moore, J.K. Simmons and Patricia Arquette. If the numbers are to be believed, then they all should have many great working years ahead of them - and that's really fantastic news, given how great all of them are.

Eric Eisenberg
Assistant Managing Editor

NJ native who calls LA home and lives in a Dreamatorium. A decade-plus CinemaBlend veteran who is endlessly enthusiastic about the career he’s dreamt of since seventh grade.