If “The Help” star Viola Davis is named best actress at next Sunday’s Academy Awards ceremony, let’s hope she has a more successful post-Oscar career than Halle Berry, the previous (and to date, only) African-American to win that prize. After winning the golden guy in 2002, Berry saw her reputation tarnish in turkeys like “Gothika” and “X-Men: The Last Stand.” And let’s not forget the purr-fectly awful 2004 comic book yarn “Catwoman.”
Berry’s not alone: Here are six others who suffered from the “Oscar curse” of having a career meltdown after winning an Oscar.
LUISE RAINER Back in the 1930s, Rainer seemed like the second coming of Greta Garbo at MGM with back-to-back best-actress wins for “The Great Ziegfeld” (1936) and “The Good Earth” (1937). But after follow-up flops like 1938’s “The Toy Wife,” in which she played a Viennese-pastry flavor of Scarlett O’Hara, Rainer was more than happy to leave Hollywood for Switzerland in 1945.
MARLEE MATLIN Winning a best actress Oscar for “Children of a Lesser God” (1986) over heavyweights Jane Fonda, Sissy Spacek, Kathleen Turner and Sigourney Weaver was quite a coup for the hearing-impaired Matlin. Sadly, her most memorable post-Oscar performances have been in “The Lip Reader,” a 1993 episode of “Seinfeld” and on season 6 of “Dancing With the Stars.”
CUBA GOODING JR. “Show me the money” was Gooding’s Oscar-winning demand to Tom Cruise in “Jerry Maguire” (1996). So why hasn’t Gooding asked his agent to find him another equally good script? In bombs like “Rat Race” (2001), “Boat Trip” (2002) and last month’s “Red Tails,” Gooding could be the poster child for the Oscar curse.
MIRA SORVINO She seemed like Mighty Mira after her supporting-actress Oscar win for Woody Allen’s “Mighty Aphrodite,” then her star plummeted after teaming with Lisa Kudrow in “Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion” and Mariah Carey in the straight-to-video turkey “Wise Girls.”
ROBERTO BENIGNI Benigni was full of bounce when he accepted his best-actor Oscar for 1997’s “Life Is Beautiful,” which he also directed. Then he landed with a thud thanks to his follow-up, the 2002 megaflop “Pinocchio.” Maybe after his role in Woody Allen’s upcoming film, “Nero Fiddled,” life will be beautiful again for Benigni.
REESE WITHERSPOON She hit the high notes with her Oscar-winning portrayal of country star June Carter Cash in “Walk the Line” (2005). Since then, it’s been mostly low notes like last year’s “Water for Elephants.” And with brutal reviews for her latest, “This Means War,” the curse doesn’t seem to be ending anytime soon.