• Thu, Feb 20 - 11:43 am ET

The 13 Best Terrible Movies Starring Celebrated Oscar Winners

Halle Berry Catwoman

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In an ideal world, an actor or actress would win an Oscar and then only star in critically acclaimed movies to the end of days. Unfortunately that’s not always how it works. Some people argue that winning an Oscar could actually be a curse that makes promising actors either fall off the face of the earth or star in total crap in the years after their win. There’s even a theory that winning Best Actress could be deadly to your marriage — just look at Hilary Swank, Sandra Bullock, and Reese Witherspoon.

Luckily bad movies can be extremely entertaining. So in honor of the upcoming Academy Awards, let’s take a look at 13 — ooh, spooky! — movies starring acclaimed Oscar winners after they won their award. That’s right, these movies got to put “starring Academy Award winner ____” in their trailers. It’s a nice reminder that even really talented people make mistakes — and we get to laugh at them. We even added Rotten Tomatoes scores to compare.

1. Halle Berry in Catwoman (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 9%)

Won For: Monster’s Ball (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 85%)

Halle Berry is a classic example of the Oscar curse. She became the first African-American woman to win Best Actress, and then three years later she was in a godawful superhero movie. How godawful? It earned her a Razzie award.

2. Reese Witherspoon in Four Christmases (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 25%)

Won For: Walk the Line (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 82%)

Reese Witherspoon went from being the queen of fun romantic comedies to winning an Oscar to becoming the queen of really bad romantic comedies — as well as low-brow Christmas movies where a baby throws up on her.

3. Cuba Gooding, Jr. in Snow Dogs (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 24%)

Won For: Jerry Maguire (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 85%)

Want to feel really sad for Cuba Gooding, Jr.? Only three of the movies he made after Jerry Maguire received a fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The rotten ones include this disaster of a movie. Even the cute dogs can’t save it.

4. Gwyneth Paltrow in Shallow Hal (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 51%)

Won For: Shakespeare in Love (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92%)

Gwynnie went from disguising herself as a man and falling in love with the most famous playwright in history to disguising herself as a fat woman and falling in love with Jack Black. (G)oops.

5. Hilary Swank in P.S. I Love You (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 24%)

Won For: Million Dollar Baby (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 91%)

We all had to have our eyes operated on after this trailer came out because we’d permanently rolled them into the backs of our heads, right? Or was that just me? Hilary needs some more advice from Morgan Freeman.

6. Forest Whitaker in Repo Men (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 22%)

Won For: The Last King of Scotland (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 87%)

When Forest won Best Actor, everyone thought he would be huge, right? Well, it didn’t exactly turn out that way. He did star in The Butler, which seemed like total Oscar bait, until it didn’t get nominated for any. Repo Men, however, was not asking for any Oscars.

7. Mira Sorvino in Finding Mrs. Claus (Rotten Tomatoes Score: N/A)

Won For: Mighty Aphrodite (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 77%)

After her win, Mira went on to star in the classic Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion, but since then she hasn’t had as many successes. When an Oscar winner stars in a Christmas Lifetime movie, something’s gone very wrong.

8. Adrien Brody in The Village (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 43%)

Won For: The Pianist (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%)

Perhaps when Adrien kissed Halle Berry while accepting his Oscar, she passed on some of her Oscar curse, because he hasn’t become the star we all thought he’d be. Sure, he’s starred in a few good Wes Anderson movies, but he also took part in the beginning of the end for M. Night Shyamalan. So sad.

9. Nicole Kidman in Bewitched (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 25%)

Won For: The Hours (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 81%)

Luckily Nicole got back to her talented roots when she was nominated for Rabbit Hole a couple of years ago, but for a period there I was worried about her. Did we really need a remake of this show?

10. Angelina Jolie in Alexander (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 16%)

Won For: Girl, Interrupted (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 54%)

Okay, so in this case the movie she won an Oscar for wasn’t so great either. But Angie’s still an Oscar-winner, which is an important title in Hollywood. Yet she doesn’t even know what accent she wants to do in this historical drama.

11. Renee Zellweger in New in Town (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 29%)

Won For: Cold Mountain (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 71%)

Oh, Renee. Nowadays the only time I’m entertained by you is if a rerun of Bridget Jones is on TV or if Elisha Cuthbert is impersonating you. What happened, buddy?

12. Charlize Theron in Aeon Flux (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 10%)

Won For: Monster (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 82%)

Oh my God, what even was this movie? Did all that self-tanner Charlize wore to accept her Oscar suck all the good decision-making skills out of her body? You’re an Oscar-winner, girlfriend!

13. Robert De Niro in Little Fockers (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 10%)

Won For: The Godfather Part II (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 98%), Raging Bull (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 98%)

He’s arguably one of the greatest living actors, but he hasn’t won an Oscar since the ’80s, possibly because he keeps starring in movies with “Fockers” in the title. Meet the Parents was a fun movie. But did we really need those sequels? Perhaps this is why Martin Scorsese has a new muse now, Bobby.

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  • Eimear

    P.S. I Love You is a disaster of a movie, not just because it’s terrible but did you know it’s originally an Irish book by an Irish author set in Ireland with Irish characters. The movie changed lots of the plot (she had to have a deadbeat dad and difficult mum to be more cliche i guess) as well as all the characters being American except for Gerard Butler who has one of the worst Irish ever accents I’ve ever heard and it had a typical stereotypical depiction of Ireland that induced more than eye-rolling over here. Not that the book isn’t a soppy romance but it’s just so far removed from the source and so much crappier, what was the point?

    • Guest

      I had the pleasure of watching PS I Love You with one of my guy friends who whispered passive aggressive remarks to Gerard Butler every time he came on screen. “You are dead.” “Why are you here?” “But… but…you’re not actually there.” “She can’t hear you…..because you’re dead.” Made the viewing much more enjoyable.

    • Jill O’Rourke

      That sounds like the best way to watch.

  • Kathy

    Wow a lot of hard work and research went into this. Or at least a lot of clicking on Rotten Tomatoes, but anyway this is a good list. Sadly Cuba Gooding Jr. hasn’t done anything noteworthy since Jerry Maguire so maybe that was a fluke. (?) The other stars on here seem to have more in their portfolio so we can overlook the bad ones.

  • Anna

    I actually quite enjoyed The Village.