Is there an Oscar curse?

Story highlights

  • An "Oscar curse" seems to plague some Academy Award winners
  • Many actors win Oscars, then see their next films flop

(CNN)Eddie Redmayne, congratulations! You've won an Oscar!

Now you'd better watch out.
If there is such a thing as an "Oscar curse" -- that malady that suddenly grips some Oscar winners, plunging their once-bright careers into "Aeon Flux"-like darkness -- best actor winner Redmayne could be a likely victim.
    Among the newly anointed crop of Oscar recipients, the "Theory of Everything" star would be right to be wary.
    He's young -- just 33 -- and could just as easily aim for big-budget movie stardom as chewy character roles. A few more films like "Jupiter Ascending," the current Wachowski siblings' bomb that features Redmayne in a major role, and he may be the answer to Oscar trivia questions in 2025.
    Sunday's other acting winners may not have the same challenges. J.K. Simmons, who won best supporting actor for "Whiplash," has been a character mainstay for years; he might start getting bigger billing, but the work should remain steady. Best actress winner Julianne Moore ("Still Alice") is an established star and is probably at little risk of going off the rails.
    And Patricia Arquette, the best supporting actress winner for "Boyhood," has made a career of combining intriguing film choices with steady TV work. Indeed, she's the star of "CSI: Cyber," which debuts March 4.
    Now, "curse" might be a little strong. Some performers such as Mercedes Ruehl ("The Fisher King") or F. Murray Abraham ("Amadeus") were character types who hit it big. It would be unlikely for them to suddenly become successful headliners.
    Other actors prefer to pick interesting roles in small, quirky movies rather than let Hollywood's box-office machinery pigeonhole them.
    On the other hand, there are any number of "it" performers -- especially actresses such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Renee Zellweger and Halle Berry -- who had youth, looks and chops and were pegged as future leads. But whether through poor script choices, fickle audiences or movie-industry biases, their follow-ups tanked. (Many of the entries on this list seem to be less the victim of a "curse" than industry preconceptions about women's roles.)
    Certainly the Oscar is a wonderful honor, a permanent prefix to an actor's name. But some may wonder if all the red-carpet scrutiny and stress was worth it. Check out the gallery for a few examples.