Yes, I know it’s about 10 months too early to be writing Oscar-themed posts, but writing about CSI: Cyber last month brought this topic into my head and I just couldn’t ignore it. You see, even though Patricia Arquette had started filming her role as Avery Ryan in CSI:Cyber well before she was even nominated for Best Supporting Actress (for Boyhood), the series didn’t premiere until after she took home the statuette, so it becomes her de facto first “post-Oscar role”. And while CSI:Cyber is definitely not the type of project that is going to bolster an Academy Award winner’s career, it’s also not going to pull said performer’s career down or look like a blemish on their resume. The same however, can’t be said for some other actors and the films that ended up (intentionally or not) being their first post-Oscar roles.
Best Actress Oscar – One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)
First Post-Oscar Movie – Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977)
Louise Fletcher hardly had a prolific film career and was definitely not a household name when she took home the Best Actress Oscar (Cuckoo’s Nest was only her second major film role). When lesser-known actors win an Oscar, their future careers can hinge on what film they choose as their follow-up. Unfortunately for Fletcher, the first film she signed on for a couple of months after winning her Oscar was Exorcist II: The Heretic.
While it must have looked like a sure thing to Fletcher on paper – a role as a psychologist in the sequel to a critical and commercial box office smash, and co-starring fellow Oscar winner Richard Burton – the end result was far from the case. The film did manage to pull in a meager profit, but that did little to combat the critical lashings it got from all sides. Called everything from the worst sequel of all time to one of the worst films of all time, period; Exorcist II definitely has to be seen to be believed. Over the top, nonsensical and full of mind-boggling direction, set and story choices, it can actually make for a very entertaining viewing…although not in the manner that I’m sure Fletcher would have wanted.
Louise Fletcher’s film career never really took off after that. She has, however, amassed a considerable amount of television work since then, even garnering a couple of Emmy nominations in the process.
Best Supporting Actor – Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)
First Post-Oscar Movie – Jaws The Revenge (1987)
By the late 1970s, Michael Caine had built up a solid and respectable body of work. But as the 1980s rolled on, he seemed less concerned about the quality of films he signed on for and more concerned with the payday attached to them. This motivation led to him accepting almost anything that was sent his way, which is how he ended up playing an airplane pilot named Hoagie in the ill-conceived and ill-received Jaws The Revenge. The stinker shark sequel had the unfortunate luck for Caine as being the first film of his to hit the silver screen after he won the Oscar for 1986’s Woody Allen comedy, Hannah and Her Sisters.
What’s even worse – Caine was filming Jaws The Revenge on location in the Bahamas when that year’s Academy Awards ceremony rolled around, but the producers of the finny fiasco wouldn’t release Caine from filming so he never got to accept his Oscar in person. Thankfully, Caine has since become more discerning with his film roles and when he won his second Oscar, for The Cider House Rules (1999) he was able to attend the ceremony and accept it in person.
Best Actor Oscar – Ray (2004)
First Post-Oscar Movie – Stealth (2005)
In 2004 Jamie Foxx became Hollywood’s golden boy. After years of being known mainly for his comic talents, Foxx stunned moviegoers and critics alike by giving acclaimed performances in two very different dramatic films, the noir crime flick Collateral and the Ray Charles biopic, Ray. Foxx went on to snag Oscar nominations for both roles (Supporting Actor for Collateral and Actor for Ray). Foxx took home the Oscar gold for Ray and all seemed well. That is, until a few months after his win, when he returned to the big screen playing a hot shot lieutenant in a film that did all it could to tarnish Foxx’s golden boy glow. The film was Stealth, an action/thriller co-starring Josh Lucas and Jessica Biel that can best be described using the following equation:
(Jaws x Top Gun) + the HAL 9000 computer from 2001: A Space Odyssey
Yes, it was a film about an automated fighter jet that gains sentience and starts stalking the skies (I’m not making this up).
Not content with being a critical flop, Stealth flopped at the box office too. And it flopped HARD. One of the biggest box-office bombs ever, Stealth only made $32 million domestically against a $135 million dollar budget (its worldwide gross brought the total to a still-dismal $76 million). Foxx bounced back quickly though, appearing just a few months later in the well-received war drama Jarhead (which had a budget equal to roughly half of Stealth’s, but managed to pull in almost double the domestic take of the fighter jet flop).