“It was an honor just to be nominated.” Usually, we assume this is a lie intended to make actors sound grateful, but in the case of many young Best Actor and Best Actress nominees, the honor truly does lie in the nomination rather than the win. While it may come as a shock to some readers, winning an Oscar can actually be a career curse to many actors.

Winning an Oscar is widely considered the biggest accomplishment an actor could achieve. But after they win, the question then becomes, how can they top an Academy Award? 

Many actors have described how winning the big award has been detrimental to their careers, with Best Supporting Actress winner Marcia Gay Harden even calling her win “disastrous.” Recent examples of the so–called “Oscar Curse” include Halle Berry, Mira Sorvino, Cuba Gooding Jr., and Mo’Nique. All of these stars won the big award for their breakout roles, but couldn’t live up to very high expectations after their wins. While the trajectory of their careers was expected to go up, in reality it did quite the opposite.

Of course, there are exceptions to the rule. In recent memory, Eddie Redmayne and Jennifer Lawrence were relatively new actors whose wins propelled their careers, scoring nominations in the year following their win. But instances like these are rare.

Interestingly, the curse seems to plague women more than men. Perhaps this is because oftentimes women are nominated for their first big roles, while men are usually more experienced. In general, it’s an anomaly that an actor’s earliest role would garner them a nomination, but it does happen, like in the case of Timothée Chalamet. 

This year, Timothée received a Best Actor nomination for his role in Call Me By Your Name. At only 22–years–old, he’s the youngest nominee in this category for 80 years. His performance in the movie was breathtaking. He added emotion and depth to the role that would be hard for even seasoned actors to beat. But he probably won’t take home the Oscar this year. And that’s a good thing. 

And Timothée is just beginning his career. For these unseasoned actors in particular, winning an Oscar award is seen as peaking. In recent years, various young actors have been nominated, like youngest ever Best Actress nominee nine–year–old Quvenzhané Wallis in 2012. 

Actors should be able to take the time to develop their career, without the title of “Oscar Winner” constantly looming over them. Perhaps the “Oscar Curse” is more a state of mind than a real phenomenon. It takes a special person to succeed even when the entire world is waiting for them to fall from grace. 

For some actors, “it was an honor to be nominated” is more that a nicety. Getting the recognition that your work is appreciated and worthwhile is invaluable for a young actor like Timothée Chalamet. But at the same time, maybe his losses will encourage him to become even better, so that one day he’ll get up on that stage, thank the Academy, and truly mean it. 


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