Past Oscar Winners Then and Now
The stars burn brightest during Oscar season. But for some the spotlight is short-lived, even when they win.
With all the talk of stars and snubs, established luminaries finally getting their due, and ingénues dazzling audiences, we wondered what happened to some the Academy Award winners who have come before. And so we took a look back on some of the stand-outs in Oscar history who have since fallen out of the spotlight, and discovered where they are now.
Then: Sorvino was a fast-rising starlet when she won the Oscar for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for Woody Allen’s ‘Mighty Aphrodite’ in 1996. Prior to this comedy about a quirky call girl and the elderly man (Woody) she inexplicably falls head-over-stiletto-heels for, the 28-year-old actress had appeared in seven movies in just three years, including Robert Redford’s ‘Quiz Show’ and Whit Stillman’s ‘Barcelona.’
Now: Since then, Sorvino’s fame has faded somewhat. She still acts, but balances her career with philanthropic enterprises with Amnesty International. Nowadays, she is arguably best known for co-starring opposite Lisa Kudrow in the contemporary comedy classic ‘Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion.’ Also, she invented Post-its.*
Then: Tomei also had an incredible rise to fame. Within eight years, she leapt from working on the soap opera ‘As the World Turns,’ to a supporting role on the college-set sitcom ‘A Different World,’ to winning the Best Actress in a Supporting Role Oscar for the 1992 comedy ‘My Cousin Vinny.’ Up against such established performers as Judy Davis (‘Husbands and Wives’) and Vanessa Redgrave (‘Howards End’), her win was considered controversial, and a major upset. (Conspiracy theorists believe that presenter Jack Palance read the wrong name off the card.)
Now: Proving her critics absurd, Tomei has gone on to score nominations for Best Actress in a Supporting Role Oscar twice more, first in 2002 for ‘In the Bedroom,’ and again in 2009 for ‘The Wrestler.’ Most recently, she appeared opposite Billy Crystal and Bette Midler in the broad comedy ‘Parental Guidance.’
Then: In 1982, Davis made her screen debut in the Oscar-winning comedy ‘Tootsie.’ Just seven years later she took to the podium to accept her own Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, thanks to her work in the drama ‘The Accidental Tourist.’ In between these achievements, she memorably starred in the horror hit ‘The Fly’ and Tim Burton’s ‘Beetlejuice.’
Now: In 1992, she earned her second Oscar nomination—this time for Best Actress in a Leading Role—for the feminist drama ‘Thelma & Louise,’ but lost to ‘Silence of the Lambs’ Jodie Foster. From there she fronted the beloved baseball movie ‘A League of Their Own’ and the action-thriller ‘The Long Kiss Goodnight.’ Unfortunately the disastrous ‘Cutthroat Island,’ which she made with then husband Renny Harlin, basically killed her big screen career. In the 2000s, she moved into television, headlining two short-lived series, the sitcom ‘The Geena Davis Show’ and the White House drama ‘Commander in Chief.’ Since then, Davis’ roles have been few and far between. Most recently, she appeared in Lake Bell’s directorial debut ‘In a World…’
Then:At age 10, O’Neal was the youngest performer to win in a competitive category to date. (Her record was beaten this year by nine-year-old Quvenzhané Wallis.) She took home the Best Actress in a Supporting Role Oscar for her work opposite her real-life father Ryan O’Neal in the Peter Bogdanovich crime comedy ‘Paper Moon.’ Remarkably, this film marked her screen debut.
Now: As a child actress, she went on to score memorable roles in the comedy ‘The Bad News Bears’ and the coming-of-age drama ‘Little Darlings.’ As she got older, her roles became fewer and farther between. Though she recently earned a bit part in the Judd Apatow comedy ‘This is 40,’ O’Neal is better known now for the scandals of her father and family. This was the center of the 2011 reality TV series ‘Ryan & Tatum: The O’Neals’ as well as her shocking autobiographies ‘A Paper Life’ and ‘Found: A Daughter’s Journey Home.’
Then: Before he was scaling the seats at the Academy Awards, the Italian comedian was already an established writer, director and star in his native land. But in 1999 he won international notice as well as the Academy Award winner for Best Actor in a Leading Role for the bittersweet World War II drama ‘Life is Beautiful.’ Notably, Benigni was the first actor to win an Oscar for a non-English-speaking role, and the film also won the Best Foreign Language Oscar.
Now: Though Benigni has continued to make movies, none have been as widely celebrated as ‘Life is Beautiful.’ (Some, like his version of ‘Pinocchio,’ proved disastrous.) Most recently, he was part of the comedic ensemble of Woody Allen’s Italy-set rom-com ‘To Rome with Love.’
Then: Thanks to her stand-up routine and five-season sitcom ‘The Parkers,’ Mo’Nique was best known as a comedian when she took the role of the malevolent mother in Lee Daniels’ tearjerking drama ‘Precious.’ Her harrowing performance stunned critics and awed the Academy, paving the way to her win.
Now: Remarkably it’s been three years since Mo’Nique beat out Maggie Gyllenhaal, Penelope Cruz, Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick for the Best Actress in a Supporting Role at the 2010 Academy Awards. And yet, she hasn’t made another film since her victory. Instead, she hosted her own talk show on BET. Fittingly, it was called ‘The Mo’Nique Show.’
Then: When Basinger won the Oscar for Best Actress in a Supporting Role in 1998 for her part in the critically heralded crime drama ‘L.A. Confidential,’ she was already an established star with films to her credit like ‘Batman,’ ‘Nine ½ Weeks’ and ‘Never Say Never Again.’
Now: Though Basinger continues to act, she seems to have shied away from the spotlight since her divorce from fellow A-Lister Alec Baldwin in 2002. That same year she appeared in the Eminem vehicle ‘8 Mile,’ then a string of lackluster crime dramas followed, including the critically panned ‘Cellular.’ Currently, Basinger is in production on the ensemble romance ‘The Third Person,’ written and directed by two-time Oscar-winner Paul Haggis. Will this be her (third) comeback?
Then: Goldberg’s first Academy Award nomination came in 1986 for her performance in Steven Spielberg’s heart-wrenching adaptation of ‘The Color Purple.’ Despite being nominated for eleven Oscars, the film won none. But in 1991, Goldberg took home the award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her portrayal of sassy con artist Oda Mae Brown in the romantic-drama ‘Ghost.’
Now: Goldberg’s gone on to appear in a handful of memorable movies since then, fronting comedies like ‘Sister Act,’ ‘Made in America,’ and ‘Corrina, Corrina.’ While she still earns the occasional film role, her career has predominantly moved into television, where she’s recently had a recurring role on the musical comedy series ‘Glee’ and is a regular co-host on the talk show ‘The View.’
Then: English actress Glenda Jackson earned four Academy Award nominations over her career in film, winning twice. She first won the honor in 1971 for Best Actress in a Leading Role for her performance in the romantic drama ‘Women in Love.’ Her second win came in 1974 and within the same category for the romantic comedy ‘A Touch of Class.’ Remarkably, she wasn’t present at either Oscar ceremony.
Now: Despite the great success and acclaim she received, Jackson retired from acting in the early 1990s, when she was elected into the British House of Commons. She continues to serve as a Member of Parliament, having most recently won re-election in 2010. However, in June 2011 she announced this will be her final term, saying, “If this government stays until 2015, they may not of course, but if they do, I will be almost 80 and by then it will be time for someone else to have a turn.”
Then: Matlin won the 1987 Best Actress in a Leading Role Oscar for her screen debut as the heroine of the romantic drama ‘Children of a Lesser God.’ To date, Matlin is the only deaf actress to win an Academy Award.
Now: Breaking barriers for hearing-impaired performers, Matlin has gone on to work in film and television. Memorably, she had recurring roles on TV dramas like ‘The West Wing,’ ‘The L Word’ and ‘Switched at Birth.’ ‘Children of a Lesser God’ remains her best-known film role, though she has gone on to appear in movies like the thriller ‘In Her Defense,’ the horror-comedy ‘Excision’ and the detective drama ‘When Justice Fails.’ Later this year she is set to star in the tearjerker ‘Silent Choices.’