An Oscar Nomination For A Child Usually Means Nothing Good

oscar curseThe much publicized “Oscars Curse” may plague adult women who achieve the coveted Best Actress Award. But if we take a look back through history, an Oscar win or nod to a child actor is usually prelude to personal disaster or a complete career stall.

Ever since our beloved Shirley Temple was handed an honorary Oscar in 1934, a child being honored at the Academy Awards is a questionable moment as evidenced in later drug addiction, alcoholism, poor personal choices, or even death. Tatum O’Neal earned an Academy Award at 10 years old for her role in Paper Moon and she has since spent a big chunk of her adulthood openly struggling with heroin and cocaine addiction. Heartthrob River Phoenix was acknowledged with an Oscar nomination in 1988 when he was 17. Five years later, he famously died of a drug-induced heart failure outside a night club in Los Angeles.

Haley Joel Osment, made forever famous for his “I see dead people” whisper in The Sixth Sense, was nominated for Best Supporting Actor in 1999. Shortly after turning 18, the child star was in a car accident and charged with driving under the influence of alcohol and a misdemeanor drug possession. Of course, Patty Duke‘s only crime after her win for The Miracle Worker seems to be crawling into bed with Lucille Ball‘s underage son. But she did overdose on a pills a few times and also struggled with anorexia. Keisha Castle-Hughes nominated for her role in Whale Rider when she was just 11 years also encountered a bit of trouble down the road. Although not nearly equatable with drug addiction, the young actress found herself pregnant and gave birth to a little girl just a month after her 17th birthday.

Other notable child nominees simply stopped working altogether following their recognition, having reach the pinnacle of success at such a young age. Mary Badham (To Kill A Mockingbird) famously retired at 16 and Quinn Cummings (The Goodbye Girl) also quit acting not long after becoming a legal adult.

The noteworthy Jodie Foster, who was nominated for her role as a tween prostitute in Taxi Driver, and Anna Paquin, nominated at 11 years old for her role in The Piano, as well as Patty McCormack from the very chilling The Bad Seed remain as the few child actresses who have escaped the curse with a robust film career. Abigail Breslin, who was nominated in 2007 for her role in Little Miss Sunshine, has yet to procure any DUIs, drug addictions, or other child star baggage as far as has been reported. And the worst Hailee Steinfeld has done since her 2011 nomination for True Grit is appear in some banned Miu Miu advertisements.

While child stars in general tend to find themselves on a tragic tajectory, an Oscar recognition does often not seem to steer them any closer to safety. Whether hastening them on their path to self destruction or ultimately suffocating their chances at a strong career, the Academy Awards is actually no place any loving mother would want to see her child.


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