What's Behind the 'Oscar Curse'?

Does winning a best actress Academy Award mean the end of a relationship? We have our theories

The news that Kate Winslet and Sam Mendes are divorcing, coupled with the burgeoning story that Sandra Bullock reportedly left husband Jesse James after he allegedly cheated on her, has reignited talk of "the Oscar curse" -- an apparent jinx that taking home the Academy Award for best actress has on the winner's marriage.

Hilary Swank and Chad Lowe announced they were separating 11 months after her 2005 win for Million Dollar Baby. Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Phillippe divorced seven months after her 2006 win for Walk the Line. And Halle Berry and Eric Benet also split seven months after her 2003 win for Monster's Ball. Bullock, of course, just scored best actress honors for The Blind Side, while Winslet won the award for The Reader just last year.

What's going on here? Conventional wisdom suggests a few things. First, it takes months filled with long, odd hours of hard work to film a movie, not to mention the countless weeks after the film has wrapped spent doing PR and attending pre-Oscar events. Being married to a job is sure to take a toll on any union -- so do we chalk up a split to circumstance? Or did these successful women marry men whose egos required more attention than they could give?

Maybe these splits are nothing more than a case of jealousy? Countless men still cling to the idea that the man is the family breadwinner. Now imagine that man dealing with the knowledge that the world sees his partner as more successful (and adored) than he.

Or are we to blame? Tabloids know we're quick to devour the story of the woman who had it all -- except a loving marriage. There's comfort in the idea that, sure, she may be as toned and taut as a 20-year-old with six or seven figures on a paycheck that we can only hope to see, but we've got the loving marriages with fulfilled husbands. Can we just not handle the idea that a woman can be happily married and be a high achiever all at once, so our first impulse is to look for the loophole in their seemingly perfect life?

Whatever the root for this unlucky domino effect among Oscar-winning actresses, one thing is for sure: The next married woman lucky enough (or unlucky, depending on your point of view) to win a  best actress trophy can expect to have her marriage come under scrutiny soon after. Because at next year's awards, the bets won't just be placed on who will win, but whose marriage is the next to fall apart.

Plus:
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Has Sandra Bullock Moved Out?
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Sam Mendes Denies Cheating on Kate Winslet

What do you think about the idea of an 'Oscar curse'? Chime in below!

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