Oscars vs Razzies: Do Statistics Predict Success or Failure for Music Stars on the Big Screen?

With Lady Gaga a front-runner for Best Actress at the 91st Academy Awards, we ponder the success and failure of musicians who swapped stage for screen. After all, for every Oscar, there’s a Razzie – the Golden Raspberry Award. Fingers crossed Gaga doesn’t do a Britney… 

Roll out the red carpet – it’s awards season!

For an actor, there’s no greater recognition for a performance than winning an Academy Award, which have celebrated the year’s best films since 1929. But on the flipside of the dream is the nightmare – the Golden Raspberry Awards, which have recognised the year’s worst films since 1981.

Neither have been off limits to the many pop stars who have turned to acting. For every Lady Gaga – who is nominated for the Best Actress for her role in A Star Is Born – there has been a Britney Spears, who was panned for her starring role in the coming-of-age drama, Crossroads (can you believe that was almost 20 years ago?).

So to celebrate Lady Gaga’s nomination, Betway has analysed the Oscars and the Razzies to chronicle the best and worst performances of those swapping stage for screen.

The only eligibility criteria were that they a) had to be known for their music before their acting, and b) cannot not be playing themselves.

The oscar winners

Just 26 six musicians have received 37 Academy Award acting nominations between them – with eight of them going on to win.

Oscars vs Razzies: Should musicians like Lady Gaga star in films or stick to the stage?The first to do so was Bing Crosby, who received the Oscar for Best Actor for his role in 1944 musical, Going My Way

He later received two more nominations, making him the most successful musician-turned actor of all time.

Seven other artists have been nominated multiple times, including Will Smith, who once upon a time was one half of hip-hop duo DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince

He received Best Actor nods for Ali (2001) and Pursuit of Happyness (2006).

Cher was also nominated for Best Supporting Actress in Silkwood (1983), before winning Best Actress for her part in Moonstruck (1987).

Jennifer Hudson is the most recent musician to have been honoured at the Academy Awards, winning Best Supporting Actress at the 2006 ceremony for her portrayal of Effie White in Dreamgirls.

Hudson and Barbra Streisand (Funny Girl) are the only two music stars to win an Oscar for their acting debut.

The Genre

Dramas account for 18 of the 37 films in which musicians have received an acting Oscar nomination – eight more than any other genre.

That total includes Mary J. Blige’s Best Supporting Actress nomination for playing Florence Jackson in the post-war period drama Mudbound in 2017.

Unsurprisingly, the next-most popular genre is musicals, with 10 nominations. Diana Ross earned a Best Actress nomination at the 1972 Oscars for playing Billie Holliday in Lady Sings the Blues.

The remaining nominations are from two comedies, two rom-coms and a western.

The Gender Split

When a musician has been nominated for an Oscar, it’s typically for playing the leading role. Of the 37 nominations, 23 (or 62%) have been for either Best Actor or Best Actress.

Female musicians are also more likely to receive an Oscar nomination for acting than their male counterparts – 22 of thosee 37 nominations have been for women – that’s 59%.

The Role

Nine of the 37 Oscar nominees played musicians in the films they were nominated in – the most of any role. The most recent example of this is Lady Gaga in the aforementioned A Star is Born.

Three of the 37 nominees played actors or actresses, including Ann-Margret, who was nominated for Best Supporting Actress in Carnal Knowledge (1971).

the razzies

History tells us that the transition from musician to actor will normally go badly, with 35 musicians receiving 55 Golden Raspberry nominations between them – 10 of those winning a total of 17 awards.

The worst offender on the list is Madonna, who has been nominated for eight Razzies – four more than anyone else. Madonna has won five Razzies, including three for Worst Actress and two for Worst Supporting Actress for her roles in films such as erotic thriller Body of Evidence (1993) and Swept Away (2002).

Mark Wahlberg and Barbra Streisand are next on that list with four nominations each. They are also two of five musician-turned-actors to have been nominated for both an Oscar and a Razzie.

Liza Minnelli, however, is the only one to have won both. She won the 1972 Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in Cabaret, before respective Worst Actress Razzies for Arthur 2: On The Rocks and Rent-A-Cop in 1988.

Jazz musician Ahmed Best is the only musician to win a Razzie on their acting debut, having picked up the Worst Supporting Actor award for voicing Jar Jar Binks in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999) – a rebuff that he has really struggled with.

Oscars vs Razzies: Should musicians like Lady Gaga star in films or stick to the stage?

The Genre

Comedies account for 19 of the 55 films in which musicians have been nominated for a Razzie – nine more than any other genre.

That total includes Under the Cherry Moon, which earned Prince the 1986 Worst Actor award. Perhaps musicians just aren’t that funny?

The next-most popular genre is drama with 10 nominations, followed by musicals with nine nominations, action with seven and thrillers with five.

Vanilla Ice was nominated for Worst Actor in Cool As Ice (1991) – a film that was later disowned by its own director – which is one of four rom-coms.

The remaining nomination was for Kris Kristofferson as Worst Actor in 1981 western Heaven’s Gate.

The Gender Split

As with the Oscars, musicians have been nominated for more Razzies in a leading role than a supporting one.

Of the 55 nominations, 34 have been for either Worst Actor or Worst Actress – accounting for 62%.

Female singers and musicians are, again, more likely to receive nominations compared to men – 32 of the 55 Razzie nominations have been for Worst Actress or Worst Supporting Actress – that’s 58%.

The Role

Of the 55 Razzies nominees, 12 were playing musicians in the films for which they were nominated.

That includes Mariah Carey, who won Worst Actress for her role as aspiring singer Billie Frank in Glitter (2001), which was named as one of the 100 Most Enjoyably Bad Movies Ever Made in the Official Razzie Movie Guide. Still, that’s something.

Three of the 55 nominees played dancers in the next-most popular role, including Chris Brown in the 2014 box-office bomb, Battle of the Year.

Brown was nominated for Worst Supporting Actor for his role in the film, which made a loss of $3.45m.


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