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Oscars theory No. 4: Slap the Stud Syndrome

February 21, 2008 | 11:28 pm

While glamour girls fare well at the Oscars (see theory no. 2: the babe factor), their male counterparts, those sexy studs, have a much harder time of it. This year's best actor front-runner, British thespian Daniel Day-Lewis, won his first Oscar back in 1989 by prevailing over Hollywood superstar Tom Cruise. While both men played wheelchair-bound real-life heroes in "My Left Foot" and "Born on the Fourth of July" respectively, some Oscarologists attribute Cruise's surprising loss to the 'Slap the Stud Syndrome.'


The theory goes that many academy voters are geezer guys who love the younger fillies but resent the handsome bucks. Their message to these Hollywood heartthrobs: "You already have it all – fame, fortune, and females aplenty. So, sorry pal, no Oscar for you, just yet."

However, just like the pretty women who de-glamourize themselves (Charlize Theron, "Monster"; Nicole Kidman, "The Hours") to win an Oscar so too can the handsome hunks who pack on a few pounds, a la George Clooney in "Syriana." This year, Javier Bardem is the hunk du jour whose unflattering Buster Brown bowl cut in "No Country for Old Men" could win him the supporting actor award.

And speaking of Clooney, as he is back to his usual movie-star-handsome-self in "Michael Clayton," the Slap the Stud Syndrome could well put Day-Lewis back in the winner's circle — at the expense of poor, two-time loser Johnny Depp, 44, who can take comfort in the fact that other studs won a best-actor Oscar later in their career when they were less of a threat to get the babes the geezers can't.


Al Pacino was 52 when nomination number seven for "Scent of a Woman" turned out to be the lucky one. But, by the time voters caught up with Paul Newman, he didn't care anymore. Even though he was widely favored to win best actor for the 1986 film, "The Color of Money," the 62-year-old actor skipped the ceremony. At that point he'd lost seven times and was tied with Richard Burton and Peter O'Toole as Oscar's biggest loser. Disgusted by the whole game, Newman told the Associated Press that his pursuit of the statuette had been "like chasing a beautiful woman for 80 years. Finally, she relents and you say, 'I am terribly sorry. I'm tired.'"


And while there are exceptions to the rule — both Marlon Brando and Clark Gable won at the height of their careers — many more leading men have been slapped through the years, never winning Oscars for acting: Warren Beatty, Charles Boyer, Montgomery Clift, James Dean, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kirk Douglas, Clint Eastwood, Albert Finney, Peter Fonda, Harrison Ford, Cary Grant, Rock Hudson, Jude Law, Marcello Mastroianni, Steve McQueen, Robert Mitchum, Nick Nolte, Brad Pitt, Robert Redford, Burt Reynolds, Will Smith and John Travolta.