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Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie could be latest couple cursed at the Oscars

February 20, 2009 |  6:06 pm

For both Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, the only speech they really need to rehearse for Sunday's Oscars is what to say when they run into his ex-wife Jennifer Aniston. After all, both Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are ranked by Gold Derby fourth in their respective lead races for "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" and "Changeling."

And the track record of couples both nominated for Oscars in the same year is not great. Of the 11 couples profiled below, only one — Frances McDormand and Joel Coen — both won on the same night. In four other derby years, the woman won while, in one instance, it was the man. And for the five others — including the most recent pairing of Heath Ledger and Michelle Williams in 2005's "Brokeback Mountain" — both of them lost.


In 2005 Ledger and Williams met while making "Brokeback Mountain." He lost the lead actor race to Philip Seymour Hoffman ("Capote") while she lost the supporting actress Oscar to Rachel Weisz ("The Constant Gardener").

In 1996, Joel Coen directed his wife Frances McDormand for the fifth time in "Fargo." She won her only lead actress bid (she has lost three supporting races) and he earned his first directing nod. While he lost that race to Anthony Minghella who helmed best picture champ "The English Patient" he shared the original screenplay Oscar with his brother Ethan Coen.

In 1995 Tim Robbins directed his partner Susan Sarandon to the lead actress Oscar in "Dead Man Walking." While Sarandon won on her fifth and, to date, final bid, Robbins lost his only helming nod to another actor turned director Mel Gibson who won for making best picture champ "Braveheart." Robbins would go on to win the supporting actor Oscar in 2003 for "Mystic River" which was directed by the ultimate crossover Clint Eastwood.

In 1968 Paul Newman directed his first film "Rachel, Rachel" with wife Joanne Woodward in the title role. Woodward lost the second of her four lead actress bids — she won with her first in 1957 for "The Three Faces of Eve" — to both Katharine Hepburn ("The Lion in Winter") and Barbra Streisand ("Funny Girl"). Newman was nominated for producing this best picture contender which lost to "Oliver!" He would go on to win on the seventh of his eight lead actor nods in 1986 for "The Color of Money" and earned a single supporting nod as well. Newman also received an honorary Oscar in 1985 and the Hersholt humanitarian Oscar in 1993.


In 1967 Katharine Hepburn won the the second of her record four lead actress awards for "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" which was her final film with off-screen love Spencer Tracy. She always thought of this award as a tribute to Tracy, who died just days after filming finished on their ninth on-screen collaboration. Tracy lost his ninth and final lead actor race. He had won back-to-back Oscars in 1937 and 1938 for "Captains Courageous" and "Boys Town" respectively. "Dinner" was the only film they made together in which they were both nominated but Hepburn picked up the third of her 12 lead actress nods for their first collaboration "Woman of the Year" in 1942.

In 1966 husband and wife Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor contended in the lead races for "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" Taylor won the second of her two lead actress Oscars — the first was in 1960 for "Butterfield 8" — on her fifth and final nod. Burton lost the fifth of his seven nods to Paul Scofield ("A Man for All Seasons"). Burton shared the title of Oscar's biggest loser with his drinking buddy Peter O'Toole until O'Toole worsted him with his loss for "Venus" two years ago.

In 1963, Rex Harrison lost the first of his two lead actor bids for "Cleopatra" to Sidney Poitier ("Lilies of the Field") while wife Rachel Roberts lost her only best actress nod to Patricia Neal ("Hud"). Harrison would win the following year for reprising his stage role of Henry Higgins in best picture champ "My Fair Lady."

In 1957 husband and wife Charles Laughton and Elsa Lanchester were nominated for "Witness for the Prosecution." Laughton — already a lead actor champ for 1933's "The Private Life of Henry VIII" — lost the third of his three lead actor bids to Alec Guinness ("The Bridge on the River Kwai"). Lanchester lost the second of her two supporting actress noms to Miyoshi Umeki ("Sayonara").

In 1953 Ava Gardner successfully petitioned Columbia studio head Harry Cohn to cast her husband Frank Sinatra in "From Here to Eternity." While he won the supporting actor award she lost her only lead actress bid for "Mogambo" to Audrey Hepburn ("Roman Holiday"). Sinatra went on to earn one lead nod and was awarded the Hersholt humanitarian Oscar in 1970.

In 1939, soon-to-be-marrieds Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh competed at their first Oscars. Oliver lost the first of his eventual nine lead actor nods for "Wuthering Heights" to Robert Donat ("Goodbye Mr. Chips"). Olivier went on to win the lead actor award for 1948's best picture "Hamlet" and received his sole directing nom for that film. He also had one supporting nod and was honored with a lifetime achievement Oscar in 1978, the year he contended in his final lead actor race for "The Boys From Brazil." Leigh won the first of her two lead-actress Oscars for "Gone With the Wind" and would go on to win again with her only other nod for "A Streetcar Named Desire" in 1951.

At the fifth Oscars held for the 1931-1932 season, husband and wife Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne contended for lead Oscars for "The Guardsman." He lost a three-way race to both Fredric March ("Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde") and Wallace Beery ("The Champ") while she lost to Helen Hayes ("The Sins of Madelon Claudet"). The stage stars never made another movie.


Gold Derby odds on the top Oscars races

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Photos: Wire Image, L.A. Times, Warner Bros.

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