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Posted at 4:35 PM ET, 02/ 1/2011

The Oscar curse is real. Science says so.

By Jen Chaney

Sandra Bullock: evidence of an Oscar trend or curse? (AP)

There is no longer any need to speculate about whether there's a curse on the women who win an Oscar for best actress. It's fact. And some researchers at the University of Toronto have confirmed it ... kind of.

As the Huffington Post reported, the recently released study examined the marital statuses of the Academy Award-winning actresses from 1936 to the present and found that winners were 1.68 times more likely to divorce post-Oscar than the losing nominees. And of the 236 married nominees, nearly 60 percent of them wound up divorced after Oscar night. The study found that, by contrast, best actor winners were not more likely to divorce than nominees in that category.

Tiziana Casciaro, one of the researchers, tells the Huff Post that the data indicate that "status changes" -- otherwise known as major professional achievements -- negatively impact women more than men. Why? Because societal norms dictate that men should be higher achievers (and wage earners) than their female counterparts. And that when they aren't, things get uncomfortable and relationships snap.

There may be some truth to that, but that doesn't change the fact that the science behind this study seems a bit faulty.

The main problem is that, from what I can tell, the study provides no clear proof of a cause-and-effect relationship between these Oscar wins and the various divorces that followed.

Sure, plenty of us speculated that Hilary Swank's statuette-winning ways may have led to an imbalance in her relationship with former husband Chad Lowe, thereby leading to their marriage's demise. But we don't know what really caused their break-up.

As Casciaro noted about last year's winner: "Sandra Bullock is an interesting situation because while she divorced right after, the infidelity that led her to ask for divorce started before she won the Oscar."

Exactly. Who knows what was going on in these marriages before awards season? It seems unlikely, for example, that director Sam Mendes said, "Oh, my wife Kate Winslet has an Oscar now -- I'm feeling a sudden need to file for divorce."

Without clear, documented evidence as to why these various actresses ended their marriages, all that this study does is point out an interesting trend.

And Liz and I -- among many others -- already did that, and with absolutely no funding from a university.

Translation: This year's pregnant, affianced best actress front-runner Natalie Portman probably need not be concerned.

By Jen Chaney  | February 1, 2011; 4:35 PM ET
Categories:  Awards Season  
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You don't acknowledge one explanation for these divorces: that the actresses in question subsequently realized they were too good for their husbands, as opposed to the husbands merely feeling threatened. That theory is reinforced by the fact that the *best* actresses were more likely to divorce.

These women make their own decisions after all...they're not simply subject to the pride or dejection of their husbands.

Posted by: akwhitacre | February 1, 2011 8:13 PM | Report abuse

For a serious contender, awards season can result in crazy schedules, stress, and overwhelming pressure. That might just be the straw that breaks the camel's back in an already shaky relationship. These wouldn't be the first couples to stay together "just until this is over," then divorce.

Posted by: JCR7 | February 1, 2011 8:59 PM | Report abuse

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