Friday, February 24, 2017

Top 15 Worst Razzie Nominations and Winners

Tomorrow, the night before the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences have their big gala at the Dolby Theatre, the Golden Raspberry Awards get to have their moment to shine. This "professional" organization, created by John J. B. Wilson and Mo Murphy in 1981, "honors" the fine men and women who brought forth the worst films imaginable. Because of these annual festivities, we have the darker elements of pop culture forever on display, in order to show future generations the stupidity people had to sit through in theaters. Unfortunately, like many award shows, there is debate to what was included and even won. This is my view on the failures of the Razzies.

I previously covered some of my harsh attitudes towards the Razzies way back in 2013 with just a simple top ten list. I have always wanted to give the list a fresh new update, retaining my previous remarks while peppering in some other lowlights, so it is now expanded to 15 entries where the Razzies were the ones that screwed up.

Once again, in order to make it on to this list, I have to have a really strong dislike for what the Razzies have done and are willing to defend it. For example, the attack on Sly Stallone and his two films in 1985, Rambo: First Blood Part II and Rocky IV, can be debatable due to the individual merits and sheer dumb intentions of those films. And, as always, I need to have actually seen the films.

Before we jeer the jeerers, let's chip in some honorable mentions that I didn't seem fit to discuss more about:

* Betsy Palmer got the bad rap being nominated for Worst Supporting Actress for her shocking and risky turn in Friday the 13th.

* Mommie Dearest is pretty campy and laughable for some people to watch but the film and Faye Dunaway does not really earn the eternal scorn the Razzies has given it.

* The multiple nominations and Michael Cimino's win as Worst Director for Heaven's Gate were most likely earned due to the infamous theatrical cut and the general stigma the film had upon release but any film nerd or a simple glance at the Criterion Collection can tell you this is total horse hockey.

* "I Want Your Sex" by George Michael has no right being named the Worst Original Song of 1987.

* Die-hard fans of The Ramones may loathe the song but "Pet Sematary" from the movie of the same name isn't really bad at all. It's just another pop-punk ditty.

* I know that many people are pissed at George C. Scott's Worst Actor nomination for The Exorcist III, let alone that The Exorcist III is anywhere associated with bad movie awards.

* Nominating Danny Devito for Batman Returns? Are you kidding me?

* Still haven't gotten around to seeing it again but I still think Demi Moore's Worst Actress win for G.I. Jane was undeserving. Especially since Fran Descher was right there!

* Jim Carrey certainly wasn't one of the Worst New Stars of 1994 for Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, Dumb and Dumber, and The Mask.

* The Most Tiresome Tabloid Targets Award is kinda of a nice snapshot of pop culture in 2005 but has absolutely nothing to do with movies.

15. Body Hair and Body Parts Are Actors Too (1992)

I groan and loathe whenever the Razzies has a jokey nomination in the running for any of their awards. Probably the most egregious moment has to be at the 13th edition, when two dubious noms were entered into the Worst New Star category. The first one was Kevin Costner's crew cut in The Bodyguard. Remember how memorable that was? No? The second nomination was even more stupider than a bad hair job: Sharon Stone's "tribute" to Theodore "Beaver" Cleaver in Basic Instinct. How is that a joke at all? Thankfully, Pauly Shore took home the award but the history books will forever show how pitiful the Razzies can come with their nominations.

14. Robing Hood: Prince of Dweebs (Thieves): Worst Actor (Kevin Costner) (1991)

Yes, Costner didn't even try for a British accent in the movie but he was enjoyable as the renowned outlaw. The reason this is on this list is the sheer fact that Costner won the award largely for such a small excuse compared to his opponents: a shock humor misogynist in his own concert film (Andrew Dice Clay, Dice Rules), a failed attempt to forego action heroics for stilted comedy (Sylvester Stallone, Oscar), an unbearable walking experience of egotism (Bruce Willis, Hudson Hawk), and a graduate of Prince's Academy of Singers Who Can't Act (Vanilla Ice, Cool as Ice). Then, there's the other actors who were off the list but are more deserving to replace Costner, such as Brian Bosworth in Stone Cold (though he was included as Worst New Star) and Chevy Chase in Nothing But Trouble.

13. The Joe Eszterhas Worst-Written Film Grossing Over $100 Million Award (1996)

Every now and then, the Razzies create a new category either to skewer one of their repeated offenders or to mock Hollywood trends. The success of screenwriter Joe Eszterhas was a mighty big thorn in their side, so they crafted a commemorative category for him, designed to include audience favorites that did well in the box office. How this was not brought back up during the Twilight years is anyone's guess. The problem with the category itself is that all of its nominations didn't really truly and absolutely stink in the story: Independence Day and the "winner" Twister were just exciting big-budget B-movies, A Time to Kill is pretty harrowing at times and has a famous if clumsy monologue, and The Hunchback of Notre Dame actually touches upon themes truly shocking to see in a Disney film. The last nominee, Mission: Impossible, I can kinda see fitting since the complicated multiple betrayals are still hard to understand but the film was still entertaining. Speaking of new categories...

12. The Razzie Redeemer Award (2014 - Ongoing)

Does anyone remember The Swan? Hailed as the absolute worst reality television series ever created, the show had a bunch of women get complete makeovers, including plastic surgery, in order to achieve the beautiful outer appearance they always dreamed of having. These same women then immediately compete in a beauty pageant so the show can determine who's the best ugly ducking turned swan. The Razzies proceeded to copy this model of faux good intentions when in 2014 they created the Razzie Redeemer Award. The newly crafted prize was designed to honor past Razzie nominees for their new worthwhile efforts but they still had to compete against each other just to be the real redeemer. Kristen Stewart, Keanu Reeves, Mike Myers, and Jennifer Aniston all helped produced acclaimed works that year but Ben Affleck seemed to do it that much better I guess because he got an Oscar. In the second iteration of the award, the Razzie committee continued the stupid structure but were already stretching at the seems, giving Elizabeth Banks a nomination for directing Pitch Perfect 2 simply because she was one of the 13 directors of the anthology film Movie 43. This year, the Razzies finally changed the award to what it should have been in the first place: a prize of accomplishment for just one single individual. But even with this new change, they still managed to screw it up royally. They are bequeathing the Razzie Redeemer to Mel Gibson for Hacksaw Ridge due to him previously being nominated just one single time for his generally acclaimed supporting turn in the turgid action-fest The Expendables 3.

11. Who The Hell Is Angelyne? (1989)

During the 1980s, a large amount of billboards were erected all over Los Angeles, all bearing the image of a busty blonde and her unique name "Angelyne". She became famous solely because of this feat and proceeded to do nothing of any worth save for a couple of music video appearances. But in 1989, director Julien Temple and comedian Julie Brown wished to give her a nice cameo in the film Earth Girls Are Easy, an underrated sci-fi musical comedy that celebrates the L.A. scene and the MTV generation. Angelyne is barely in the film itself, on screen for just a little over a minute and only having five lines of dialogue. All she honestly does is drive her signature pink Corvette, reacts in horror as it gets damaged by Jim Carrey and Damon Wayans, and airheadily points out Michael McKean to the cops. The Razzie voters unfairly though her small appearance was so heinous to the picture that she was nominated for Worst Supporting Actress. This helped set the precedent for future non-celebrities appearing in movies getting easy nominations simply because the Razzie voters had a bone to grind.

10. Mac and Me: Worst New Star (Ronald McDonald) (1988)

Mac and Me is absolutely dreadful and certainly the true worst film of 1988 (sorry Cocktail). Unfortunately, the Razzies nearly proceeded to give the infamous kids movie a complete shutout. Director Stewart Raffill managed to snag Worst Director but it was a co-win with Blake Edwards for Sunset, which itself isn't very good but certainly not as bad as a E.T. rip-off filled to the brim with distressing amounts of product placement. The sole clean "victory" that the movie earned was for Worst New Star. However, the failed breakthrough performance wasn't for the obnoxious Jade Calegory or even the ugly alien Mac. It was for Ronald McDonald. Yes, that Ronald McDonald.

For those unaware, the biggest lowlight of Mac and Me is when it heads off to the craziest McDonalds of all time, where everyone is dancing non-stop. In this scene, Ronald pops in, does some little magic tricks, compliments the kid's oversized teddy bear (Mac in disguise) and immediately leaves. That's it. Twenty seconds of actual screen time! That's the awful performance that won the creepy yellow clown a Razzie. I frankly despise whenever the voting body hands out jokey wins with this being the prime example. Tami Erin and Don The Talking Horse were far more deserving for this award than for someone with a blink-and-you'll-miss-it cameo. But hey, it could have been worst: the award could have gone to Jean-Claude Van Damme for his awesome job in Bloodsport.

9. Attacking the Action Heroes (1993)

Cliffhanger and Last Action Hero. One is a rip-roaring action film set in the mountains while the others mocks Hollywood conventions literally inside a Hollywood world. Of the two, I truly enjoy Cliffhanger far more though Last Action Hero has more depth in the thinking department. Even after reading all about the production problems, I still think the Schwarzenegger vehicle is a lot of fun. However, the Razzies always have to mock Stallone and Schwarzenegger whenever they can and handed out multiple nominations for these two films. I could argue against John Lithgow and Janine Turner getting bad notices or the attacks at their scripts but the very real problem lies in the Worst Picture category. These two action films were given prime slots over much more deserving fare: Cop and a Half, Son of the Pink Panther, the failed remake of Born Yesterday, and most especially, one of my most hated films of all time and winner of Worst Director, Boxing Helena.

8. Brian De Palma: Nominated for Worst Director (1980, 1983)

Long mocked for being a Hitchcock plagiarist, Brian De Palma did rightly get his just desserts with multiple nominations, including Worst Director, for his work on the colossal, catastrophic adaptation of The Bonfire of the Vanities. However, the man was unfairly picked upon in the past. Though I can't defend his work on 1984's Body Double, since I still haven't seen it, he did do wonders with 1981's Dressed to Kill and especially in the now iconic Scarface, which was noteworthy among harsh critics in 1983 for its graphic violence.

7. The Supporting Actresses of Sci-Fi & Fantasy (1993, 1997)

Sandra Bullock, Milla Jovovich, and Uma Thurman all received proper justice for other films but some of their standout performances were unwisely given the raspberry treatment. Sandra Bullock broke through in Hollywood with her charming, deliberately dim-witted turn as a futuristic police officer in Demolition Man yet had to suffer dishonor at the 1993 Razzies. The same went for Jovovich and Thurman in 1997. Jovovich ran the gamut of crazy in The Fifth Element as the sexy and violent Leeloo while Thurman channeled Julie Newmar as the very campy Poison Ivy in Batman & Robin, often heralded by critics as the sole redeeming thing from that fiasco.

7. S.O.B.: Nominated for Worst Director, Worst Screenplay (1981)

Blake Edwards has had a very checkered career when it comes to his films and his choice of comedy. But attacking one of the funniest satires of the 1980's, the attitudes of New Hollywood, and his own personal and professional life? I call bull.

6. Annie Was a Supporting Player in Annie? (1982)

One of the things that really ticks me and everyone else off about movie awards is how some studios place their lead actors and actresses into the supporting categories in order to avoid competition and have a better chance at winning. One of the most recent cases of this duplicity is how Alicia Vikander played the female lead yet won several awards as Best Supporting Actress for The Danish Girl. The Razzies pulled off this stunt for their third ceremony when Aileen Quinn won Worst Supporting Actress for her work in Annie. In case you don't remember, Quinn played a red-haired moppet in the film. In case you still can't get it, she played Annie. Even if you weren't not enamored by her performance, how in the hell can the titled character be nominated as a supporting player?

The reason for this stretching of the rules is pretty easy. Back in 1983, the same year as the Hollywood take of Annie, an infamous movie called Butterfly came out, presenting to the world the "newest" star of the movie industry, Pia Zadora. Since she was a cinch for Worst Actress and Worst New Star, the Razzie committee decided to lob Alieen Quinn in the supporting category so they could have an easier chance to lambast her. The Razzies would continue using this pathetic strategy in the future, most notable in reverse when Peter O'Toole was somehow nominated for Worst Actor for his clearly drunk performance in Supergirl.

5. No Love For Electronica (1981, 1982, 1985)

The Worst Musical Score category fell be the wayside in 1985, after six years of largely unfair attacks at scores that often used synthesizers and created moody landscapes. I may let Giorgio Moroder's score for the re-edit version of Metropolis to continue be scorned at by some but I certainly can not give a pass to the nominations of Tangerine Dream for Thief, Vince DiCola for Rocky IV (which "won" in 1985), and most especially Ennio Morricone for The Thing. Yes, one of the most iconic horror and sci-fi scores of all time is considered trash by the Razzies.

4. The Blair Witch Project: Worst Actress (Heather Donahue) (1999)

A way too, too easy target for the Razzies, Heather Donahue's widely parodied performance as a lost and scared documentarian is and forever shall be one of the most famous in film's history. It helped usher the film and the found footage horror genre into serious discussion. When you take a look at Donahue's fellow Worst Actress contenders that year though, it seemed the Razzies had to bite the bullet, as the other nominees weren't truly memorable in their badness. However, Juliette Lewis' much maligned performance as a mentally challenged woman in The Other Sister would have been the ideal choice but the Razzie committee saw fit to have her nominated for Worst Supporting Actress. Gee, where did I hear that awards scenario before?

3. The Unfunny Sexual Humor of the Razzies (Various)

The Razzies have always had a strenuous relationship with the LGBT community when it comes to their form of comedy. They seemed to establish in the very first iteration of their awards that they had some moral high ground when they attacked Cruising and the still unreleased on video even today Windows for their homophobic content. Unfortunately, at the very same event, they also gave a Worst Supporting Actress nomination to Georg Stanford Brown for his drag performance in Stir Crazy. Onwards from this point, the Razzies have routinely yucked it up to themselves by including actors and actress in opposite gender categories whenever they acted in drag or even played a character who is disguising themselves. Brooke Shields, Dom DeLuise, Kurt Russell, John Candy, and Jane March all have either won or been nominated because of this approach. Now, you could make the case that these much publicized Razzie awards and nominations did help lead Hollywood to slowly move away from and/or refine drag humor. Even the Razzies themselves eventually gave up on their lame running joke: For the 1994 awards, Julia Sweeney was nominated as Worst Actress for It's Pat instead of say Worst Actor or some kind of new acting award like Worst Person, given the gag for that crappy SNL character. Unfortunately, the joke reared its ugly head into the limelight again when Jack and Jill swept the entire 32nd edition of the Razzies, netting Worst Actress and Worst Supporting Actress for Adam Sandler and David Spade respectively. This inappropriate revival continues to march on whenever they nominate Tyler Perry for his work as Madea.

But the most egregious sexual barbs to come from the Razzies have sprung up in recent times due to the usage of hurtful epithets. The Transformers franchise has been a favorite target for bad movie lovers and critics due to their bombastic, hard-to-see action theatrics, bad acting, bad direction, bad screenplays, and overall being a general plague to the senses. When the Razzies nominated the films, starting first with 2009's Revenge of the Fallen and up to 2014's Age of Extinction, they have referred to them in press releases and on their websites under the nickname "Trannies". Due to obvious reasons, this has earned them widespread criticism. Sadly, considering the fifth Transformers entry is coming out this year and expected to be a favorite, the Razzies may continue this campaign of hate speech.

2. The Shining: Worst Director and Worst Actress (Shelly Duvall) (1980)

I don't really need to describe why these two nominations for one of the most perennial horror films is sheer insanity. Just watch the film. I will mention that these came from the very first "ceremony" of the Razzies, when the committee was just John Wilson and a pile of his friends and their show was at his tiny living room alcove in Hollywood.

1. Razzies Go Political (2004, 2011, 2016)

For the 2004 awards, the Razzies nearly destroyed everything they ever accomplished, all to seek publicity in a tumultuous time in American history. For the first and last time, a film that was largely deemed top quality, successful with critics and audiences and even the winner of the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival, had multiple nominations. That film was Fahrenheit 9/11, the latest documentary from political provocateur Michael Moore. Just to spite the Bush administration, the Razzie committee had the film nominated for Worst Actor (George W. Bush), Worst Supporting Actor (Donald Rumsfeld), Worst Supporting Actress (Britney Spears and Condoleezza Rice), and Worst Screen Couple (Bush and either Rice or his pet goat). All of them, including the goat, would later win. There was much outcry for all of this, mostly accurate, from the left, the right, and anyone that had common sense. The fact that a high caliber documentary, regardless of your political attitudes, would get nominate for anything ruins the whole motive of the awards; bringing reality and personal/national pain into something specifically designed to lampoon narrative drivel and egocentric individuals is a giant culture clash. Then, there's the fact that these political targets won their "awards". What is particularly distressing, and shows how shallow they could get, is that the Razzies wanted to hit at Britney Spears one more time so her extremely brief (i.e. a soundbite) appearance in the doc somehow warranted an award. The Razzies quickly learned their lesson, going back to true blue movies in their nominations.

All until the 2011 awards, where Sarah Palin was nominated for Worst Actress for the documentary The Undefeated, despite the fact she doesn't appear in it as herself (only in voice-over and video clips), and had no part in the beyond terrible propaganda piece (her voice-over came from her audio-book readings of "Going Rogue", which the producers got the rights to). Once again, the Razzies gave no shit about their rules and just threw in a documentary into the acting categories just to be smartasses.

Which brings us to today, where the 2016 awards has multiple nominations for the political documentary Hillary's America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party, including one for Worst Actor and Worst Actress. I can't really rail for or against this action since I didn't see the film, nor had the urge to spend money on it. However, judging solely by what critics had to say, this is an inverse of the Fahrenheit 9/11 debacle, since Hillary's America really, really stretches the term "documentary" and features director Dinesh D'Souza playing a dream version of himself. Nevertheless, mocking the idiots on all sides of Washington and cable television is one thing; mixing it with Bill Cosby riding an ostrich, Pia Zadora vanity movies, and the horribleness of Eddie Murphy is another.

No comments:

Post a Comment