One of the biggest pitfalls of the awards season is its focus on “worthy” films. While there is no denying the fact that the majority of the films that do well at ceremonies like the Oscars and the BAFTAs are excellent cinematic pieces, awards can run the risk of being pretentious and disconnected from the public mood. Which is why the Golden Raspberry Awards, or Razzies, which celebrate the worst projects of the year, are such a fantastic part of the calendar.
Currently in its 34th year – making it older than awards like the SAGs – it will be held the night before the Oscars, on the 1st of March. Nominees and winners are selected by paying members of the Golden Raspberry Foundation. The purpose of the ceremony is not only to poke fun of the sometimes self-congratulatory nature of Hollywood, but also to remind people that there are some rather abysmal works out there in a period normally reserved for glorifying the industry. Not to mention it is a great night for sarcasm and insults!
Akin to its less caustic counterparts, Razzies are awarded for film production, direction, writing and acting. There are, however, two categories unique to this ceremony. The first of these is Worst Screen Combo, a category that is determined by votes on the Rotten Tomatoes website. This year, the contenders are the cast of Grown Ups 2, the cast of Movie 43, Lindsay Lohan and Charlie Sheen (Scary Movie 5), Tyler Perry and Larry the Cable Guy / the wig (A Madea Christmas), and Jaden and Will Smith (After Earth).
The other Razzie-exclusive category is Worst Prequel, Remake, Rip-Off or Sequel. Unsurprisingly, the category was initially devoted to just sequels, but gradually expanded to include the other “genres”, making it the perfect scathing critique of what many people have called the lack of originality in Hollywood at the moment. This year, Grown Ups 2, The Hangover Part III, The Lone Ranger, Scary Movie 5 and The Smurfs 2 will be battling it out to take home the trophy.
The nominees for Worst Actor are Johnny Depp (The Lone Ranger), Ashton Kutcher (Jobs), Adam Sandler (Grown Ups 2), Jaden Smith (After Earth) and Sylvester Stallone (Bullet to the Head; Escape Plan; Grudge Match). Stallone currently holds the record for the most wins in this category, with 4, and the most nominations, with 14. However, Sandler has 3 wins from 9 nominations and could tie the former record on the night. Depp’s nomination is interesting because Klinton Spilsbury won this award for his role as the Lone Ranger in the 1981 film, so if Depp wins, both lead characters in the franchise will have picked up a trophy.
Former winners Halle Berry and Lindsay Lohan return to the Worst Actress category for their work on Movie 43 and The Canyons respectively, along with Selena Gomez (Getaway), Tyler Perry (A Madea Christmas) and Naomi Watts (Diana; Movie 43). Watts’ nomination for Diana must be especially painful as it is a role that was aimed at garnering an Oscar nomination. Perhaps the Academy did not get the memo.
Berry is one of only two actresses who ever showed up in person to collect her award, the other being Sandra Bullock. The two ladies may be Oscar winners, but it is nice to know they can laugh at themselves. Whether she will show up again remains to be seen. Perry, meanwhile, is the only man to garner multiple nominations in this category. It might be tongue-in-cheek, but it is interesting to see the Razzies choosing to identify with the character’s gender and not the actor’s. In some ways, that is more progressive than giving Jared Leto a supporting actor win for playing a transsexual woman.
The Razzies might have incurred the wrath of many an impressionable and fanatical young girl by nominating Taylor Lautner (Grown Ups 2) to go along with Chris Brown (Battle of the Year), Larry the Cable Guy (A Madea Christmas), Will Smith (After Earth) and Nick Swardson (Grown Ups 2) for Worst Supporting Actor. Fortunately for Lautner, he is likely to avoid winning the award twice in a row – having it picked it up for the final Twilight instalment last year – as the Razzies are known to not just reward bad acting but bad personal behaviour, making Brown a likely winner. (On a side note, Brooke Shields won this category once for her male alter-ego in Sahara, so the Razzies are definitely consistent with their gender recognition).
Salma Hayek (Grown Ups 2), Katherine Heigl (The Big Wedding), Kim Kardashian (Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counsellor), Lady Gaga (Machete Kills) and Lindsay Lohan (InAPPropriate Comedy; Scary Movie 5) round up the acting nominations in the Worst Supporting Actress category. Whoever wins will take home their first trophy, with Lohan and Gaga both being first-time nominees in this category.
Worst Picture sees After Earth, Grown Ups 2, The Lone Ranger, A Madea Christmas and Movie 43 vie for top honours. All five films are also up for Worst Screenplay and Worst Director, with Tyler Perry picking up a dual nomination in the latter category for his work on A Madea Christmas and Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counsellor.
Grown Ups 2 finishes far ahead of the pack with the most nominations, but it is very likely that After Earth might be the big winner of the night. M. Night Shyamalan’s epic of a failure did not go down very well with the Golden Raspberry Foundation and I cannot deny it would be quite satisfying to see the Smith family vanity project get a few deserving accolades. But that will have to wait. For the moment, the nominations will have to be satisfaction enough.