10 mystifying Razzie nominations

Top 10 Ryan Lambie 22 Jan 2014 - 05:51

Like any awards ceremony, the Razzies can sometimes make some bizarre decisions. Here's our pick of 10 mystifying nominations...

Established in 1981, the Golden Raspberry Awards have grown from a tiny ceremony hosted in founder John JB Wilson's living room into their own Hollywood institution. Intended as an antidote to the self-congratulation and glitz of awards season fixtures like the Oscars or the Golden Globes, the Razzies aim to single out the worst films, screenplays and performances of the preceding year, serving up an irreverent parody of Hollywood's vanity and excess.

Sometimes, the Razzie choices aren't too far off the mark. Few would argue against Battlefield Earth's 2000 win for Worst Picture, or that the impenetrably murky The Last Airbender didn't deserve the amusingly-titled award for Worst Eye-Gouging Misuse of 3D.

There have been some really worthwhile categories on occasion, too, like Worst Movie Trends of the Year, where the nominations included 'Longer Movies, Shorter Plots' and 'spoiler-filled trailers' ('58-year-old leading men wooing 28-year-old leading ladies' ultimately won).

But like any awards ceremony, the Razzies sometimes makes some mystifying decisions, which appear to be informed either by massive box office success or failure rather than a film's lack of merit. Which might explain the inclusion of the following...

Stanley Kubrick - The Shining (1980)

Mystifying inclusions were ingrained in the Razzies from the very beginning. At the 1st Golden Raspberry Awards, The Shining was nominated for two awards - Shelley Duvall  for Worst Actress and Stanley Kubrick for Worst Director. The nominations reflect the horror film's initially mixed reception, and voters took the opportunity to thumb the nose at a director who'd long since established himself as a master of his medium. And while we should bear in mind that the Razzies still consisted of a relatively tiny group of people at this point, the subsequent reassessment of The Shining as a grand horror classic makes its inclusion in the 1981 list of nominees look all the more glaring.

Michael Cimino - Heaven's Gate (1980)

The second Razzies nominee list was largely dominated by Franco Zeffirelli's Endless Love, a swooning romance that was widely panned by critics. Among the less obvious names on the list were Wes Craven's rural horror Deadly Blessing (Ernest Borgnine was nominated for Worst Actor) and cult horror in the making Hell Night (Linda Blair got a nod for Worst Actress).

The most persistent film on the Razzie list, meanwhile, was Heaven's Gate, Michael Cimino's astonishingly long western which infamously bombed. The passing of time has allowed critics to look on the film more favourably in recent years, and to modern eyes, nominating Michael Cimino for Worst Director (which he subsequently won) seems a touch cruel - and an example, perhaps, of how quickly filmmakers can slide from veneration to ridicule.

Ennio Morricone - The Thing (1982)

Having had one of the best films of his career torn apart by critics and then underperform at the box office, director John Carpenter then had the indignity of having the theme music for The Thing nominated for Worst Original Score.

The nomination seems doubly bizarre when you consider that not only was The Thing's music composed by the great Ennio Morricone, but it was also an absolutely perfect murmuring backwash to Carpenter's flesh-rending horror.

Brian De Palma - Scarface (1983)

Brian De Palma's aggressive, excessive gangster drama received some harsh criticism on release, but like The Shining, it's since been hailed as a classic. The Razzies, cleaving to the weight of critical opinion surrounding Scarface in 1983, promptly nominated Brian De Palma for Worst Director, placing him in the ignominious company of Joe Alves and his tackily entertaining killer shark sequel, Jaws 3-D.

Sylvester Stallone - Rocky IV (1985)

Trawling back through the history of the Razzies, it becomes evident that Sylvester Stallone's something of an easy target when it comes to nominations. Sly was Awarded Worst Actor of the Decade in 1990, was nominated for Worst Actor for his roles in Oscar and Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot, while Cliffhanger was nominated for Worst Picture in 1994.

Stallone has therefore become something of a running joke among the Razzies' voters, with his name appearing to turn up more regularly than just about any other actor. Take a look at the 6th Golden Raspberry list, for example: in total, Stallone's films Rambo: First Blood Part II and Rocky IV were nominated for a startling 15 awards, including Worst Picture and Worst Screenplay.

Now, while we can't argue that Rambo: First Blood Part II or Rocky IV are particularly intellectual, artistic films, they succeeded in what they set out to do: they're both unashamedly loud, populist pieces of entertainment.

Rocky IV, in particular, featured a talking robot, James Brown and some of the most quotable lines of any movie from the 1980s. While we can see why Rocky IV's sheer trashiness would earn it some Razzie attention, we'd argue that it was far from the worst film of 1985 - in fact, it's one of the ones we still return to from time to time, though that's partly because it's on TV so often.

Danny DeVito - Batman Returns (1992)

The list of nominees for the 13th Razzies (held in 1993) contained relatively few surprises, featuring as it did a selection of notorious flops (Christopher Columbus: The Discovery appeared in several categories) as well as one of the year's biggest and most commonly lampooned hits, Basic Instinct. The most curious choice on that list was undoubtedly Danny DeVito's nomination for Worst Supporting Actor in Tim Burton's Batman Returns. Granted, it was a heightened, bizarre performance - and genuinely villainous, we'd argue - but then, Batman Returns was a heightened, bizarre film. Fortunately, sense prevailed and Tom Selleck's rather iffy turn as King Ferdinand of Spain in Christopher Columbus: The Discovery ultimately won.

Sandra Bullock - Demolition Man (1993)

In line with the Razzies' continued obsession with Sly Stallone's action movies, both Cliffhanger and Demolition Man were prominent fixtures on the 1994 list of nominees. But among the understandable mentions for such cheesy erotic thrillers as Sliver and Body Of Evidence, Sandra Bullock got a Worst Supporting Actress nomination for Demolition Man.

Given that Bullock was essentially playing the quirky love interest role in an action vehicle for Stallone and Wesley Snipes, we'd argue that her performance here was perfectly judged: hers is, after all, a deceptively tricky character to get right. Lieutenant Lenina Huxley is a cop in a pacifist future city where guns, sex, alcohol, swearing and caffeine have all been outlawed, yet she harbours a fascination for the tough, brutal cops of 80s and 90s action cinema.

When Stallone's 90s cop and Snipes' 90s psycho are thawed out and wage a miniature war among the squeaky-clean streets of San Angeles, Huxley's thrilled to find herself in the midst of her own geek fantasy. Bullock cheerfully dives right into this knowlingly daft scenario, and her turn as Huxley is just right for the film. The worst supporting actress of 1993? Hardly.

Sandra Bullock won a Golden Raspberry in 2009 for her performance in All About Steve. Given that most actors don't bother to turn up to collect their award in person, Bullock's appearance - and speech - was a truly class act:


Heather Donahue - The Blair Witch Project (1999)

Eduardo Sanchez and Daniel Myrick's The Blair Witch Project would go on to define the found-footage horror genre for years to come, and even 15 years later, we're still feeling the ripples from its impact, both in movies and the way they're marketed.

Of the film's small ensemble cast, Heather Donahue was the most prominent, and her terrified, direct-to-camera speech was The Blair Witch's dramatic centrepiece, and one of 1999's most memorable images. In a film that demanded a documentary-like sense of realism (it was originally a hoax, after all) Donahue's performance was extremely convincing. So why did she end up winning a Razzie for Worst Actress? Her big mistake, it seemed, was in happening to appear in a film that ended up grossing almost $250m.

Tom Cruise - War Of The Worlds (2005)

Steven Spielberg's War Of The Worlds was unfortunate enough to coincide with Tom Cruise's couch-jumping antics on the Oprah Winfrey Show, not to mention his public comments about psychiatry (he said it should be "outlawed") and his much-fussed-about relationship with Katie Holmes. Tom Cruise's nomination for Worst Actor could therefore be read as a reaction to his mid-2000s tabloid infamy rather than his work in Spielberg's alien invasion adaptation, which was perfectly serviceable.

Johnny Depp - The Lone Ranger (2013)

There were undeniably problems with last year's The Lone Ranger, but on the other hand, it certainly wasn't the disaster that some of its more aggressive critics suggested, either. The Lone Ranger's slow business at the box office, and its widespread (though not unanimous) critical derision, made its presence on this year's Razzies list easy to predict. But does The Lone Ranger really deserve five nominations, including Worst Picture? We'd certainly argue it doesn't, and neither does Johnny Depp deserve a nomination for Worst Actor.

Once again, it seems as though Razzie voters are simply going for box office failures rather than genuinely bad films. Despite its flaws, we suspect that The Lone Ranger will be one of those movies that is looked back on a little more kindly in a few years' time, and could ultimately make its prominence on the 34th Razzies list almost as mystifying as The Shining's inclusion more than three decades ago.

Honourable mentions:

The Hunchback Of Notre Dame (nominee for Worst Written Film Grossing Over $100m), Richard Pryor in Superman III (Worst Supporting Actor - really?), Kevin Costner in Wyatt Earp (an undeserved Worst Actor win), Zelda Rubinstein in Poltergeist II (Worst Supporting Actress).

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Danny DeVito's Penguin is a work of genius. A Burgess Meredith style Penguin just wouldn't have worked in that context. I thought it was a well judged and genuinely creepy performance. Still, could be worse. My nose could be gushing blood ...

"Richard Pryor in Superman III (Worst Supporting Actor - really?)"

Yes... really.

I find it increasingly hard to watch that film as it is just so.,.so...bad, time does it no favours and when the heck did the penguin become a green goo spewing mayoral candidate. You could forgive the plot points that go no where (power plant) or the magic cats but it just gets worse every watch and DeVitos performance was over the top in the extreme..'I'd like to show her my french flipper trick' It was more a Tim Burton film that happened to have Batman in it

So am I the only one who really liked the Lone Ranger. It does definitely have flaws, but the film was great fun. Especially the last 15 minutes of the film.

I love The Lone Ranger. Great story. My favorite blockbuster-style film in 2013 and one of the best films I've seen in recent years. Really no sense talking about its flaws. Most films have flaws.

Some of these nominations don't strike me as all that mystifying. I've always had a bit of a problem with Scarface. I think it's a hugely over-rated movie. Brian De Palma, despite being a bit of a misogynist a bit of a plagiarist, has made some decent movies. Carlito's way, for instance, also features Al Pacino and some over-the-top performances, but I think it is a vastly superior piece. Scarface get's all the attention and I, for one, don't get it.

The Razzies would be an opportunity to gently prick the pomposity of the movie industry and let them have a good laugh at themselves, much like the Ig-Nobel Awards do in the academic world. Instead, they're nasty and reactionary; like a bully who picks on an unpopular kid without taking the time to actually learn anything about them.

Also Rocky IV is amazing. Rocky punches Communism to death and Paulie gets a robot. Come on, what's not to love about that?!

Rocky IV - Best. Soundtrack. Ever.

I loved Demolitioan Man. Yes it pretty standard action fare. But Snipes potrayel of Simon is spot on, and Sandra's character was acted well. Well done for accepting the award and making the speech in 09 as well.

correct me if I am wrong, but didn't Burton want to do Two-Face with Billy Dee Williams, but the movie studio had already signed DeVito and just lumbered him with it and told him to get on with it? I would agree, the penguin was just painful to watch. I thought the penguin was called the penguin because he dressed like one not because he was raised by penguins in Gotham sewers of all places, in some weird tarzan style story.


I agree I didn't really like Scarface either. But Razzies for the Thing and the Shining is mystifying.

I think Billy Dee was to be Two face in the third and was paid off to allow them to cast Tommy Lee, but not sure.
Yeah the Penguin in BR was very far away from the comics as was the magical cat woman

Too much CGI in my book. Especially in the last 15 minutes. The jumps between the trains are so fake, it borders on trashy. For the rest of the movie: very uneven pacing, some really great moments, but all in all very mediocre. Better watch "The good, the bad and the weird" instead. That's one hell of a funny Western!
Just my two cents.

The Razzies are all about generating as much publicity for themselves as possible. This is why you get obscure selections or heavy multiple-award winners.

The true "worst of 2013 in Film" would be a bunch of stuff that no heard of or saw. But that wouldn't get the headlines, so big budget movies are the way forward.

What's more mystifying is the fact that Die Hard 5 appears nowhere on this year's list.

Is Sandra Bullock the only person to win an Oscar and a Razzie in the same year? Genuine qu...

I agree. But that's not a bad thing, in my opinion.

I completely agree, It's not as bad as Batman and Robin, but I think Batman Forever is a better film than Batman Returns.

Richard Pryor is Richard Pryor. He has been in some great movies and some bad ones, but I don't think his performance is that much better in one as compared to another.

I have to go against you here. I thought War of the Worlds was utterly dreadful.

The worst moment was the part where all the helicopters were flying towards the super, mega, ultra, massive battle JUST OVER THAT HILL OVER THERE, but of course we headed in the opposite direction and huddled in yet another enclosed space for what felt like the umpteenth time.

One of the very very few films I've ever seen at the cinema where I wanted to walk out before it was finished.

With you there. I love it because I watched it a lot as a young'un. But seeing it nowadays - there is just so much that ISNT very Batman - to be honest... Neither's the first one.

Still love them though. Rose tinted glasses.

Seconded. Demolition Man is superb, knowing, spot on about how the near future might look (they've all got iPads!) and sound (in terms of the new Puritans). It's a brilliantly judged satire, and rip-roaring action flick too.

Agree, Carlito's Way is superb, poignant and has real heart. Scarface is highly inferior and all bluster.

In this one he was OTT. And it's probably not entirely his fault, as Richard Lester was much more interested in slapstick comedy and silly laughs, than in giving the world a good superman film! It was an extraneous part in the first place, but giving it to a comedian spoke volumes about the difference between Donner and Lester.

That's the first time I've seen Bullock's acceptance speech, was indeed a classy move.

I'd probably agree the Cruise nomination for WOW is harsh but the film really did fall flat in my opinion.

Best montages too! Sergei Eisenstein would be proud.

I'd say Batman Forever was probably the better of the four to be honest, in a fun, comic booky, family entertainment sense.

But B&R is just.. well, we all know what it is..

I find it odd that its directors never made anything before or since as Demolition Man is fantastic fun.
maybe he was fined too many credits on the verbal morality act ;)

Can't stand Scarface, it's trash in comparison to The Godfather, Once Upon A Time In America etc.

Tom Cruise in 'War of the Worlds' was a fair nomination, I think. He's a decent enough leading man usually, but despite the film itself being pretty decent, he was definitely the weak link in it.

Batman Forever was at least cohesive, BR had no cohesion, no real motive for the villains, plots that were dropped, a tiny little 'city' and so much more

On The Thing nomination, maybe the Razzies were just a bit behind the times when it came to synth heavy soundtracks? The following year Tangerine Dream's fantastically atmospheric soundtrack for Michael Mann's Thief also got a nomination.

SPOILERS: I was more annoyed by the 'hoo-rah' marine moment, where they destroy a walker after the alien threat has already been wiped out by the common cold. The whole point of the story was that our weapons and armies were ineffectual; to have that scene seemed like a case of pandering to the armed forces so they didn't get stroppy.

love batman returns not sure why thats nominated

"The worst moment was the part where all the helicopters were flying towards the super, mega, ultra, massive battle JUST OVER THAT HILL OVER THERE, but of course we headed in the opposite direction and huddled in yet another enclosed space for what felt like the umpteenth time."
Actually that was a great directorial choice. Showing the battle would have been pretty easy with today's CGI. Not showing it, because the imagination will always conjure up something better than an effects team can, was the better choice.
Nothing in that film is poorer than Robbie showing up at the end anyway.

The Blair Witch Project is one of the worst films i have ever seen,absolute garbage

The Blair Witch Project is one of the worst films ever made. Completely worthless waste of my time. And my money. Never have I left a film more thoroughly conned out of my money than I did for that one. I even paid for my brother to see it at the same time. He spent the entire time checking his watch waiting to see if the film was ending soon and I was bored rigid and thoroughly unengaged from almost ten minutes in. Utter utter crap and it deserves to be at the top of every Razzie ever! The thing however is an absolute gem and is now considered one of the 50 best films ever made.

A... Men. Preaching to the choir. Who doesn't love Demolition Man ^^

Wow. I didn't realise so many people were down on this film. Everyone has different tastes, I guess e.g. Heath Ledger's Joker annoyed the hell out of me with all the constant slurping. Personally, I love Batman Returns. Keaton is my favourite Batman, Michelle Pfeiffer is the hottest Catwoman and its just so off the wall and nuts. I think that if you grew up knowing no other Batman than Adam West, you would appreciate what a departure it was with the darkness Tim Burton brought to his films. To have a Batman who lived in the shadows was incredibly cool and it was just so jarring to then be subjected to the outrageous camp of the Schumacher films. If they go for a more overt comic book realisation for the Ben Affleck Batman it may suffer similarly when compared to the Dark Knight trilogy. But then only one Batman film has the added bonus of some Christopher Walken magic.

like yourself I grew up on Adam West and I did enjoy BR, but over time it just gets me how daft and camp it is, arguably it's almost as camp as forever (but not B&R). Magic cats that bring the dead back to life a deformed penguin with green blood. Batman doesn't even appear until 20 minutes in. There arer loads of good pieces online that rip it apart. Kevin smith did a podcast commentary for it a few month ago on his Fatman on Batman show and they really go to town on it, worth listening too

I have to wholeheartedly agree with the Razzies on the topic of Scarface. How that over the top cinematic nightmare can be considered a "classic" is beyond me.

Brian Helgeland. Won for writing LA Confidential and The Postman.

Interesting - thanks!

Considering that the Twilight films are finished, the Razzies may have to work a little harder this year...

You're not alone. I missed it last summer - mostly because of the reviews, and only saw it on download a couple of weeks ago. I loved it, especially the last 15 minutes, which was the best cartoon-action sequence I've see for years.

I agree i'm getting fed up of green screen just because they can. Saying that its not really me genre westerns. Prefer a comedy or a good sci-fi flick

1) ROCKY IV dserved to win. it ruined the franchise. Stallone wasn't even playing ROCKY anymore.
2) You're kind of right about Cruise. Katie Holmes was also nominated that year for BATMAN BEGINS, and they won a special Razzie for "Worst Tabloid Target". However, Cruise performance in W.O.T.W. was weak.
3) You can't compare LONE RANGER to those other movies. There were misunderstood because people didn't get what they were trying to do. What's there to get about this one? Its flaws are obvious and they've been pointed out by people. Also, the world of communications has improved so much that nowadays a concensus on a movie is much more believable, unlike the days with no internet. Finally, Depp did deserve his nomination. He's usually good at playing goofy characters, but this time, he was goofying around on set. Big difference. It felt like he wasn't taking the movie seriously.
4) Richard Pryor's casting in SUPERMAN 3 was already a bad idea. However, he's somehow less annoying than Margot Kidder.
5) The performances in WYATT EARP were unmemorable, but not terrible. And I don't think the movie overall deserved a Worst Picture nomination.


Catwoman was the only redeeming quality of the movie, Pfeiffer did a good job if you ask me, but the rest of the movie was just too bizarre.

erm... this was an ...erm... tribute, yes... a tribute... to erm... that .erm... classic film...erm... Gone With The Wind. er... yes, that's it, indeed... why?.... (good question, by the way)...well, ermmm. the-uh-the erm, US Civil War was happening, kind of, way over there... a bit... beyond Tara and... erm... Atlanta; and ...uh,, the big battles, and ...er... yes, even the bit where Captain Butler saves KKK-member Ashley Wilkes, also take(s) place, as it... erm... were, just over that, uh, hill thing... also ....over there..... So, easily explained and forgivable.

People vented their frustrations of not seeing the Blair witch on Heather Donahue and considering she kept filming when they were lost made audiences dislike her as much as her crewmates but no way she deserved a nomination for worst actress let alone winning it.

Damn.....what is with the Razzies and Stallone either getting nominated or winning one? Do they have some kind of vendetta against him or something? Also...The Shining? Really? I know Stephen King himself hated it but still...that was bizarre.

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