Updated 10 February 2020
The Golden Raspberry Awards (popularly known as 'Razzies') are alternative awards to the 'Oscars', Golden Globes and BAFTAs. 'Razzies' are given for lousy performances, films which bomb, worst on-screen chemistry, etc.
Once Upon a Time
The Golden Raspberry Awards, the brainchild of UCLA Motion Picture and TV Department member John Wilson1, were created in 1981 as a kind of respite from the usual 'luvvie' award ceremonies and seemingly-endless over-the-top acceptance speeches. The first 'Award Ceremony' was held in John Wilson's living room, with Can't Stop The Music (starring The Village People) winning the dubious honour of 'Best Worst film'.
'Razzies' have now earned a cult following of their own. Things have moved on since the first ceremony in Wilson's home. Thanks to sponsorship and publicity deals, prestigious venues such as the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel and the Penthouse Suite of the Sheraton Hotel, Santa Monica, California, have hosted ceremonies, which generally take place a day before the Academy Awards. The 'awards' in each available section are voted upon by the members of the Golden Raspberry Award Foundation, who actually are film professionals, journalists and movie fans, but should it be a close-run thing then the president gets the deciding vote.
Not all 'Razzie' nominees are abysmal performers; some recipients have won Academy Awards ('Oscars') for other work – including Ben Affleck, Roberto Benigni, Halle Berry, Marlon Brando, Kevin Costner, Faye Dunaway, Brian Helgeland, Charlton Heston, Liza Minnelli, Laurence Olivier, Prince and Robin Williams.
The 'Razzie' trophy itself is a plastic raspberry on top of a plastic film canister, sprayed gold; though tacky, the notoriety which goes along with it can be quite profitable. A broken trophy2 sold on an online auction website paid for the cost of hiring the room which hosted that year's Golden Raspberry Awards event.
Here Are The Nominations...
In the history of the 'Razzie' awards, only two actors have been nominated for both an 'Oscar' and a 'Razzie' for the same offering: James Coco for his performance in Only When I Laugh (1982); and Amy Irving for her contribution to Yentl (1984). Such extremes were evened out when neither were declared winners.
The following are a few examples taken over the past few years for purposes of discussion:
Ben Affleck and Kate Beckinsale or Josh Hartnett – 'Worst Screen Couple' in Pearl Harbour. This was an interesting pick because the nomination was as much for Affleck and Harnett (as friends who become rivals in love) as Affleck or Hartnett and Beckinsale. Absolutely beautiful actors that they are, they failed to ignite passion into their pairings even though the girl got two guys to set the screen on fire with.
3000 Miles to Graceland – aka 'Crime is King' starring Kurt Russell (as an Elvis impersonator), Kevin Costner, Courtney Cox and Christian Slater, was nominated for several 'Razzies' in 2001. The film had a good cast who couldn't do justice to the subject because of a poor script. Due to the weak plot and diabolical dialogue the actors often looked confused and Ice T was like a fish out of water. Apparently the character played by Kevin Costner had a death scene which was a redeeming factor and 3000 Miles to Graceland failed to win the 'Razzie'.
Mariah Carey's breasts – 'Worst Screen Couple' in Glitter. Self-explanatory really, Mariah's cleavage was on show so much it constantly distracted the viewer from critical analysis of the film. Reviewers complained of 'flat acting, weak songs and unlikeable characters' but it was OK if you liked a film about breasts. Rating an abysmal 2/10 for effort on a fan site, this pairing missed out on the 'Razzie' to John Travolta (and 'anyone who shared a screen with him' in Battlefield Earth), but Mariah still won the 'Razzie' for Worst Actress.
And The Winners Are...
Donald Trump won a Razzie in 1990 for playing himself in Ghosts Can't Do It. During the Razzie Awards ceremony in 2016, a Donald Trump impersonator3 reminded the audience of that fact. Trump himself could not appear due to being so busy campaigning for the presidency of the United States.
Some sequels, prequels and follow-ons are made to cash in on the original film's popularity. However this sometimes has an opposite effect, especially if the 'magic' of the first film is missing, which can be anything from a leading actor4 to just plain old atmosphere, or even inconsistent storylines and timelines. Speed 2: Cruise Control was nominated for eight 'Razzies' and won 'Worst Remake or Sequel', even though it featured original Speed actress Sandra Bullock (who slated the follow-up herself), no doubt missing her co-star Keanu Reeves.
The winner of the 1989 'Razzie' for 'Worst Picture', Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, was written and directed by Trek actor William Shatner ('James T Kirk'), following the two previous films Star Trek III: The Search For Spock and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (which had been directed by Shatner's co-star Leonard Nimoy). Some elements of the film did not gel with Star Trek's timelines and the studios' attempts to inject humour at the expense of the old beloved characters annoyed Trek fans. Even Star Trek creator, Gene Roddenberry, described the film as 'apocryphal at best'. Perhaps Shatner should have stuck to singing.
Bill Cosby – earned three 'Razzies' for a turkey called Leonard Part 6 and after slating it heartily himself on the inevitable round of chat shows, insisted he would accept his 'honours' only if they were solid gold. The network commissioned gold and marble statues costing around £15,000, and Cosby was duly presented with them live on The Late Show.
Sylvester Stallone – has had 30 nominations and won 10 'Razzies' in his career up to 2003. Details of those performances are best left for the author of an h2g2 Entry about Stallone to research. Update: gossip from the 2008 ceremony is that the committee are very excited about the upcoming Rambo sequel.
John Travolta – for Lucky Numbers and Battlefield Earth. When Travolta is good, he's very, very good. For example, he was nominated for a Golden Globe for his performance as Danny Zuko in one of the most popular musicals of all time, Grease5. But when he's bad, he's awful. Although, it's unfair to blame Travolta for the failure of Battlefield Earth all by himself, as his co-stars were no better, the plot was very poor, the production was inadequate and the script didn't do the book justice.
Worst Supporting Actor
Hayden Christensen won the 2006 Worst Supporting Actor 'Razzie' for his performance as Anakin 'Ani' Skywalker in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith. Somewhat bizarrely he was nominated for a Best Actor 'Saturn Award' for the same performance. (Saturns are specific awards for the science-fiction genre.) The original 1977 Star Wars film had 6'7" (2.01m) former weightlifting champion David Prowse playing the part of Darth Vader. Christensen was chosen to play the man who became Darth Vader because director George Lucas thought he had good on-screen chemistry with Natalie Portman, who co-starred as his lover Padmé, but even ardent fans struggled to believe the short-and-slender Christensen could possibly become the feared Sith Lord.
Worst On-screen Couple
Will Ferrell and Nicole Kidman in Bewitched – undoubtedly Ferrell and Kidman are good actors and this is reflected in their film earnings6. Unfortunately, pairing up two A-list actors as 'love interests' doesn't work if the couple don't have what is called 'on-screen chemistry'. The film bombed because the public were expecting an adaptation of the popular 1960s TV series – girl witch marries human male and all the ensuing comedic chaos of the two clashing worlds.
The film script had Kidman playing the witch, and Ferrell as falling star Jack Wyatt wanting to remake Bewitched starring himself as 'Darrin' and an unknown (Kidman) as 'Samantha'. Ferrell's character had no redeeming characteristics and it was too much for the audience to imagine that Kidman's character would fall in love with him. The stars could not make us believe in them because together they were unbelievable. There is no way to know what will work, you only know what doesn't work, and there was no magic in this pairing.
When Paul Verhoeven won this award for Showgirls in 1996, he was the first nominee in the history of the event to attend the presentation, and he accepted his trophy with good grace.
- Worst Picture in 2019 went to Holmes & Watson, which also won Razzies for Worst Remake, Rip-off or Sequel, Worst Director (Etan Cohen) and Worst Supporting Actor (John C Reilly, who played Dr Watson). We have deduced that cinemagoers didn't enjoy this Victorian-era comedy and they voted with their feet.
- Despite taking over $200m at the box office, The Emoji Movie waltzed off with Worst Picture in 2018. The film was described as 'a talking poop opus' when the winners were announced.
- The 2017 Worst Film winner was a first for a documentary. Hillary's America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party was panned by critics although it was a box office success. Garnering four Razzies in all, the co-writer and director Dinesh D'Souza won Worst Director and Worst Actor (as himself) and the Worst Actress award went to Rebekah Turner (who portrayed Hillary Clinton).
- Fifty Shades of Grey (2016) won Worst Screenplay, Worst Actor for Jamie Dornan, Worst Actress for Dakota Johnson and the pair also collected the Razzie for Worst Screen Couple. Luckily it tied with Fantastic Four for Worst Film or it would have swept the boards. Eddie Redmayne was judged Worst Supporting Actor for his role in Jupiter Ascending but we don't think he'll be that bothered considering he was also Oscar-nominated (though not for Jupiter Ascending).
- Saving Christmas (2015) won Worst Picture and Worst Actor for Kirk Cameron. It also garnered a zero rating on the Rotten Tomatoes website. Cameron Diaz won the Worst Actress award for her performances in The Other Woman and Sex Tape.
- Movie 43 (2014) won Worst Picture and only sci-fi flop After Earth saved it from more awards. Not even Hollywood royalty is safe from the Razzie committee, as the presence of Johnny Depp ('Tonto') couldn't prevent The Lone Ranger taking the award for Worst Remake or Sequel.
- Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 (2013) was awarded seven Razzies including Worst Picture, Worst Director (Bill Condon), Worst Supporting Actor (Taylor Lautner) and Worst Actress (Kristen Stewart for her performances in this and Snow White and the Huntsman).
- Jack and Jill (2012)
- The Last Airbender (2011) took five Razzies - Worst Picture, Worst Director (M Night Shyamalan), Worst Screenplay, Worst Supporting Actor (Jackson Rathbone), and a specially-created category for 2010: Worst Eye-Gouging Mis-Use of 3-D. Sex and the City 2 deserves a mention: it won Worst Prequel, Remake, Rip-off or Sequel (combined for 2010), and also Worst Actress - jointly for all four co-stars Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis, Cynthia Nixon and Sarah Jessica Parker.
- Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2010)
- The Love Guru (2009) won Razzies for Worst Picture, Worst Screenplay and Worst Actor - Mike Myers - he also co-wrote and produced the film.
- I Know Who Killed Me7 (2008) set a new Razzies record with eight awards, including a pair for Lindsey Lohan who played two parts in the film. Special mention went to Norbit which won all the rest of the awards bar one. Eddie Murphy carried off three (Worst Actor, Worst Supporting Actor and Worst Supporting Actress) for his multiple appearances in Norbit.
- Basic Instinct 2 (2007) picked up four awards: Worst Film, Worst Actress for Sharon Stone, Worst Screenplay and also Worst Sequel.
- Dirty Love (2006)
- Catwoman (2005)
- Gigli (2004)
- Swept Away (2003)
- Freddy Got Fingered (2002)
- Battlefield Earth (scored an unprecedented 93% of the vote in 2001) - it was also awarded a special Razzie for 'Worst Picture of the Decade' for the Noughties at the Razzies ceremony in 2010.
- Wild Wild West (2000)
- Burn Hollywood Burn (1999)
- The Postman (1998)
- Striptease (1997)
- Showgirls (won a record-breaking seven 'Razzie' awards in 1996)
- Colour of Night (1995)
- Indecent Proposal (1994)
- Shining Through (1993)
- Hudson Hawk (1992)
- Ghosts Can't Do It (joint with The Adventures of Ford Fairlane) (1991)
- Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1990)
- Cocktail (1989)
- Leonard Part 6 (1988)
- Howard the Duck (joint with Under the Cherry Moon) (1987)
- Rambo: First Blood Part II (1986)
- Bolero (1985)
- The Lonely Lady (1984)
- Inchon (1983)
- Mommie Dearest (1982)
- Can't Stop The Music (1981)
The Governor's Award is given to a film which is considered that year's 'turkey' (or 'bomb'). This can be for any reason, from bad editing, overall poor acting, mismatched scripts with personalities or poor/unbelievable special-effects. This is generally judged on the whole film, even though the film may be a financial success because of the subject matter or the actors' fan-bases. Then there are those who don't read reviews or do read them but choose to ignore the critics, or wish to make up their own mind, so fork out for tickets anyway. Not everyone slated Catwoman for instance: Halle Berry fans and devotees of skin-tight superhero outfits were very happy with the film.
'Material Girl' Madonna has been named 'Worst Actress of the Century' (the 21st) thanks to film performances including: Body of Evidence, Shanghai Surprise, Swept Away and The Next Best Thing. Maybe she ought to stick to her day job, whatever that is.
For his bizarre comments and behaviour8 in 2005, the 'Razzies' started a brand new category: 'Most Tiresome Tabloid Target', and designated Tom Cruise the first recipient.
So How Do The Recipients React?
It's safe to say these awards are mostly ignored by the Hollywood elite, or at least they pretend to ignore them. One gutsy actress, though, broke all the unwritten rules. Not only did the nominated Halle Berry turn up at the 'Razzie' ceremony, she accepted her Worst Actress award, then made a gushing over-the-top speech:
They can't take this away from me, it's got my name on it! Thanks to everyone involved in Catwoman, a film which took me from the top of my profession to the bottom. I also want to thank Warner Brothers for casting me in this piece of sh*t, and to my agent; next time read the script first.
Such a glorious send-up of herself and the industry brought the house down, and Halle will undoubtedly remain a 'good sport' in the eyes of many for a very long time.
Recipients don't usually turn up to accept their awards, but following Halle Berry's lead five years previously, Sandra Bullock not only showed up in March 2010 to receive her award for Worst Actress of 2009 but also treated audience members to a DVD copy of the film each because: 'Something tells me you all didn't watch the film because I wouldn't be here if you really, really watched it and understood what I was trying to say'. She promised to return next year if they all promised to watch the film. Sandra received a standing ovation from the delighted audience, which is more than can be said for the film All About Steve in which her character, blonde crossword compiler Mary Horowitz, becomes an accident-prone stalker after a one-night stand with a local TV cameraman. Sandra was simultaneously nominated for Best Actress at the Oscars for The Blind Side; no doubt she was overwhelmed to collect the golden statuette following her Razzies sensation, creating history in the process for her twin success.
The Redeemer Award
In 2015, a brand new category was created for Ben Affleck. The Redeemer Award was in recognition of turning around his career-low Worst Actor Razzie for Gigli to bagging an Oscar and a brace of Golden Globes and BAFTAs for his film Argo, which he directed and starred in. At the time of writing there is no response from Mr Affleck, and the voting committee are not holding their collective breath in expectation of him collecting his freshly-minted award.