The Golden Raspberry Awards, more affectionately referred to as the Razzies, is an annual award ceremony that celebrates the very worst of American film-making. Held one day before the Academy Awards, the Razzies have established themselves as part of the American pop culture landscape. But, as with any award, disputes have broken out over the fairness of certain nominations. In fact, the very legitimacy of the Razzies has been called into question several times concerning films that were nominated but went on to become classics. The Shining, The Thing, and Scarface are perhaps the most notorious recipients of Razzie nominations. None of those films actually won though, unlike the ten on our list that, in our humble opinion, were undeserving.
10. Fahrenheit 9/11
Awarded Worst Screen Couple (George W. Bush and Either Condoleezza Rice or His Pet Goat)
Michael Moore’s highly controversial Fahrenheit 9/11, a documentary on the presidency of George W. Bush, his response to 9/11, and the ensuing invasion of Iraq, was nominated for five Razzie Awards and managed to walk home with four of them. None of these nominations were fair considering that the film was a documentary — these awards were given for purely political reasons in protest of the Bush Administration and the Iraq War. But of all of the Razzies Fahrenheit 9/11 won, none were more undeserved than Worst Onscreen Couple. It’s not just because the award was politically motivated, but because it stole the award from the film that truly deserved it.
The Award Should Have Gone To: Shawn and Marlon Wayans In or Out of Drag (White Chicks)
The Wayan Brothers’ White Chicks, a film about two black cops who go undercover as white female socialites in the Hamptons, wasn’t just one of the year’s worst comedies. It was one of the worst films of the decade, boasting an absurd premise, horrific make-up and prosthetics, and a plethora of grotesque racial and sexual stereotypes. Not only were the “white girl” disguises hideous to look at, but the actors who wore them, Shawn and Marlon Wayans, delivered performances that can best be described as reverse minstrel shows. There isn’t a single moment of believable (let alone digestible) chemistry between the two. Every second they are onscreen is cloyingly obnoxious.
9. Lady in the Water
Awarded Worst Director (M. Night Shyamalan)
We’re not going to discuss whether or not M. Night Shyamalan’s Lady in the Water is an unjustly hated film (although we will mention that the film does have its supporters, having been named one of the best films of 2006 by the notable film magazine Cahiers du Cinema). But what we will say is that the film does have a consistent directorial vision. Lady in the Water comes across as a kind of post-modern fairy tale with a deconstructionist narrative approach. Whether or not the end result was any good is fair game for debate. But it can’t be denied that Shyamalan managed to maintain a persistent atmosphere and tone.
The Award Should Have Gone To: Uwe Boll (BloodRayne)
Uwe Boll’s BloodRayne claims to be an adaptation of the video game franchise about a human/vampire hybrid named Rayne who hunts down an evil Vampire King who raped and murdered her mother. But the film is a chaotic mess of nonsensical plot points, terrible acting and abysmal gore effects. BloodRayne feels like its own porn parody minus (most) of the porn. There’s no consistency to its narrative arc and it fails to come together as a cohesive whole.
8. The Blair Witch Project
Awarded Worst Actress (Heather Donahue)
It seems inexplicable that Heather Donahue could win an award for Worst Actress for her performance in The Blair Witch Project. After all, the film wasn’t meant to contain the kind of acting performances that Hollywood had come to expect from actresses. Donahue was supposed to act like an actual film student thrust into a nightmarish situation who experiences extreme shock and emotional trauma. The only reasonable explanation for Donahue receiving a Razzie Award was that it was an extension of the cultural and critical backlash against the film when it was first released.
The Award Should Have Gone To: Sharon Stone (Gloria)
It wasn’t bad enough that Hollywood had to remake John Cassavetes’ perfectly fine Gloria, a film about a gangster’s girlfriend on the run from the mob with a young child. No, they had to also cast Sharon Stone as the eponymous lead character and wring a miserable, scenery-chewing performance out of her. Sindey Lumet’s Gloria is a bad film weighed down by an even worse lead performance.
7. Hudson Hawk
Awarded Worst Picture
The worst thing that Michael Lehmann’s Hudson Hawk can be accused of is being too ambitious. The story of an American burglar who is forced by the CIA and a couple of deranged billionaires to steal pieces of an alchemy machine from various locations in Italy tried to be a) a heist movie, b) an action-adventure thriller, c) a slapstick comedy, and d) a pseudo-musical. Although the film fails to cohere as a whole, many of its individual elements work perfectly fine: several of the action sequences are fantastic, Bruce Willis’ performance as the eponymous burglar is charismatic and enjoyable, and his method of timing his heists via show-tunes is surprisingly brilliant.
The Award Should Have Gone To: Cool as Ice
David Kellogg’s Cool as Ice is essentially a 90-minute music video/ego trip for early ’90s rapper Vanilla Ice. In between a number of truly awful musical productions is a mish-mash plot involving Ice’s romance with a good-girl honors student, two corrupt cops, a kidnapping and the Witness Protection program. The only bright spot in this film is the colorful cinematography, but even that’s sidelined by the terrible music and meandering narrative.
Awarded Worst Picture
There’s a lot that can be said about Roger Donaldson’s Cocktail. Some may find its story about a young New York City bartender and his many romantic conquests and business pursuits as trite and needlessly melodramatic. But the film did strike a chord with the American viewing public, pulling in a whopping $171+ million at the box office. Of course, there are a lot of terrible movies that make a lot of money. But unlike many other bad movies that strike it rich, Cocktail has aged remarkably well due in no small part to Tom Cruise’s magnetic lead performance and the film’s catchy ’80s soundtrack.
The Award Should Have Gone To: Caddyshack II
Do you want to know a film which hasn’t aged well? Caddyshack II. This abominable sequel to one of the most original comedy films of all time managed to suck all of the charisma and originality from its predecessor while having the gall to replace the legendary Rodney Dangerfield with a mugging Jackie Mason. The producers should have known they had a turkey on their hands when Bill Murray refused to return. Unlike Cocktail, Caddyshack II was a terrible film when it was first released and an even worse film today.
5. The Love Guru
Awarded Worst Picture
The Love Guru was a racially insensitive and horrifically miscalculated comedy that featured Mike Myers as the eponymous Guru Maurice Pitka, a man hired to help people undergoing extreme anxiety resulting from romantic problems to relax. Not only was The Love Guru attacked for its insulting depiction of Hinduism, it severely damaged Myers’ career. But despite these things, The Love Guru didn’t deserve to win the Razzie Award for Worst Picture.
The Award Should Have Gone To: Disaster Movie and Meet the Spartans
If Airplane! represented the zenith of the spoof comedy genre, then Disaster Movie and Meet the Spartans represent its nadir. Alternatively racist, homophobic, and idiotic, these two films by Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer operate under the assumption that the keys to spoof comedy are to cram in as many arbitrary pop culture references and moments of revolting shock humor as possible. Disaster Movie and Meet the Spartans aren’t just bad comedies — they’re insults to the cinematic medium and to the very concept of comedy itself.
4. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2
Awarded Worst Picture
Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight Saga was the franchise that everyone (expect its target audience, of course) loved to hate. So when the last film in the series, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 was released, it was received with much fanfare by the critical establishment. Finally, their nightmare was over. It was promptly awarded seven Razzies, including Worst Picture. But in their rush to wash their hands of Meyer’s opus, they lost sight of the fact that it wasn’t the worst film released in 2012. No, that distinction goes to…
The Award Should Have Gone To: That’s My Boy
This may be difficult to believe, but That’s My Boy may in fact be the single worst film Adam Sandler has ever starred in. Not only is it painfully unfunny and uncomfortably mean-spirited, but the entire film revolves around a single idea: child molestation is awesome. A 13-year-old boy named Donny Berger becomes an overnight celebrity after being caught having sex with his adult teacher. Not only does his life become a media circus (especially after it’s revealed that the teacher got pregnant), but he becomes the object of adoration for millions. The rest of the film is a “comedy” about Donny trying to reconnect with his adult son decades later.
Not once does the film challenge the idea that statutory rape is cool if you’re a boy. If this film had been made about a 13-year-old girl who got knocked up by her middle-aged teacher, people would have been protesting in the streets and calling for Sandler’s head. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 may have been a terrible ending to a terrible franchise, but at least it didn’t celebrate and propagate rape culture.
3. Jaws: The Revenge
Awarded Worst Visual Effects
Let’s get one thing straight right off the bat: the special effects in Jaws: The Revenge are terrible. Not only do the giant shark models look cheap and cobbled together (there are several shots where you can see where the rubber has literally been stitched together) but many times the cables and tracks that were used to control them can be seen. But despite all of these glaring flaws, Jaws: The Revenge didn’t deserve to win the Razzie for Worst Visual Effects. Why? Because it was nominated alongside…
The Award Should Have Gone To: The Garbage Pail Kids Movie
The Garbage Pail Kids Movie was based on a line of trading cards that were marketed for their disturbing and disgusting images. So in a twist that surprised absolutely nobody, the ensuing film was a kaleidoscope of nauseating images and puppets. The film centers on a group of “children” who live in a garbage can, and each has a crippling disability involving gross bodily discharges and/or personality disorders. These “children” were created with horrific life-sized puppets that could never quite close their mouths. Vomit, slime and snot constantly flowed from the puppets as well. Jaws: The Revenge may have had terrible effects, but at least they didn’t make their audiences physically ill.
2. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Awarded Worst Prequel, Remake, Rip-off or Sequel
It’s very easy to denigrate Steven Spielberg’s fourth entry in the Indiana Jones franchise, The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Overloaded with preposterous CGI action sequences such as Shia LeBeouf going full Tarzan with a troop of monkeys, absurd plot points (atomic fridges, anyone?), and a bizarre ending involving aliens, the film has quickly come to be seen as the weakest entries in the series. But while it doesn’t measure up to the other three films, The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull still tried to tell an engaging story in an exciting way. The same can’t be said for…
The Award Should Have Gone To: Disaster Movie and Meet the Spartans
It may be cheating to include these films a second time, but they deserve every modicum of derision and hatred they can get. The only decent explanation for why these two abominations by Friedberg and Seltzer didn’t take home this Razzie is that people were too hurt by feelings of betrayal concerning The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. And quite frankly, that isn’t fair. Disaster Movie and Meet the Spartans are two of the worst movies of the entire decade. Between both films there isn’t a single funny joke, a single enjoyable moment, or a single scene that doesn’t insult the intelligence of its audience.
1. Mommie Dearest
Awarded Worst Picture, Worst Actress, Worst Supporting Actor, Worst Supporting Actress, Worst Screenplay, Worst Picture of the Decade (1980s)
The fact that Mommie Dearest, a biographical film about actress Joan Crawford and her abusive relationship with her two adopted children, won six Razzie Awards is nothing short of criminal. At the time critics dismissed this frank and terrifying portrayal of mental illness and child abuse as a piece of camp cinema. But that isn’t fair, and recently some critics have begun to re-evaluate the film as a bona fide classic. The film’s greatest sin was its unwillingness to tone the performances of its actors down. But considering that there was eye-witness evidence of Crawford abusing her children and there’s a growing scientific consensus that Crawford may have suffered from Borderline Personality Disorder, it would seem that if Frank Perry had made his actors dial down the intensity of their performances it would have been unrepresentative of their real life counterparts.
The Award Should Have Gone To: Heaven’s Gate
Michael Cimino’s four hour Western about the doomed Johnson County War may have its supporters, but its lasting impact on the industry is nearly unforgivable. After Cimino’s tyrannical production more than doubled its original budget, it only managed to gross $1.3 million. The film’s unprecedented financial loss destroyed United Artists, all but annihilated the Western genre, and brought the Hollywood New Wave to a crashing halt by forcing major studios to take creative control out of the hands of innovative directors like Francis Ford Coppola, William Friedkin, and Martin Scorsese. Even worse, the film didn’t have the common decency to be any good. Rambling, unfocused, dreary and glacial in pace, Heaven’s Gate isn’t a movie, it’s a punishment afflicted upon its audience.