The party is over for another year. The chairs have all been stacked on the tabletops, and white dust sheets draped on top. The rubbish has been swept away, collected, and no doubt dumped on some site that was, until relatively recently, an unrivalled place of outstanding natural beauty. The red carpet has been rolled up, carried away, and dumped unceremoniously in a store room somewhere to be gnawed at by rats, and otherwise forgotten about until next year. Yes, it’s true. The Oscars are over for another year.
But don’t be sad, for Hollywood’s other night of nights is almost upon us. One which is perhaps not anticipated with quite the same level of rabid enthusiasm as the Oscars, but nonetheless, one which after thirty two years has become a night every bit as noteworthy. I refer of course to the annual Golden Raspberry Awards, better known to the wider movie-going community as the “Razzies”. They serve as the evil twin to the Oscars. While the widely publicised Oscars celebrate the very best in cinema for a given year, the morally questioned Razzies celebrate the worst. While many look upon the Razzies as being snide, cynical, cruel, and just plain negative, I for one feel that they serve a worthy purpose to the world of cinema: they keep it on its toes.
Let me see a show of hands. How many of you have either encountered, or heard of an encounter with a celebrity who was a complete and total drunk-with-power wanker? If you haven’t encountered one yourselves, I daresay many of you have at least read about them. Tom Cruise features prominently in many such stories. As do the likes of Russell Crowe, Nicole Kidman, Sean Penn, Alec Baldwin, and numerous others. Why do they behave this way? It is simple. They are spoiled. Spoiled simply because they are famous. They may well be talented, and deserving of their success, but when you are famous, people will bend over backwards to see to it that everything is absolutely perfect for you. Some manage to resist this effect. I can personally confirm that the actors Simon Russell Beale, David Hyde Pierce, and Hank Azaria, all very talented actors who have enjoyed successful careers, are all very nice people indeed. But as we have observed, many do not. And while Oscars, praise, and accolades may not be the direct cause of this, they do nothing to stop it. Anthony Jay, the great British political satirist, famous for the BBC series “Yes, (Prime) Minister”once wrote of the British honours system, “They encourage sycophancy, snobbery, jealousy, and it’s not fair that civil servants get them all.” This is just as true of the Oscars, and awards like them, particularly if we change “civil servants” to “celebrities”,. The Razzies may not exactly strike fear into the hearts of the overly proud and snobby, but they can at least serve as a reminder to the celebrities of this world that nobody is infallible. Plenty have been very hurt by winning, or being nominated for a Razzie. I have particularly vivid memory of watching footage of Halle Berry, her face wrought with anguish and embarrassment, upon learning that she had “won” the Razzie for worst actress for “Catwoman”. While others accept them willingly, even proudly, the supremely awful Tom Green being perhaps the proudest of them all upon accepting his worst film Razzie for “Freddie Got Fingered”.
Love them or hate them, the Razzies have become an integral and important aspect of the movie year, and so I thought it only fitting to take a look at some of the nominees for this year, the 32nd Annual Golden Raspberry Awards.
Let us start with the biggie, and goodness me, there are some fine contenders for this honour this year. Many will be pleased to see that “Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part I” has made the list, for starters. While the “Twilight” films have been wildly successful among the tweenie crowd, for every screaming fangirl in a tee shirt reading “Team Edward” or “Team Jacob”, there will always be at least six other moviegoers making jokes about “Twilight” being the story of one girl’s struggle to decide whether she prefers necrophilia or bestiality. A Razzie nomination was all but inevitable. The new “Transformers” movie has lived up to it’s critical condemnation by also bagging itself a nomination, as has “New Year’s Eve”, that insultingly awful looking holiday offering from the same team who brought us a similarly lacklustre star-studded rip-off of Richard Curtis’ “Love Actually” several years ago. The spectacularly idiotic “Bucky Larson” is also nominated, but most of the experts are backing “Jack and Jill”, the latest outing from Adam Sandler who has this year managed to set a new Razzies record by scoring a nomination in almost every single Razzies category (either for himself, or for a film he has helmed), including worst actress, for the same movie. According to the Razzies website, “Jack and Jill” has twelve nominations; which is more nominations than there are award categories.
As an actor myself, I have often frowned upon people callously dismissing actors as “bad”, particularly when the critics in question are not even actors themselves and probably could not deliver a better performance if they tried, but in many cases the term “bad actor” is very apt, as indeed it is for our nominees here. Again, “Bucky Larson” crops up with a nomination for Nick Swardson, but he will undoubtedly be eclipsed by Adam Sandler who is nominated for not one but two films, namely “Jack and Jill”, and “Just Go With It”. Although even the Razzie-mighty Sandler may be up for some competition, this time from Nicholas Cage who has been nominated as worst actor for three films: “Drive Angry 3D”, “Season Of The Witch”, and “Tresspass”. Russell Brand has scored a nomination for the forgettable remake of “Arthur”, and Taylor Lautner too for both his films of the past year: “Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part I”, and “Abduction”. There’s some strong competition for this one, but my money remains on Adam Sandler. He hasn’t made a good movie in years, and when he does, it’s usually someone else’s. He has bad movie making down to a fine art.
I don’t know how women will react to this, but it seems even the worst actress Razzie category has been invaded by not one, but two men this year: Adam Sandler for “Jack and Jill”, and Martin Lawrence for “Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son”. I for one cannot fathom what they were thinking by trying to breathe life back into “Big Momma’s House” which frankly was pretty bad to begin with anyway. But to turn now to the actual actresses nominated, we have Sarah Palin as herself in “Sarah Palin: The Undefeated”. If you get nominated for a worst actress Razzie for playing yourself, it doesn’t say much for your character as a person, although personally I think the very fact that Palin is not actually an actor (not a SAG actor, any way) disqualifies her from serious consideration, and is better suited to the one thing she is good for: being parodied by Tine Fey. Also nominated is everybody’s favourite horse, Sarah Jessica Parker, for “New Year’s Eve” and “I Don’t Know How She Does It”. SJP is rather like Sarah Palin, in that in both films she effectively plays the same character, presumably herself, but personally I think the prime contender for worst actress is Kristen Stewart, for “Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part I”. Isn’t she the most wooden actress you have ever seen? No matter what she is playing, she only ever shows the one facial expression, and her voice carries little or no emotional conviction at all. There is only one actress I can think of who is worse, and that is Mia Wasikowska, who in my opinion should have been nominated for this award for Tim Burton’s disappointing “Alice In Wonderland”, which was basically LOTR on acid. Somehow she escaped a nomination, so my vote must remain with Kristen Stewart.
Worst Supporting Actor
The big surprise nominee here is a man normally seen on the Oscar nominations. I refer of course to the great Al Pacino, nominated for playing himself in Adam Sandler’s “Jack and Jill”. Like Sarah Palin, it seems he has failed at playing himself, but unlike Palin, Pacino is a known acting great. There are far more deserving candidates for this award, including James Franco for the idiotic stoner comedy “Your Highness”, Nick Swardson for “Just Go With It” and “Jack and Jill”, Patrick Dempsey for “Transformers: Dark Of The Moon”, and Ken Jeong for no less than four films: “Big Mommas: Like Father Like Son”, “Hangover Part 2”, Transformers: Dark Of The Moon”, and “Zookeeper”. This will be a hard one to pick, but it seems to me that if Nick Swardson doesn’t win, he’d better brace himself to do so in the coming years. Doing Happy Madison films is a fast track to Razzie-Winnerdom.
Worst Supporting Actress
Yet more men invade the women’s category: David Spade for his portrayal of Monica in “Jack and Jill”, and Brandon T Jackson for “Big Mommas: Like Father Like Son”. Nicole Kidman has been nominated for “Just Go With it” (Well, really. What did she expect?!), Katie Holmes for “Jack and Jill”, and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley for “Transformers: Dark Of The Moon”. Acting chops are not really important in a Michael Bay explosion-fest, so in my opinion, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley is in the clear here. This will be another difficult one to pick. Even I am having difficulties coming to a conclusion on this one.
It is very easy to blame the director for many things: bad performances, poor edits, poor camera work. The lot. But as with actors, some are just rubbish. Michael Bay has been nominated for his usual hi-jinx in “Transformers: Dark Of The Moon”, Bill Condon for “Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part I”, and Denis Dugan for helming Adam Sandler’s two big stinkers of the last year: “Jack and Jill”, and “Just Go With It”. My money is on Garry Marshall for “New Year’s Eve” for this one. I mean, really, how much more self indulgent can you get?! “New Year’s Eve” is the perfect example of a waste of time. It, like “Valentines Day”, serves no purpose but to gather a big-arse bunch of celebrities together, pair them up and stick them in recycled romantic clichés for several hours, resulting in a bigger load of froth-and-bubble than the Coke you paid $11 for at the Candy Bar. Sure, Tom Brady, nominated for the shallow and pointless “Bucky Larson” may well prove a formidable opponent, but I feel such empty rubbish is hard to beat if we’re talking worsts.
Other categories include worst screen ensemble, worst screen couple, worst screen play, and a new category: worst prequel, remake, rip-off, or sequel, all of which have some very deserving contenders vying for their not-terribly-coveted titles. Needless to say, “Jack and Jill” shows up in every single category at least once. Whatever happens, several things are true: (a) the Golden Raspberries will produce some sour grapes. There will be sore losers, and people too precious to take a joke. (b) Those who do have the chutzpah to accept their awards deserve even greater praise than the Oscar winners, for being good sports, and having a sense of humour, and (c) the balance of good and crap will be maintained.
The Razzie winners will be announced on the first of April. Enjoy the freak show, ladies and gentlemen.
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