The 2018 Golden Raspberry Award nominations, may have singled out some bad films, but they've missed out some truly terrible movies in favor of populist box office bombs. The Razzie noms were led by Transformers: The Last Knight led the nominations with Fifty Shades Darker not far behind, with the other Worst Picture nominees including Baywatch, The Emoji Movie and The Mummy. In something of a surprise, Jennifer Lawrence was nominated for a Worst Actress Razzie for her role in Darren Aronofsky’s mother!
In recent years, there’s been something of a backlash against the Razzies by many in film culture, and for good reason. They tend to only ever "reward" one very specific kind of movie: a relatively high-budgeted studio movie that earned bad reviews and/or bombed severely at the box office, to the point where it earned scorn from the general public prior to its release. That’s certainly the case with this year’s nominees. Three of the Best Picture nominees - Baywatch, The Mummy and Transformers - were high-profile summer blockbusters that fell short of expectations. The Emoji Movie and Fifty Shades weren't cheap either and, crucially, both critically reviled, and not in any controversial way. All of these are movies that are safe to ridicule and hate.
The other problem is, the Razzies tend to make bad judgments. Lawrence’s nomination for mother! makes little sense; divided as the reaction to that film was, Lawrence’s performance was far from the problem; ditto for Dakota Johnson’s turn in Fifty Shades Darker, as Johnson’s acting was one of the few aspects of that film that worked.
This thud of a landing is only amplified when there are considerably better reasons to ridicule famous figures in the entertainment industry than their having merely appeared in a movie that was a financial failure.
And there was, of course, plenty of bad, unsuccessful films that were released in 2017. Here are a few that may have been more deserving of your scorn than the actual Razzie nominations.
The November DCEU film, in the version in which it was released, was a tonal disaster, attempting to mash together the styles of two directors - Zack Snyder and Joss Whedon - whose sensibilities just don’t fit together. Cursed with one of the worst villains in the history of superhero movies and that whole business involving Henry Cavill’s CGI-removed mustache, Justice League lost Warner Brothers a great deal of money, killed a lot of the goodwill from the summer’s Wonder Woman, and left DCEU die-hards clamoring for the release of a director’s cut that almost certainly doesn’t exist.
This thriller, filmed in Norway, directed by Tomas Alfredson (of Let the Right One In and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) and starring Michael Fassbender, got brutal reviews upon its U.S. release in October, with various elements - a serial killer using snowmen as a repeated motif, a hero named “Detective Harry Hole” - that could have been unintentionally funny if the film had played them that day. Wasting a cast that included Rebecca Ferguson, Toby Jones, Val Kilmer and J.K. Simmons, The Snowman might have been a laughingstock sort of film, but it made so little of an impression that it was quickly forgotten.
Director George Clooney’s Suburbicon, based on an old unproduced screenplay by Joel and Ethan Coen, showed mostly that that screenplay had remained unproduced for a reason. Starring Matt Damon in quite possibly the worst performance of his career, the film was a failed satire of 1950s urban conformity, also starring Julianne Moore in a confusing dual role and Oscar Isaac and other noted actors wasted in small roles. The main plot - involving a home invasion and other crimes - is bad, and the mostly disconnected subplot, about racial terrorism, is even worse, in that it fails to give the African-American characters names or, in some cases, even speaking lines.
The Book of Henry
The Book of Henry, starring Jacob Tremblay as a young boy who tries to rescue a girl in his neighborhood who’s being abused by her stepfather - and later exposes the abuse via a children’s book published after he dies - was so vilified by critics upon its release last June that it led to speculation that its director, Colin Trevorrow, would be removed from his gig directing Star Wars: Episode IX as a result (Trevorrow did later leave that film, although it’s unclear whether Book of Henry’s failure played in any part in his departure.) Hated as the film was, it didn’t get much attention from anyone but critics.
Who knows whether or not Netflix-only films are even eligible for the Razzies, but Bright, the Will Smith-starring sci-fi/fantasy crime allegory was fileted by critics when it arrived on the streaming service the last week of December, earning a Rotten Tomatoes score in the mid-20s. The film was directed by Suicide Squad’s David Ayer, and written by Victor Frankenstein’s Max Landis; there also was plenty of vilification of Landis even before he was accused of sexual misconduct the same week the film appeared. For all of the critical vitriol, however, Bright performed well enough on Netflix that a sequel to the movie was quickly greenlit.
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