When the nominations for the 37th Golden Raspberry Awards were announced last month, there wasn’t much to be found in the way of surprises. As expected, such lambasted films as Zoolander No. 2 and Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party are among those competing for Worst Picture honors, while Dirty Grandpa’s Robert De Niro and Suicide Squad’s Jared Leto have been nominated in the assorted acting categories.
Perhaps the only nod to potentially raise an eyebrow was Worst Supporting Actor for Nicolas Cage in Snowden. Cage is fine in his small role as a CIA instructor who befriends eventual whistleblower Edward Snowden (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt), but since Razzie voters have routinely gone after the actor — he had already racked up seven nominations before this latest one — his inclusion perhaps isn’t so much unexpected as it is undeserved.
Still, Cage’s citation wouldn’t be the first time Razzie members have handed out an errant nomination. Here, then, are the 15 Worst Razzie Nominations Of All Time.
15. DEFOREST KELLEY, WORST SUPPORTING ACTOR — STAR TREK V: THE FINAL FRONTIER
After Leonard Nimoy scored beaucoup bank for Paramount as the director of 1984’s Star Trek III: The Search for Spock and 1986’s Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, the studio thought nothing of entrusting the next film in the series to Nimoy’s fellow cast member William Shatner. In an interview at the time, the actor behind Captain Kirk quipped, “They think I’m going to spend $23 million to make the movie. I’ll take it and not make the money! Wouldn’t that be the biggest joke?”
Considering the savage reviews and disappointing box office that greeted 1989’s Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, Paramount in hindsight probably did wish that Shatner had just pocketed the dough. Easily the worst reviewed of all 13 Star Trek feature films to date, the film predictably became a Razzie heavyweight, earning awards for Worst Picture, Worst Actor (Shatner), and Worst Director (ditto).
DeForest Kelley didn’t earn the trophy for Worst Supporting Actor, but just the fact that he was nominated is in and of itself ridiculous. As Dr. Leonard McCoy, Kelley was never less than wonderful in his fan-fave role, with his character repeatedly providing the heart opposite Kirk’s brawn and Spock’s brain. Kelley’s folksy demeanor in the part never failed to engage audiences, and his turn in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier was no exception.
14. DANNY DEVITO, WORST SUPPORTING ACTOR — BATMAN RETURNS
Danny DeVito proved to be a Razzie double threat for his 1992 output, earning two nominations in two different categories for two different movies. He was in the running for Worst Director for helming Hoffa, a leaden biopic focusing on the controversial union activist Jimmy Hoffa. While DeVito’s direction isn’t so much awful as it is uninspired, it also doesn’t quite stick out in the line-up like that proverbial sore thumb — indeed, more absurd was the Worst Actor citation for Jack Nicholson, who’s actually quite good as the title character.
Far more eye-catching is DeVito’s other 1992 bid: Worst Supporting Actor for his turn as the Penguin in Tim Burton’s Batman Returns. DeVito was clearly at a disadvantage in the public eye, since it was Michelle Pfeiffer’s sexy and spirited rendition of Selena Kyle/Catwoman that deservedly commanded all the attention and acclaim upon the film’s initial release.
Yet even under all that Penguin makeup that required over two hours daily to apply, DeVito is able to project the tragic dimensions of a misshapen individual abandoned by his parents and forced to grow up alone in the sewers of Gotham. The Penguin’s painful past doesn’t excuse his abhorrent actions in the present, but thanks to DeVito, it also prevents the character from being readily dismissed as just another raving megalomaniac.
13. GINA GERSHON, WORST SUPPORTING ACTRESS — SHOWGIRLS
Paul Verhoeven’s notorious 1995 bomb Showgirls holds a special place in Razzie history. It scored a whopping 13 nominations; a record that has yet to be broken. It won seven awards, a record eventually tied by Battlefield Earth and subsequently broken by I Know Who Killed Me and current champion Jack and Jill. And in 2000, it won yet another Razzie, this one a special citation for Worst Picture of the Last Decade.
Since its initial release, Showgirls has become a cult favorite as well as a top seller on the home-entertainment front. At the time, though, it negatively impacted the careers of many of its participants, most notably lead actress Elizabeth Berkley. One person who emerged relatively unscathed was Gina Gershon, who leaped clear of the wreckage and landed in the 1996 indie hit Bound, the 1997 box office hit Face/Off, and the 1999 critical hit The Insider.
To anyone paying attention, this was hardly surprising. Gershon’s Razzie nomination as Worst Supporting Actress was clearly a knee-jerk citation, since her performance is unequivocally the best one gracing the film. While the other actors attempt to punch across scripter Joe Eszterhas’s ludicrous dialogue and daft scenarios with a straight face, Gershon is the only one with tongue planted firmly in cheek. As a result, her portrayal of diva dancer Cristal Connors is a high point, and the film suffers when she’s not around, lapping up the scenery.
12. TOM CRUISE, WORST ACTOR — WAR OF THE WORLDS
In analyzing some of the odder choices for Razzie enshrinement, it’s necessary to understand what was happening in pop culture away from the screen. It was in 2005 that Tom Cruise began a relationship with Katie Holmes. In rapid succession, he appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show to declare his love for the actress (famously jumping up and down on Oprah’s couch), proposed to her at the Eiffel Tower, and announced they were going to have a baby. Not done with making headlines in 2005, Cruise also criticized the benefits of psychiatry and blasted Brooke Shields for taking antidepressants.
None of this affected Cruise’s box office clout, as his summer offering, Steven Spielberg’s War of the Worlds, grossed a sizable $234 million stateside. His personal shenanigans also didn’t interfere with his strong work ethic, as he delivered a committed performance in the movie.
When the Razzie nominations rolled around, Cruise received two in the new category of Most Tiresome Tabloid Targets (a category, incidentally, that has never appeared again). He was cited for “Tom Cruise & His Anti-Psychiatry Rant” but won for “Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes, Oprah Winfrey’s Couch, The Eiffel Tower & Tom’s Baby.”
Not wanting to spare the controversial Scientologist in any capacity, Razzie voters also nominated him as Worst Actor for the Spielberg flick. Yet that nod was simply an example of piling on, made all the more apparent when compared to the truly dreadful actor who beat him for the award: Rob Schneider for Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo.
11. MADONNA, WORST SUPPORTING ACTRESS — DIE ANOTHER DAY
In the 2002 James Bond film Die Another Day, the role of Verity was played by a veritable punching bag for Razzie voters. That would be Madonna, who managed over the course of approximately 25 years to win nine Razzies against 16 nominations.
While it’s true that the pop superstar has delivered a number of rancid performances worthy of jeers — there’s simply no arguing against her back-to-back wins for Shanghai Surprise and Who’s That Girl — it’s also accurate to state that the outfit’s voters often unfairly went out of their way to single her out. For instance, did she really deserve a Worst Actress citation for playing herself in the 1991 documentary Madonna: Truth or Dare?
Equally as ludicrous was her victory in the Worst Supporting Actress category for Die Another Day. As a fencing instructor, Madonna appears on screen for all of two minutes, and while her flirtatious bantering with 007 (Pierce Brosnan) may not rank among the series’ finest moments — “I see you handle your weapon well,” she purrs; “I have been known to keep my tip up,” he retorts — it hardly justifies Razzie members exercising their license to overkill.
10. TANGERINE DREAM, WORST MUSICAL SCORE — THIEF
Although Tangerine Dream had been around since the late 1960s, it wasn’t until the 1980s that the influential German collective really began focusing on producing movie soundtracks. Renowned for paving the way for New Wave, new age, and electronic dance music, the synth-heavy band’s first major screen credit arrived courtesy of William Friedkin’s 1977 suspense film Sorcerer. That led to approximately two dozen scores over the course of the ‘80s, with those for 1983’s Risky Business, 1985’s Legend, and 1987’s Near Dark among the most notable.
The first effort in that ‘80s sprint was their score for 1981’s Thief, a solid drama starring James Caan and featuring the big-screen debuts of writer-director Michael Mann and actors Jim Belushi, William Petersen, and Dennis Farina. Mann’s choice of electronic music for his film was a bold one back in ’81, but it was a gamble that paid off. The Tangerine Dream soundtrack charted in the U.K. and earned stateside praise from Roger Ebert, who wrote that “the film moves at a taut pace, creating tension and anxiety through very effective photography and a wound-up, pulsing score by Tangerine Dream.”
Razzie voters, on the other hand, were startled by these strange new sounds and reacted in the same manner as conservative 1950s parents hearing their kids’ Elvis Presley records for the first time. The result was a tone-deaf nomination for Worst Musical Score.
9. AMY IRVING, WORST SUPPORTING ACTRESS — YENTL
Only twice in the combined history of the Oscars and the Razzies has the same performance been honored by both organizations. The first time was when James Coco earned a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination and a Worst Supporting Actor Razzie nomination for his portrayal of a struggling gay actor in Neil Simon’s 1981 hit Only When I Laugh. The second instance was when Amy Irving scored a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination and a Worst Supporting Actress Razzie nomination for her portrayal of a demure Jewish woman in Barbra Streisand’s 1983 hit Yentl.
Coco’s emoting didn’t merit either Academy applause or Raspberry resentment, but the same can’t be said for Irving’s work. She delivers a delicate performance as Hadass Vishkower, a soft-spoken woman who falls for the title character (Streisand) without realizing that “he” is actually a “she” in disguise.
The Razzie nomination makes little sense, unless it was meant as a bookend to the one received by Streisand — not for Worst Actress but, because of her character’s cross-dressing ways, Worst Actor. Oh, those clever Razzie voters.
8. CLIFFHANGER, WORST PICTURE
Just how much do Razzie voters love — or should that we say hate — Sylvester Stallone? As actor, writer and director, the Rocky and Rambo star has been nominated 31 times and won 10 times, with one of those victories as Worst Actor of the Century. On top of that, 10 of his starring vehicles have been nominated for Worst Picture, although only one (1985’s Rambo: First Blood Part II) would go on to win.
No one would bat an eye at duds like Rhinestone, Rocky V, and Driven earning nods, but 1993’s Cliffhanger is the odd film out. As Stallone’s first box office hit after a string of underachievers and outright flops, it’s also one of the better films on his resume, with the actor cast as a professional mountain climber engaged in a battle of wits with a gang of ruthless thieves. Cliffhanger earned decent reviews at the time of release and nabbed three Oscar nominations in various technical categories.
7. JULIANNE MOORE, WORST SUPPORTING ACTRESS — SEVENTH SON
The sorry YA adaptation Seventh Son was released in February 2015, during the period when Academy members were deciding whether to hand Julianne Moore a long-overdue Oscar for her excellent performance in the previous year’s Still Alice. It was reminiscent of the time when Eddie Murphy was nominated for Dreamgirls but lost, with one theory floating around that his critically reviled comedy Norbit was in theaters during the voting period and Academy members were too embarrassed to mark his name on the ballot.
Moore deservedly snagged the Best Actress Oscar for Still Alice, and thankfully, it’s likely most voters hadn’t even seen Seventh Son. Yet even if they had, it shouldn’t have made any difference. Moore is perfectly acceptable as the picture’s villain, a witch known by the name of Mother Malkin.
Moore’s performance is no better or worse than those delivered by a number of A-list actresses cast as matriarchal evildoers in magical realms, from Rachel Weisz in 2013’s Oz the Great and Powerful to Julia Roberts in 2012’s Mirror Mirror. Heck, even Meryl Streep in 2014’s Into the Woods wasn’t markedly superior to Moore, regardless of Streep’s dubious Oscar nomination.
6. KRISTIN SCOTT THOMAS, WORST SUPPORTING ACTRESS/WORST NEW STAR — UNDER THE CHERRY MOON
On the heels of his triumphant film debut in 1984’s Purple Rain, Prince decided to take on directing as well as acting duties for his follow-up feature. Unfortunately, 1986’s Under the Cherry Moon was a commercial bust, a critical disaster, and the winner of five Golden Raspberry Awards, including Worst Picture (tied with Howard the Duck) and Worst Actor and Worst Director for Prince.
Truthfully, this film about a gigolo (Prince, natch) working his magic in the French Riviera isn’t that awful — 1990’s Graffiti Bridge, Prince’s third and final film, is far worse — as there are a few highlights. One would be Kristin Scott Thomas, who makes a winning film debut as a socialite wooed by our studly hero. Scott Thomas was spared from most of the criticisms directed at the film — Walter Goodman of the New York Times opined that she “turns in quite an appealing performance under the circumstances,” while the Village Voice’s J. Hoberman noted that she “makes an impressive debut.”
Yet as is often the case, Razzie voters adopted an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink mentality and nominated the newcomer as Worst Supporting Actress (which she lost to Dom DeLuise in drag for Haunted Honeymoon) and Worst New Star (losing to “the six guys and gals” playing Howard the Duck).
With approximately two dozen international awards to her name (as well as a Best Actress Oscar nomination for The English Patient), it’s probably safe to say that Scott Thomas has long forgotten about those preposterous Razzie citations.
5. ROBIN WILLIAMS, WORST SUPPORTING ACTOR — DEATH TO SMOOCHY
Robin Williams will always be known first and foremost as a comedian, but whenever he dropped the shtick long enough to be serious or edgy, the results were generally positive. His broad comedic turns may have pleased millions, but there’s a reason his Oscar win came for his relatively subdued performance in Good Will Hunting.
Williams closed out the 20th century with the dreadful likes of Patch Adams and Bicentennial Man, but the darker side of the voice of Genie got quite the workout when he resumed his feature film appearances in 2002. He began the year by playing a psychotic children’s show host in Danny DeVito’s Death to Smoochy, followed that with the role of a chilly murder suspect in Christopher Nolan’s Insomnia, and capped things off by portraying a deeply disturbed film developer in Mark Romanek’s One Hour Photo. It was a remarkable about-face and a tremendous triple play, but while Insomnia and One Hour Photo both earned strong reviews, Death to Smoochy was savaged by critics and ignored by audiences.
Regardless of one’s feelings toward the movie — an acrimonious satire that eventually compromises itself by turning sentimental — Williams couldn’t be faulted, as he lent the proper measure of madness to the part of Rainbow Randolph, a disgraced TV star seeking revenge on the do-gooder (Edward Norton) who replaced him. Yet Razzie members flagged him for Worst Supporting Actor — the movie’s sole nomination.
4. BLAKE EDWARDS, WORST DIRECTOR, WORST SCREENPLAY — S.O.B.
Writer-director Blake Edwards’ 1981 comedy S.O.B. may never be held in the same regard as Billy Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard or Robert Altman’s The Player, but as a searing satire about the underbelly of the Hollywood scene, it still ranks among the best.
William Holden (in his final film) and Julie Andrews (Edwards’ wife for 41 years) head an all-star cast that gamely throw themselves into the story of a producer (Richard Mulligan) who decides the only way to turn his mega-flop into a mega-hit is by juicing it up with softcore porn sequences — and having the wholesome leading lady (Andrews) bare her breasts for the camera.
Edwards, known for such hits as Breakfast at Tiffany’s and The Pink Panther series, turned his years of working in the film industry into an outrageous screenplay that took no prisoners. As director, he coaxed a career performance out of Robert Preston, brilliant as a cynical doctor who’s never caught off-guard. Edwards’ screenplay landed a nomination from the Writers Guild, Preston earned the Best Supporting Actor prize from the National Society of Film Critics, and the movie itself was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture (Comedy or Musical).
Yet the insider jokes apparently flew a few miles above the heads of Razzie voters, as they handed Edwards nominations for both Worst Director and Worst Screenplay. Thankfully, even in their myopic state, they spared the film itself — its Worst Picture slot instead went to The Legend of the Lone Ranger.
3. STANLEY KUBRICK, WORST DIRECTOR — THE SHINING
It wasn’t until the organization’s second year in existence that the Razzie brain trust decided to limit each category to five nominees — thus, for its 1980 coming-out ceremony, the majority of the categories featured 10 nominees. Fortunately, 1980 upchucked so many putrid efforts — this was, after all, the year of Xanadu, Cruising, Saturn 3, and The Jazz Singer — that voters had plenty of options. Yet even with the abundance of awfulness on display, a few head-scratching picks made their way onto the ballot.
Among the more notable WTFs was the nomination of Stanley Kubrick as Worst Director for The Shining. Granted, the sizable cult surrounding this artsy adaptation of Stephen King’s bestselling novel didn’t sprout up until several years later. For all its positive attributes, the film admittedly ranks on the lower end of the Kubrick scale, far beneath the likes of Dr. Strangelove, Paths of Glory, and 2001: A Space Odyssey. But while critical reaction at the time varied greatly, no one in their right mind felt that Kubrick’s direction was the problem.
The script by Kubrick and Diane Johnson differed so radically from the book that a Worst Screenplay citation conceivably might have made sense, but none was forthcoming. Instead, the movie was represented by Shelley Duvall for Worst Actress — not surprising, given the barrage of negative reviews she received — and, absurdly, by Kubrick for Worst Director. Apparently, all work and no sense of play made Razzie voters a dull lot.
2. BRIAN DE PALMA, WORST DIRECTOR — DRESSED TO KILL / SCARFACE / BODY DOUBLE
Chew on this for a minute: Brian De Palma has been nominated for more Worst Director Razzies than either schlockmeister Uwe Boll or Adam Sandler’s go-to, Dennis Dugan. Certainly, De Palma has spent his entire career engulfed in controversy, but even his detractors would begrudgingly agree that when it comes to cinematic prowess, a select few can match the maverick filmmaker’s mastery of the medium.
To be sure, De Palma has made a sizable amount of duds, and Razzie voters rightfully nominated him for two such efforts: 1990’s misguided The Bonfire of the Vanities and 2000’s monotonous Mission to Mars. Yet 1980’s razor-sharp Dressed to Kill arguably remains the best example of his moviemaking savvy, 1983’s hyperkinetic Scarface finds its cult growing ever larger with each passing year, and even 1984’s Body Double is gaining in traction as film analysts are finally realizing it’s a satire rather than the straightforward thriller suggested by studio marketing.
De Palma didn’t deserve to be nominated for any of the three, but when combined with the Bonfire and Mars nods, these nominations tie him for most nominated director with Michael Bay and M. Night Shyamalan. On the other hand, Bay, Shyamalan, Boll and Dugan have all won Razzies, while De Palma remains a bridesmaid, losing on all five occasions. So there’s that, at least.
1. ENNIO MORRICONE, WORST MUSICAL SCORE — THE THING
Ennio Morricone is one of the all-time great composers, and while he’s produced some soundtracks that fall below his usual level of excellence, none can be classified as bottom of the barrel — especially this one. On the contrary, his score for John Carpenter’s 1982 version of The Thing ranks among his finest work.
Until that point, Carpenter had created scores for all of his own pictures — in fact, he excelled at it, as evidenced by the now-classic themes for Halloween and Assault on Precinct 13. With The Thing, he elected to hand the baton to the veteran Morricone, who cannily conceived a score very much in the Carpenter tradition. It’s both minimalist and moody, perfectly in tune with the aura of dread that permeates the entire film.
The Thing was a grim science fiction yarn that found little favor with either critics or audiences during a summer season in which the far cheerier E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial reigned supreme. The film has since joined the Spielberg flick as a classic of the genre, but back in ’82, the Razzie voters viewed Morricone as an easy target, since they were also nominating him that year for his work on the forgotten melodrama Butterfly.
Nominating Morricone for Worst Musical Score for any film would be akin to nominating Abraham Lincoln or Franklin D. Roosevelt as Worst U.S. President or The Beatles or The Rolling Stones for Worst Band — it just doesn’t compute.
Which Razzie nominates outrages you the most? Let us know in the comments!
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