Written by James Rawson, New Media, DFI
As February draws to a close, so too does awards season in Hollywood: red carpets are rolled away, giant gold statues are covered in bubble wrap and Hollywood dry cleaners have more tuxedos than they can handle. The Golden Globes, the BAFTAs, the mighty Academy Awards and a hundred other ceremonies have filled our newspapers and TV schedules for the last few weeks, but I would like to take this opportunity to champion my own personal favourite Hollywood Statuette: the humble Golden Raspberry, or ‘The Razzie’.
For those of you who haven’t heard of them, The Razzies are utterly unique in their mission: they aim to honour (or dishonour) the very worst in filmmaking. It’s an event for the films that make you cringe in your cinema seat, that make you wish you’d never left the house, and that all too often star Nicolas Cage. They don’t get a look in at other awards shows, but Razzies night is their time to shine.
The tradition began in 1981 when publicist John Wilson held an impromptu event in his living room, inviting friends to give awards to the worst films of the year. Razzie legend has it that John stood in front of a homemade cardboard podium, spoke into a makeshift microphone (a broom handle with a foam ball on the end) and declared ‘Don’t Stop The Music’ as the year’s worst film. The night was a huge success, and an institution was born.
As the years went on the ceremony grew, and was hosted every year by John, one night before The Oscars. Unsurprisingly, most Razzie winners chose to ignore their shameful accolades. That was until 1988 when American actor Bill Cosby, who won in three categories (Worst Picture, Worst Actor and Worst Screenplay for Leonard Part 6) bucked the trend by demanding live on television that he receive his award. Seeing an opportunity for a great news story, the Fox network went so far as to have a 24-carat gold and marble statue made, which cost almost $30,000 dollars, and have the award presented to him on late night TV.
From then onwards, a handful of good sports in Hollywood have acknowledged the event. Tom Selleck had his Worst Supporting Actor Razzy handed to him on air by Chevy Chase, in recognition of his performance as King Ferdinand of Spain in the 1993 flop ‘Christopher Columbus: The Discovery’. In 1995 Dutch director Paul Verhoeven went one step further and actually attended the ceremony to accept his Worst Director and Worst Picture awards for the generation defining stinker ‘Showgirls’.
But the two most famous, and enthusiastic, Golden Raspberry acceptances came from Halle Berry in 2004 and Sandra Bullock in 2010. Halle Berry accepted her ‘Worst Actress’ award for ‘Catwoman’ with her Razzie in one hand, and her Oscar for ‘Monster’s Ball’ in the other. “Thank you SO much, I never in my life thought I’d be up here” she sobbed, brilliantly imitating her own famous teary Oscar acceptance speech to an applauding crowd.
When Sandra Bullock accepted her Worst Actress Razzie in 2010 for ‘All About Steve’, little did she know that the next day she would be receiving her first Best Actress Oscar for her performance in ‘The Blind Side’. Both instances not only show two classy ladies prepared to poke fun at themselves (it’s easy to accept an Oscar with style, not so easy for a Razzie), but perfectly highlight the fickle nature of Hollywood.
At 30 years old, The Razzies are now more popular than ever, and this year added a new category: ‘Worst Eye-Gouging Misuse of 3D’, a title that went to M Night Shymalan’s ‘The Last Airbender’ (which was something of a runaway winner this year, also picking up Worst Picture, Worst Director, Worst Screenplay and Worst Supporting Actor for Jonathan Rathbone). 2011 also saw accolades go to ‘Sex And The City 2’ (Worst Actress for all four stars, Worst Ensemble Cast and Worst Prequel, Remake, Rip-Off or Sequel), Ashton Kutcher (Worst Actor for ‘Killers’ and ‘Valentine’s Day’) and Jessica Alba (Worst Supporting Actress for ‘The Killer Inside Me’, ‘Little Fockers’, ‘Machete’ and ‘Valentine’s Day’).
As founder John Wilson said: “It’s all about taking Hollywood’s favorite pasttime — congratulating itself — and turning it on its head.” And with an industry that often takes itself a little too seriously, The Razzies are there to bring it crashing back down to earth. Viva la Razzies!