The Golden Raspberry Awards, or Razzies, are infamous. The subversive awards have been a proverbial thorn in the artistic backside of Hollywood since they launched in 1980. The awards ceremony, intended as an antidote to the Oscars, present actors, actresses and movies with the dubious accolade of ‘worst’ in their field each year.
And each year, just one film will be awarded the notorious Golden Raspberry for worst picture. Usually, the Razzies are pretty well in line with critics’ and audience reception; films like Adam Sandler‘s Jack and Jill, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Batman and Robin, and Battlefield Earth have all been named the worst movie of their respective years. In 2010, Battlefield Earth was even named worst movie of the decade at the ceremony; these are all decisions that very few would dispute, choices which have lent the Golden Raspberries a degree of clout in Hollywood.
However, the people who nominate films and Hollywood stars for Razzies don’t always get it right. In fact, the awards have drawn criticism due to the fact that the over 650 media professionals who vote in the awards aren’t obligated to watch the movies. Thus, there have been some questionable decisions in the past. Most noteworthy of these, perhaps, was when Stanley Kubrick was nominated for worst director for the Shining in the Razzies’ first year.
Some of the films that have been nominated for worst picture actually aren’t so bad. Quite a few of them have even gone on to achieve cult status. While none of them are masterpieces, some of these nominees weren’t even thoroughly panned by critics when they were released. Rather, they merely suffered from mixed reviews.
In the spirit of this year’s newly introduced ‘Redeemers Award’, the following are thirteen Golden Raspberry worst picture candidates that didn’t deserve the nomination.
13. Rambo: First Blood Part II
Every single one of the Rambo movies has become a classic, even the weaker entries in the franchise. Entertainment Weekly gave the movie the number 23 spot on its Best Rock-‘em, Sock-‘em Movies list, and the film was a nominee for the American Film Institute’s 100 Years, 100 Cheers list.
Not everyone enjoyed this movie, however, and the critics’ aggregate score on the tomatometer is only 28%.
Rambo: First Blood Part II was not just nominated but won worst picture at the 1985 Razzie Awards. However, Siskel and Ebert gave the movie two thumbs up, and Razzie Awards creator John Wilson named it one of the most enjoyable bad movies ever in the Official Razzie Movie Guide.
12. Rocky IV
1985 was a bad year for Stallone, with both Rambo: First Blood Part 2 and Rocky IV being nominated for worst picture at the Razzies. Rambo: First Blood Part 2 went on to win the award for worst film of the year. But was Rocky IV really worth being nominated as the worst movie of the year?
It has a score of 43% on Rotten Tomatoes, which meant that almost as many critics gave the film a positive review as those that gave it a negative review. On top of that, it has a phenomenal audience rating of 80%. Critics praised Dolph Lundgren’s performance as Ivan Drago, and he won the Marshall Trophy for Best Actor at the Napierville Cinema Festival.
11. Rocky V
Rocky V was a critical failure, and even Stallone himself was not satisfied with the way the movie turned out. Stallone said he made the film out of greed, and that “I wanted to finish the series on a high and emotional note, and Rocky V didn’t do that.”
It has a score of 26% approval rating on rotten Tomatoes and many fans were upset with how the movie deviated from the standard Rocky formula. However, it was still a commercial success. It made nearly $120 million on a $2 million budget thanks to huge audiences outside of North America. Despite its critic rating, the Los Angeles Times called it the best Rocky sequel.
10. Road House
So many people absolutely love this movie that it’s become a cult classic. Fans can’t get over the level of how cool and badass Patrick Swayze is as a bouncer in a roadside bar in Missouri. In fact, it could even be called the quintessential 80s action movie.
Not only has the film been viewed more favorably in the years since its release, but even in the immediate aftermath of its release it was modestly praised. At worst, the film received mixed reviews since it has a critic score of 40% on Rotten Tomatoes. Legendary critic Roger Ebert said that it wasn’t a good film, but at least it was an entertaining one.
9. Mommie Dearest
1981 must have been an amazing year for film if Mommie Dearest was the movie that took home the Golden Raspberry for worst picture. The Faye Dunaway-starring biopic about Joan Crawford has an audience approval rate of 74% on Rotten Tomatoes and a critic score of 55% – hardly the kind of score you’d expect of the worst movie of the year, as more recognized critics actually liked the film than those that didn’t.
Faye Dunaway’s performance was divisive, but she received second place honors for best performance at both the New York Film Critics Circle Awards and the National Society of Film Critics Awards.
This Tom Cruise film was not a critical success upon its release; it has just a 5% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but like a few others on this list, Cocktail has become a cult classic.
Tom Cruise plays a business student who works as a bartender part time. Critics reviled it, but audiences were captivated by the tricks Cruise showed off when mixing drinks – the film was a huge financial success. While being a commercial hit doesn’t make it a good movie – the Transformers movies have all be big cash cows, after all – Cocktail does have defenders when it comes to critical consensus.
The most shocking part of Cocktail winning worst picture at the 1988 Golden Raspberries is that it beat out Mac and Me, which was a painful but forgettable E.T. rip off made to promote McDonald’s.
7. Little Nicky
Little Nicky may have been met with the same level of commercial success as many of Adam Sandler’s other movies that were nominated for a Golden Raspberry, but this movie does have a solid cult following.
Critics unsurprisingly panned the movie (Sandler is far from a critics’ favourite) and it has a mere 22% on Rotten Tomatoes. However, the great Roger Ebert went easy on the film. He gave the movie two and a half stars out of four and said it was the best Adam Sandler movie to date. That may be a backhanded compliment, but it’s far from outright revulsion. Besides, the movie has the legendary Rodney Dangerfield as the father of the Devil, and Henry Winkler covered in bees. It’s worth watching just to see that.
6. Wyatt Earp
Sure, Wyatt Earp is an overly long movie, and it had the misfortune of being released just six months after the far superior Tombstone, which was another movie that chronicled the adventures of old west sheriff Wyatt Earp.
However, the movie has a solid cast, and most of the performances are quite good. Dennis Quaid was praised for his role as Doc Holiday, and while he was upstaged by Val Kilmer in Tombstone, it’s still a very good performance.
Wyatt Earp has a rating of 42% on Rotten Tomatoes, which means only a few more critics didn’t like the movie versus those that did. It also has an audience score of 62%. Not bad, and far from the worst movie of the year.
5. Big Daddy
Many would consider Big Daddy to be one of Adam Sandler’s better traditional comedies. It’s no Happy Gilmore or Billy Madison, but it certainly has its fans. Indeed, in comparison to Adam Sandler’s more recent and unquestionably horrific offerings like Jack and Jill and Grown Ups 2, Big Daddy looks like an Oscar caliber film. It holds a score of 40% on Rotten Tomatoes, and it won the People’s Choice Award for Favorite Comedy in 2000.
Adam Sandler and his films would go on to be nominated for many more Golden Raspberries, but this movie was merely the beginning of a slippery slope and not an outright disaster.
4. Freddy Got Fingered
Can a movie that holds a score of 11% on Rotten Tomatoes really be a good movie? Well, Tom Green’s Freddy Got Fingered is a perfect example of time healing all wounds – or at least most of them. Since its release the film has garnered a bit of a comedy following, and a few publications even went on the praise the film many years after its initial release.
Critics from IFC.com, Splitsider, and even the New York Times complimented the film. New York Times film critic A.O. Scott, who is considered by many to be one of the best film critics working today, said the film was merely conceptual performance art and gave it a generally positive review. Perhaps general audiences and critics alike simply couldn’t handle Green’s gross out Dadaist experiment when the movie was first released…
Stallone can’t seem to do anything good in the eyes of the Razzies’ voters. If it weren’t for this actor, why else would Cliffhanger, a movie that has a 69% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes, be nominated for worst picture?
Roger Ebert gave the film three stars out of four, and so did Christopher Harris of the Globe and Mail. “Cliffhanger is a device to entertain us, and it works, especially during those moments when Stallone is hanging by his fingernails over a three-mile fall, and the bad guys are stomping on him,” said Ebert of the action film.
2. The Lone Ranger
Critics were really tough on the Lone Ranger. It’s hard to call the film a masterpiece by any stretch, but a lot of people believe it was unfairly criticized. Compared to its fellow nominees for worst picture in 2013, it’s clear that this entry doesn’t deserve to be on the list.
The nominees for 2013 included stinkers like Grown Ups 2, After Earth, A Madea Christmas and, the eventual winner, Movie 43. Quentin Tarantino put the Lone Ranger on his ten best of 2103 list, and Salon.com film critic Andrew O’Hehir said the film was “an ambitious and inventive film that’s always trying to tweak formula and play with audience expectations. If anything, it’s overstuffed with imagination and ideas.”
1. Heaven’s Gate
Another movie nominated for worst picture at the 1981 Razzies was the film Heaven’s Gate, and like Mommie Dearest it certainly doesn’t deserve to be there. It holds a score of 58% on Rotten Tomatoes.
The initial reaction to the film was harsh. Some critics gave the film scathing reviews, and the film practically ruined the career of Michael Cimino, who also directed the critically acclaimed film the Deer Hunter. In the years following the film’s release, however, the general consensus of critics has changed. In 2012 a director’s cut of Heaven’s Gate was released at the 69th Venice Film Festival to capitalize of the film’s newly found critical acclaim.