I always look forward to my annual interview with John Wilson, founder, driving force, and Head Berry of the Golden Raspberry Awards Foundation. Arguably the only film award given strictly on merit, the Razzie singles out the worst of the worst that big studios foist on an innocent public, and as someone who sits through many of these deplorable efforts, I find it to be a valuable public service. And way too much fun. The annual awards ceremony takes place the night before that >other< awards show, and includes categories found nowhere else. This year, for example, Worst Screen Combo nominees include Johnny Depp and his mustache in the execrable MORTDECAI, and Kevin James and both his mustache and his Segue in PAUL BLART: MALL COP 2. That latter film was also nominated in the category of Worst Sequel, Remake or Rip-off.
When I spoke with Wilson by phone on January 19, 2016, I began by asking my traditional question about what current cinema trends gave him the most hope, and which made him the most sad. As someone who has carefully tracked the dreck for 36 years, his insight is always both insightful and, being Wilson, very funny. We went on to talk about where FIFTY SHADES OF GRAY went so very wrong, how Adam Sandler dragged a fine director down to his own level, and how all-time Razzie award champion, Sylvester Stallone, has qualified for the Razzie Redeemer Award for his comeback to serious acting in CREED. That award emphasizes Wilson’s belief that one performance doesn’t define a career, either for good or for ill, which is also in keeping with the Razzie philosophy. They don’t pick on small films that lack the budget or expertise of studio productions, they aim squarely at filmmakers and studios that should know better, but choose to flub up. FANTASTIC FOUR comes to mind. So does PIXELS.
They also embrace those who embrace the mistake, which led to our reminiscing about one of the great Razzie moments. That would be when Halle Berry showed up in person to accept her Worst Actress award for CATWOMAN. The video is here, and if you want to see a class act in action, check it out. The same goes for Sandra Bullock, who showed up to accept for ALL ABOUT STEVE the night before the won that >other< award for THE BLIND SIDE. Watch the video here.
As for those who haven’t embraced their missteps, Wilson had a few things to say about them. We’re talking to you, Adam Sandler.
And because the Razzies take place in the middle of that dark time of the year when studios dump those projects in which they have less than perfect faith onto screens everywhere, Wilson and I looked ahead to next year’s awards with a rumination on what the heck has happened to Robert De Niro, prompted by his appearance with will probably be in contention for next year’s Worst Picture nod, DIRTY GRANDPA.
This year’s Razzie Awards take place on February 27, and for the first time ever, they are open to the public. Info on time, location, and ticketing is here.