I hate the Razzies. I've always had a problem with them, but in the last couple of years that problem has morphed into a kind of an anger. While 'worst of' lists feel like a waste of time to me, I don't hold that against the Razzies. What I hold against the Razzies is the slipshod way they approach bad movies. Basically it seems like the people who run the Razzies have the most whitebread, uninteresting, anti-intellectual, boring, mall-oriented, dadcore opinions about the movies.
We can start right with the very first Razzies (short for the Golden Raspberries), where Stanley Kubrick was nominated as Worst Director for The Shining. Let that sink in. Also nominated that year: William Friedkin for Cruising (Cruising itself was nominated for a ton of awards) and Brian DePalma for Dressed to Kill. DePalma would be a staple through the 80s for films we more or less look at as classics today, films like Scarface and Body Double. In 1981 Michael Cimino won Worst Director for Heaven's Gate, which came out on the Criterion Collection recently.
That's the Razzies punishing audacity and ambition; we can sit here and go around and around about Cruising, but to say it's one of the worst films of 1980 is insane. I'm actually surprised that Cloud Atlas isn't all over their nominations this year, since it's exactly the sort of big effort movies the Razzies loves to kick in the nuts.
This year the Razzie nominations are full of their other sin: they keep nominating really boring bad movies. The whole nomination process seems to be based on looking at trailers and snarking, not actually watching the movies. If the nominating membership of the Razzies (anyone can join for a fee) actually watched heavily nominated The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 they would know that nominating Bill Condon as Worst Director is a ludicrous proposition. The attitude of the Razzies is simply 'Here's a movie that's not for me, or that isn't classically down-the-middle good, so let's make fun of it.'
Here's something Matt Singer at IndieWire wrote about the Razzies a while ago:
"The awards' biggest problem is there's really no delineation between a truly unwatchable piece of garbage and a movie that transcends its own limitations to become something more than the sum of its mistakes. Not all bad movies are created equal, nor watched with equal amounts of pain. Was 'Showgirls' really the 'worst' movie of 1995? It was certainly the most infamous movie of 1995, but history has proven the film has a perverse sort of watchability. I've seen it dozens of times, own it on Blu-ray (because a DVD copy is not nearly hi-res enough to admire the, uh, intricacies of the cinematography), and never get sick of it. Meanwhile one viewing of one of 1995's Worst Picture runner-ups, 'It's Pat: The Movie,' very nearly killed me. I'd rather watch 'Showgirls' 500 times, 'Clockwork Orange'-style, than watch 'It's Pat' just once more. I would argue there should be two top awards at the Razzies: one for Worst Picture ('It's Pat,' we salute you!) and one for Best Worst Picture (thank you, Paul Verhoeven and Joe Eszterhas!)."
It all calls into question just what a 'bad movie' is. Is it a film that's unsuccessful? A film that's easy to laugh at? Or is it a film that is truly unwatchable, that will make you want to chew off your leg to escape the theater? Because the Razzie nominations are low on that; they're mostly filled with bland studio product that exists to give marketing departments busywork. To me this all shows why listing the 'worst' movies of any given year is a total waste of time.
Not all bad movies are created equal, and the Razzies don't acknowledge that. And here's the thing: I'd rather be really enthusiastic about a movie this year and change my mind later (see: Garden State) than hate on a movie and wake up in a couple of years to find it a classic. That's the worst kind of wrong call.