The Oscars honor the finest cinematic achievements of the past year. But for every good film, there are at least a dozen more poorly conceived and poorly acted films that make it into the theaters. The Razzies award those films that the Oscars wouldn't touch and none of us should have seen.
John Wilson, the founder of the Golden Raspberry Foundation, the organization that awards the year's worst films and cinematic performances,was online Monday, Feb. 28 at 12 p.m. ET to discuss this year's Razzie winners and his new book, the Official Razzie Movie Guide.
A transcript follows.
Editor's Note: Washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Live Online discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions.
John Wilson: Welcome to what I hope will be a Berry Fun Forum discussing
the "Winners" of the Gala 25th Annual RAZZIE Awards. We are now OPEN FOR BIZZNESS...
You guys are too clever. Bush/Rumsfeld, how do you come up with such genius?
Harken back to November and remember the impact Hollywood had. Enjoy your 15 minutes, the clock is ticking. I hear there are wonderful management trainee opportunities out there.
John Wilson: Berry funny. Our point was not to have an impact, but rather to express using humor our disappointment in this President and his cabinet. I take it you are NOT upset that we are now in a war, where actual human lives are being lost, and it was all based on misinformation...While I don't find the war funny, I think blowing a RAZZberry at the people responsible for bringing it about is a perfect example of a little thing called Freedom of Speech. have you heard of it??
I read on-line that before Halle Berry, Tom Green (for Freddie Got Fingered in 2001) was the last actor/actress to accept the award in person.
Tom Green is hardly a household name. Who was the last A-list performer to accept in person?
John Wilson: By showing up at our Awards, with her Oscar in hand, Halle Berry set a high bar for both fellow actors and our future ceremonies. She is the FIRST person of her stature to have the courage, and sense of humor about herself that allowed her to attend our show. I HOPE it's a precedent others will follow...
Catwoman was hardly a worse picture than say, Seed of Chuckie, or dozens of other 2004 releases that no one but the critics forced to sit through them saw.
When you award a "worst film" you must have a mind 'failure to live up to expectations' or to 'worst use of good resources' as part of the criteria, right?
John Wilson: There are several criteria for "qualifying" as a RAZZIE nominee. With CATWOMAN, it met our standards on several fronts: Huge budget ($100 million or so) Oscar-winning star (Halle Berry) High profile release (the marketing campaign cost about $40 million) and both the public and critics greeted it like something the cat dragged in. It is NOT an enjoyable bad movie (like those listed in my new book) but it IS a movie that almost everyone agreed was a major disappointment. As for SEED OF CHUCKIE, we did list it as a possible Worst Remake or Sequel contender, but our members picked five OTHER awful movies instead...
Why are so many movies so lame? I mean, there's a tough vetting process just to get movies green lighted, isn't there? What goes wrong and allows the industry to release such bad stuff?
John Wilson: I think the big problem with Hollywood right now is that it costs so much to make a mainstream move that the money people are terrified of doing anything original for fear they'll lose their shirts. The true creative types have almost NO sway in the business anymore unless, like Clint Eastwood last night, they either win an oscar or make a financially successful film.
What are your thoughts on Superbabies 2, which has to be one of the ultimate in achievements in recent years for some kind of award or something?
John Wilson: I was delighted that our members at least NOMINATED the ultra-lame SUPERBABIES: BABY GENIUSES #2 for several Awards. I personally voted for Jon Voight as Worst Supporting Actor, and also thought Ah-Nuld's AWFUL cameo in AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAZE was more deserving than Donald Rumsfeld, but the number of voters is now approaching 700 people, so my personal opinions no longer shape the results as they did when I began this whole thing 25 years ago...
I am happy to say that I did not see any of the movies nominated for Razzies, with the exception of Farenheit 9/11, but who didn't? The only film I considered watching on that list was Alexander, but sounds like I shouldn't even waste my time.
John Wilson: For all those who are questioning our Awarding of four RAZZIES to FAHRENHEIT 9/11, I would like to point out that we did have a precedent: Both Madonna in TRUTH OR DARE and Andrew Dice CLay in DICE RULES had been nominated for "acting" as "themselves" in documentaries in past years.
As for ALEXANDER, I personally found it so wonderfully overblown and over-acted that it was my FAVORITE Bad Movie of 2004. But when something bombs as big (and loudly) as CATWOMAN did, it's sometimes hard to steer attention to the Truly Great Garbage, like ALEXANDER...
How could you possibly leave off Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow???? I stupidly took a love interest to this movie and she hasn't talked to me since.
John Wilson: I did see SKY CAPTAIN, and my eight-year-old son HATED it, referring to it as we left the theatre as SKY CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF...SO YESTERDAY!
In any given year, there are literally DOZENS of titles we could nominate for our Awards, and get no argument from anyone. It thus follows that even WE cannot RAZZ every hunk-of-dreck that makes it to the big screen.
In the case of Halle Berry was her award for terrible acting, poor judgement in taking the role in the first place, or bad luck in having a film disintegrate around her? Never saw the film myself but did enjoy the pictures of her in the cat suit!
John Wilson: Yes, Halle looked sexy-as-all-get-out in her costume. But that's only amusing for about 45 seconds. The film was over 90 minutes long.
We hope that the public understands that it's the PERFORMANCE, not the PERFORMER that we are RAZZing. In the case of Ms. Berry, it is especially hard to understand following up an Oscar win with a project like CATWOMAN. It's almost like she set herself up for winning Worst Actress.
We were BERRY delighted, though, when she showed up Saturday night and did a several-minutes-long riff on her own famous Oscar speech and then declared: "I'd like to thank Warner Brothers for putting me in a piece-of-S**T
godawful movie. Her speech was AWESOME, and brought the house down during our ceremonies. As I said afterward as, if there were such a thing as an Oscar for a RAZZIE acceptance speech, Halle would now have two Academy Awards on her mantle!
Do you have a lifetime achievement award, and if so, who is it named after?
John Wilson: We haven't actually done a Worst Career Achievement RAZZIE in a few years. If we named it after anyone, I should think Sylvester Stallone, who's been nominated 30 times -- and "won" 10 -- would be the likely dedicatee...
I think Son of the Mask is already leading the pack in nominations for the 2005 Razzies, no? What a gag-worthy waste of money.
John Wilson: There's plenty already in 2005 that qualifies for our 26th Annual RAZZIES -- In addition to SONN OF THE MASK (which I was too busy working on our show to see) there are CONSTANTINE, ELEKTRA, HIDE AND SEEK, AFRAID of THE DARK, and several more.
One of the keys to the RAZZIES' success is that Hollywood just can't seem to stop making really bad movies...
With the Fantastic Four setting up to be a potential summer blockbuster, was the original early 90's Roger Corman version of the FF ever nominated for a Razzie? Yeah, yeah...I know it was never "officially" released, but how 'bout a special "Worst Comic Movie Ever" award? Oops...I forgot about Catwoman...never mind.
John Wilson: Our rules, based on those of That OTHER Award Show (The Oscars or, as we call them, The Giving Out of the Little Gold Naked Men) stipulate that to "qualify" for one of our Awards, as film MUST have been theatrically released in at least ONE theatre in the U.S. during the year for which it is eligible. The only exceptions we've ever made, and this was during our earlier, sillier years, was that ANYTHING starring either Bo Derek or Pia Zadora, released or not, AUTOMATICALLY qualified...
Obviously the person who was offended by Bush/Rumsfeld failed to take notice that the Razzies have been out for 25 YEARS.
John Wilson: I am surprised how MANY angry, vulgar and threat-filled e-mails I am getting (via our web site WWW.RAZZIES.COM) about Mr. Bush and his minions geting RAZZed. Apparently those who support this President have a BIG problem when Hollywood does anything off-color or involving foul language, but NO problem using that same language against those who disagree with them.
I think my favorite "threat" I've gotten was from an Alabama radio station owner, who said "As far as I am concerned, The RAZZIES no longer exist!" I sent a REPLY letting him know I was "delighted to see that freedom of speech in Alabama was as alive and well as it ever was."
People often taske The RAZZIES W-A-Y too seriously. At their heart, they are a JOKE, a relatively harmless way to have some run at the expense of well-known people who've publicly embarrassed themselves during the previous year. For celebrities, or their devotees, to get all bent-out-of-shape and high-and-mighty about getting one of our Awards, quite frankly, is more amusing to me than the Awards themselves!
How can you possibly claim Bush and Rumsfeld aren't good actors?
They had virtually the entire population of the United States convinced that doubting the existence of WMDs was both inaccurate and unpatriotic.
John Wilson: Yes, but can they speak the lines written for them without looking as idiotic as Madonna whenever she is "acting"??
As I have been pointing out in interviews this weekend, the full title of the RAZZIE Category Bush "won" for is Worst Performance in a Leading Role -- And there is no more leading role (and no worst performance IN that role) than the one given George W. Bush...
Silver Spring, Md.:
I'm somewhat embarrassed to admit this but I love bad movies. Gigli was my pick for this year as well as that one with Richard Gere learning how to dance.Can I become a voting member of the razzacademy?
John Wilson: If you've been to our web site, you know I am ALSO a Lover of Bad Movies -- My entire book THE OFFICIAL RAZZIE MOVIE GUIDE is about that "secret vice.
If you ARE interested in taking part, you can JOIN UP at our web site (oh, oh -- Am I getting too close to a PLUG here?): WWW.RAZZIES.COM...
As for enjoying Hollywood's worst -- If it's the RIGHT Bad Movie, you've got a roomful of The Right Kind of Friends (and are serving The Right Libations) watching something Awful can be An Awful Lot of FUN!
No that's ok. Plug away.
Sofia Coppola was nominated for Worst Supporting Actress for "Star Wars: Episode One." She had no speaking part, and was on the screen for MAYBE 10 seconds. Wasn't that a little vindictive?
John Wilson: Our members seemed to think that the idea of putting Sofia Coppolla on screen again (even for 15 seconds) after her record-setting/vote-getting performance in GODFATHER III,
deserved a nomination.
Besides, we can take credit for steering Sofia away from in-front-of-the-camera and to behind-a-typewriter instead. She is now one of the few performers who can claim to be both an oscar and a RAZZIE winner...
Not even Pia Zadora ever got the volume of votes that Sofia got as Pacino's daughter in GFIII. And her death
scene in that film, described in my book as The Worst Female Performance EVER Committed to Film, is also the only piece of acting I've ever seen LAUGHED OFF SCREEN at a studio screening for Academy Members. The laughs were followed by WILD APPLAUSE. When even the usually decorous and respectful AMPAS folks can't resist RAZZING someone, that's OUR Kind of "Acting"...
I was really impressed with the article about Halle Berry's acceptance of her Razzie. Wow, she seems like a really down-to-earth person! (and I'm usually pretty cynical about these things)
Has anyone else every accepted a Razzie with that kind of grace and humor?
John Wilson: The only other star of Halle's caliber to take his RAZZIES in stride, and be totally self-deprecating in doing so, was Bill Cosby, who not only agreed with our opinion of LEONARD: PART 6, but brought his three RAZZIE statuettes on the old Carson TONIGHT SHOW to "brag" about "sweeping the Golden Raspberries."
I realize that it takes a degree of courage and self-confidence rare in Hollywood to do what these two stars have done, but it is MAGNIFICENTLY refreshing when someone does. Halle's speech is one of the HIGHLIGHTS of RAZZIE history, and we are Berry Grateful to her for having agreed to show up and regale us with her wit...
San Antonio, TX:
"One of the keys to the RAZZIES' success is that Hollywood just can't seem to stop making really bad movies..."
Let's get down to BIDDness, as ol' Ross Perot would say! How does one get Hollywood to stop making such bad movies, like the possible contenders for 2005, as you say. If people vote with their feet and pocketbooks, will Hollywood keep turning out such bad fare?
THE MOST culturally interesting part of last night's Oscars was when Rock interviewed average Los Angeles movie-goers, none of whom had seen the nominated films.
Is it a literacy disconnect, where the best films depend in large part on language and dialogue, where films such as "White Chicks" depend on sight gags?
John Wilson: If they stopped making them, we'd be out of "BIDness."
Actually, I don't think anyone (with the possible exception of Tom Green) EVER sets out to "win" a RAZZIE --
It's usually somewhere during production that a film veers inadvertently off into Golden Raspberry territory. And when it does so as spectacularly as GIGLI, BATTLEFIELD EARTH, CATWOMAN or ALEXANDER, it certainly deserves an "honor" of some-kind-or-other...
Silver Spring, Md.:
Has a recipient of a Razzie ever confronted you or otherwise not taken the news of their 'win' in the same lighthearted manner in which it was given?
John Wilson: Hollywood's most common response is to "ignore" us -- Like the you-know-what that happens in church. When Faye Dunaway "won" for MOMMIE DEAREST ( one of the All-Time Great RAZZIE Movies) a London paper claimed they told her and she "flew into a litigious rage." But I have learned over 25 years of doing the RAZZIES that the British press is not above fabricating a story if they find it amusing.
My favorite reaction to the RAZZIES in recent years was John Travolta who, when asked about BATTLEFIELD EARTH tying with SHOWGIRLS for the most RAZZIES ever (7 statues) said: "Oh, I have people I pay to keep me from hearing about things like that." WOW! That's luxury -- To be rich enough to never know when ANYONE disapproves of you...
Halle Berry was a great sport about her award. Any comment from Britney Spears or the Bush admin. on their awards?
John Wilson: I would not expect that The Bush Folks will have (or make) the time to respond. They're a bit busy working on their remake of ARMAGEDDON.
As for Britney, I believe she now holds the record for the BRIEFEST performance we've ever RAZZed -- She's only on-screen for about 20 seconds in FAHRENHEIT, but the clip is SO funny we couldn't resist listing her. Anyone who's seen the film knows what we mean, anyone who hasn't simply MUST see it...
Your criteria for qualifying a movie to be judged (budget, Oscar-winning star, etc.) make sense, but what criteria do you use in actually making the judgment? Hammy acting, cardboard sets, confusing plots, etc., or pure informed intuition?
John Wilson: We look at Box Office, Budget, what we call "RAZZIE pedigree" (if the film features someone we've recently RAZZED) and Critical Reaction. any film that gets below a 25% approval on Rotten Tomatoes is likely to draw our attention.
There's really not much point in RAZZing stuff almost no one has ever seen, so we stick to The Big Bombs as our targets...
Would it be fair to say big-budget films that bomb have a better chance at a Razzie? I mean, anybody can make an el cheapo disaster, but it takes a real effort to make an "Alexander." (And Stone, no matter what you think of him, obviously has talent)
John Wilson: Often it is precisely because we know someone is capable of better work that they got RAZZIE nominated. Someone like Britney is, of course, not capable of much better than she's become a star doing. Someone like a Laurence Olivier or a Jessica Lange, both deservedly respected actors, is, in my mind, even MORE deserving when they Blow It Big Time...
Thank you for your continuing good work. Would you ever include a film that for some reason has been widely accepted in the Razzies, like, say, Mystic River? Or do the films have to be beyond even that overrated piece of drivel?
John Wilson: Generally, the Academy and our Foundation almost NEVER nominate the same things -- Although it HAS happened four times in 25 years. Perhaps the best known Double Dipper was when Amy irving played Barbra Streisand's "wife" in YENTL, and was nominated as BOTH Best and Worst Supporting Actress for the same performance. As usually happens when this occurs, she did not "win" either Award...
Silver Spring, Md.:
Perhaps the lifetime under-achievement award could be called the Ed Wood Award for Consistently & Progressively Bad Work.
John Wilson: Ed Wood is certainly a Giant of Bad Movie-Making. I personally, though, prefer GLEN OR GLENDA to PLAN 9.
Being about Wood's own preferences for women's panties and angora sweaters, GLENDA is one of the funniest, most awkward roman-a-clef movies EVER made...
San Antonio, TX:
I thought you might like to hear from a little person whose life your Razzie touched, although ever so slightly.
Back in the '86-'87 time frame, you gave a Razzie to "Howard the Duck." I was communications manager at the Modesto, Calif., chamber of commerce at the time, while my best friend was the chamber's CVB manager, as well as the head of its film commission.
The film commission spent some $$$ promoting that "Howard" had been filmed in Stanislaus County. When the Razzie list came out for that year, "Howard the Duck" was on top. I admit that I never saw the film--not to this day, even though there were film parties in the community.
My friend tried to make the best of the bad news by putting out film commission postcards that read: "Howard the Duck was shot--and died--here." My friend was forced to take your news with a sense of humor, much like Halle Berry has done this year. I thought it was silly to throw good film commission money after horrible press--yours. But I wonder how many other film companies have come to Modesto to shoot film since "Howard"?
However, I have to agree with you in spirit. "Ishtar" was one of the worst films of all time. Bush and Rumsfeld deserve their worst actor and worst supporting actor nods from you this year.
Do you know of other outcomes of you designating Razzies in past years?
John Wilson: HOWARD THE DUCK is certainly one of the biggest bombs of the 1980s, and actually TIED for Worst Picture of 1986 with Prince's incredibly self-indulgent UNDER THE CHERRY MOON.
Hope your home town has SOMETHING else to brag about by now. Maybe "hoe handle capital of the world"...??
My nominations for the worst movies of 2004:
Meet the Fockers
13 Going on 30
All characterized by bad writing and acting that should have embarrassed the stars
John Wilson: As I mentioned earlier, even WE cannot RAZZ every bad movie that comes along. I do think, however, that we have done a Berry Good Job over the years of singling out The Truly Putrescent in Motion Pictures for our annual dis-honors.
Here's to ANOTHER 25 years of RAZZing Hollywood's Berry WORST Achievements in Film...
San Antonio, TX.:
"My favorite reaction to the RAZZIES in recent years was John Travolta who, when asked about BATTLEFIELD EARTH tying with SHOWGIRLS for the most RAZZIES ever (7 statues) said: "Oh, I have people I pay to keep me from hearing about things like that." WOW! That's luxury -- To be rich enough to never know when ANYONE disapproves of you..."
Isn't that what the "Bubble Boy" does at a certain residence on Pennsylvania Ave.
John Wilson: You mean "Boy George"?? Yes, I think one of the keys to Mr. Bush's RAZZ-ability is that, in his mind, he's right about everything. And almost NO ONE ever seems to tell him otherwise. The press conference where he was asked to name even ONE mistake he'd made in his life, and couldn't come up with even one, was actually more SCARY than funny.
But as I've also been saying frequently in interviews about this year's "winners," with what's going on in the real world right now, you've either gotta laugh or cy -- And being the RAZZIES, we think it's our duty to encourage the public to laugh!
New York, N.Y.:
Hi, I'm glad you stick to big boated films to Razz. Smaller independent efforts evoke sympathy for effort - or pity for the pathetic - but the big studio efforts take themselves so seriously and waste so many resources, they seem like a natural and fair target. Also, do you have an example of an actor who showed he/she knew they were in a terrible movie and still maintained some dignity??
John Wilson: I am fairly certain that Jon Voight's performance in ANACONDA (which I list in my book as The Best Bad Horror Movie of the 1990s) was DELIBERATELY bad. He still got a
Worst Actor nod, but was so obviously having a blast hamming it up like mad that there is a certain "dignity" in his apparent commitment to being As Awful as He Could Be...
John Wilson: It was Berry Much Fun doing this. I hope to do another in the future.
Thanx Berry Much for your questions and feedback!
Berry Truly Yours,
The Golden Raspberry (RAZZIE) Awards