The Golden Raspberry Awards, also known as “The Razzies,” have been a staple of the movie fan world since their inception in 1980. Billed as the opposite of the Oscars, the Razzies celebrate the worst in film for each year, with categories such as Worst Picture, Worst Director, Worst Actor, and Worst Actress. Initially a small ceremony, the Razzies have attracted enough attention that some winners, such as Halle Berry and Sandra Bullock, have actually shown up to accept their awards.
While the Razzies can be amusing, they often fall into familiar trends and pick on easy targets, such as big budget flops and divisive artistic films, and tend to target well-known films featuring famous actors rather than the actual worst films of the year. Also, the Razzies often pick the same group of films in nearly every category, and rarely go for out of the box outliers.
There are many award shows who have questionable past winners, but the Razzies in particular stand out for some of their baffling picks. Some of the films that have attracted Razzie nominations, and even wins, are now regarded as great films, or even masterpieces. Here are ten great movies that were nominated for Razzies.
10. Rocky IV
Sylvester Stallone has been one of the Razzies’ most frequent targets for years, receiving over thirty nominations in various categories, and even winning the award for “Worst Actor of the Century.” It seems like the Razzies will nominate Stallone for anything he does, regardless of the fluctuations in quality, and no film better represents this discrepancy than Rocky IV, a film that won five Razzies, including Worst Actor and Worst Director, and was nominated for four more, including Worst Picture.
While the film was an easy target at the time of its release, the fourth entry in the Rocky franchise has developed a strong cult following in the years since, with fans appreciating the campier elements of the story and the incorporation of Cold War politics into the series. The inclusion of the American-Soviet rivalry makes the film an interesting time capsule, and it also helped launch the career of Dolph Lundgren, who would go on to star in many cult action films. Rocky IV is a film that is still remembered today, as it helped to inspire the storyline of Creed II, and its many nominations feel even stranger now.
9. Con Air
Con Air is one of the goofiest action films of the 90s, a film so over the top and ridiculous that it is impossible not to enjoy. Nicolas Cage’s performance as former Army Sergeant Cameron Poe, a man who spent ten years in prison for killing a man who threatened his wife, has been the subject of internet fixation due to his goofy New Orleans accent and many goofy lines, and the film’s eccentric villain Sirus the Virus (John Malkovich) is easily one of the most entertaining action movie villains of the 90s. The film also boasts some terrific stunt work and creatively staged action sequences.
While many were able to enjoy the film’s self-aware take on the action thriller, it was also a target of criticism, earning two Razzie nominations for Worst Reckless Disregard for Human Life and Public Property and Worst Original Song for “How Do I Live.” The later nomination is the more baffling of the two, as “How Do I Live” would go on to receive an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song.
8. Batman Returns
1992’s Batman Returns is one of the oddest superhero films ever made; while it features a darker noir storyline and a good deal of depravity revolving around the loneliness of the characters, it’s also one of the more playful and exciting films within the Batman franchise. Tim Burton took a big swing with the sequel to 1989’s Batman, and among other things, the film became renowned for Michelle Pfeiffer’s performance as Selina Kyle/ Catwoman.
However, Pfeiffer wasn’t the only antagonist in the film, as Michael Keaton’s Bruce Wayne/Batman also had to contend with the deformed criminal mastermind Oswald Cobblepot (Danny DeVito), also known as The Penguin. Like many of Burton’s best characters, The Penguin is a child abandoned by his parents and cast out of society, and DeVito’s performance is sympathetic, sinister, and disturbing all at once. DeVito’s performance is undoubtedly one of the highlights of the film, but unfortunately he received a Razzie nomination for Worst Supporting Actor.
7. Purple Rain
One of the quintessential rock musicals of the 1980s, Purple Rain is known as the film that launched Prince into the film business, as he starred as “The Kid,” a troubled frontman of a rock group that struggles to live through a difficult home life with his parents as he rockets into stardom. Although the character was largely inspired by Prince himself, it still functions as an effective dramatic story, and the dramatic emotional confrontations between characters are much more than just filler between the musical numbers.
However, it is the musical numbers that are the film’s selling point, as the film is responsible for many popular singles, including “Let’s Go Crazy,” “When Doves Cry,” and “Purple Rain,” with Prince winning the Academy Award for Best Original Song Score. The film is commonly referenced when talking about Prince’s legacy, and was even re-released in theaters in 2016 following the artist’s passing. However, Prince was also a frequent Razzie target, and the film received two Razzie nominations for Worst New Star and Worst Original Song.
6. Mission: Impossible
Mission: Impossible is the most consistently great film franchise currently running, as after six entries, the adventures of Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt still feel as fresh and exciting as ever. It’s one of the rare franchises that is able to keep improving as it goes on, and while 2018’s Mission: Impossible- Fallout is often cited as one of the greatest action movies ever made, the franchise would not exist if it weren’t for Brian De Palma’s 1996 classic Mission: Impossible, the film that set up Ethan as a lone survivor framed for the deaths of his Impossible Mission Force team.
The Mission: Impossible films vary stylistically based on their individual directors, and De Palma’s background in suspense is evident in the original film, as it stages a tightly wound mystery following Ethan’s attempts to infiltrate the CIA and discover how far up the conspiracy goes. Although the franchise would eventually be known for its jaw dropping action sequences, the first film features very little explosions and shoot outs, focusing more on espionage and intrigue, including the now iconic vault heist. Strangely enough, screenwriters David Koepp, Steven Zallian, and Robert Towne received a Razzie nomination for Worst Written Film Grossing Over $100 Million, a strange nomination considering how logically sound and cleverly staged the film’s script is.