There’s plenty of mystique and controversy surrounding how exactly Hollywood awards are chosen, from the 10,000 hand-picked members of the Academy who crown each year’s Oscar winners to the notoriously insular group of some 100-or-so journalists who hand out the Golden Globes. In a fitting rebuke of the elite awards culture it satirizes, the Golden Raspberry Awards do things differently: $40 is all it takes to vote for the Razzies.
“I like to point out that although the Golden Globes are now lower on the Hollywood totem pole than we are — which is saying a lot — we have 10 or 11 times as many voters,” Razzies founder John J. B. Wilson said in an interview with IndieWire.
Now in its 42nd year, the Razzies highlight cinematic misfires, under-achievements, and failures. This year’s nominees were announced Monday, led by Worst Picture contenders “Diana the Musical,” “Infinite,” “Karen,” “Space Jam: A New Legacy,” and “The Woman in the Window.”
The first ceremony, held in 1981 in Wilson’s basement, saw winners picked by a group of about 15. Wilson still runs the awards today, alongside partner Maureen Murphy, but the voting bloc has grown exponentially: It crossed the 1,000-person threshold for the first time a few years ago. This year’s nominees were selected by 1,128 voters hailing from 49 states and over two dozen countries, led by sizable contingents in Canada, Australia, and the U.K.
The easiest path to vote is to become a Razzie member, made possible with a small paid contribution. Rates start at $40 for the first year and $25 for subsequent years. A lifetime membership costs $500. Wilson said that, while some members are indeed industry types and film journalists, the bulk of the membership are just everyday “movie-goers.”
Another way to become a member? Win a Razzie. Razzie recipients automatically qualify for lifetime membership — if they want it. “We have screenwriters, directors, producers, actors,” he said.
Using the online Election Runner program, the Razzies team lists seven to 12 contenders in each category, along with space for write-ins. The top five vote-getters in each category earn Razzie nominations, the list that was unveiled Monday. A final ballot will go out to members on March 11 — so there’s still time to join. Winners will be presented with their Razzies on “Oscar Eve,” March 26.
Throughout the year, Wilson and Murphy keep an eye on all things awful in film to help guide their noms, everything from Rotten Tomatoes scores, IMDb user ratings, and Box Office Mojo stats help. And, just as the Academy has embraced non-theatrical releases since the start of the pandemic, so have the Razzies. Discussion also unfolds throughout the year on the Razzies forum, made up of both members and non-members.
At the end of the year, they compile a kind of shortlist from that research. Typical categories include ones highlighting terrible screen couples, remakes, and performances. Special categories pop up from time to time. This year, Bruce Willis is unopposed in the race for “Worst Performance by Bruce Willis in a 2021 Movie” — the actor starred in eight direct-to-video movies last year. Wilson describes each as tired riffs on the “Die Hard” formula.
“We knew he made a lot of movies, but when we started reading ‘worst of the year’ lists and saw he was on a bunch of different lists with different titles, and we said, ‘wait a minute,'” Wilson said.
The Razzies have long faced criticism for the way it skewers film. Wilson said they try not to pick too hard on creators and actors. For example, lauded actress Amy Adams earned two nods this year (“The Woman in the Window,” “Dear Evan Hansen”), but the Razzies nomination announcement made sure to highlight her as “an otherwise great actress.”
“It’s not a slap in the face, it’s a banana peel on the floor. It’s meant to be funny, and yeah, it takes people down a peg, but another thing I say a lot is, ‘If you got $20 million to do a crappy movie and you got a Razzie, you’ve still got $20 million — can you deal with it?,'” Wilson said.
Over the years, several Razzie recipients have taken their wins in stride. Halle Berry most famously accepted her 2005 Razzie for “Catwoman” in person, with her Oscar trophy in hand. She recently told Vanity Fair that she went to the ceremony because “we all take ourselves so seriously,” and she revealed that she burned the Razzie when she got home.
And last year, nine-time Razzie nominee Eddie Murphy said a string of wins, including in 2010 for Worst Actor of the Decade, inspired him to step away from acting. The strategy worked: In 2020, Murphy earned some of the best reviews of his career with “Dolemite Is My Name.” He even earned a Razzie for it: the “Redeemer Award.”