The Hollywood Reporter critic Frank Scheck has actually seen all the nominated films and performances, a feat that may be unparalleled. Here are his picks.
Is there no area of public life that Donald Trump hasn't permeated?
Moviegoers used to be relatively safe from the bloviating billionaire, save for the occasional harmless-if-nauseating cameo appearance in such films as Home Alone 2: Lost in New York and The Little Rascals. But now that he's president, he's managed to infiltrate even the cherished institution for lovers of bad movies known as the Razzie Awards. True, Trump is a previous winner, having scored a Worst Supporting Actor award for his smarmy turn opposite Bo Derek in 1989's Ghosts Can't Do It. But this year he's a multiple nominee, with Melania Trump and Kellyanne Conway scoring nods as well. So much for the movies being an escape from reality.
Speaking of escaping from reality, you'll be eager to after perusing this year's roster of Razzie nominees that remind us that just when you think Hollywood movies can't get any worse, they do. Most of the entries don't even qualify as guilty pleasures, but rather truly excruciating cinematic experiences.
But it's my duty to offer my opinion about which of the Razzie nominees are most deserving of these awards designed for people who don't even pretend to love Roma. Keep in mind that these are not predictions for the awards, which will be handed out on Saturday, Feb. 23, the night before the Oscars. The nominations listed below are exactly as they appear in the official list. Let the worst contenders win.
Holmes & Watson
The Happytime Murders
A seriously underwhelming lineup, but not in the way you'd think. It isn't that these five films aren't terrible; it's that they're terrible in predictable ways. Where are the epic misfires like Life Itself and Welcome to Marwen, films that were hoisted with their own petard of pretension? Instead we have yet another mediocre horror film and the umpteenth Robin Hood reboot (albeit the worst ever). Yes, Gotti was awful, but no more than so many mafia exploitation films of the '70s, and even its detractors admitted that John Travolta was actually pretty good. The Happytime Murders was a misfire, sure, but there was a perverse pleasure in watching puppets doing naughty things. Especially since they were doing so under the direction of Brian Henson, son of Jim, which leads to all sorts of psychological theorizing. The winner by default should be Holmes & Watson, if only for having the gall to open on Christmas Day. And for making critics abandon their families to attend the first public screening on Christmas morning. Not that I'm bitter.
Helen Mirren, Winchester
Jennifer Garner, Peppermint
Amber Heard, London Fields
Melissa McCarthy, The Happytime Murders and Life of the Party
Amanda Seyfried, The Clapper
Actresses don't just not get enough good roles these days — they also don't get enough bad ones. The nominators seem to be reaching here. Peppermint was a subpar action movie, but Garner was nothing less than proficient in it. Same for McCarthy, who demonstrated that even her formidable comic chops can't fully rescue terrible material. The Clapper came out way back in January 2018, meaning that nobody remembers it. And how can you give the award to Amber Heard when absolutely no one has seen her movie? The winner by default is Mirren, if only for making a clear cash grab. Taxes in England are high, but not high enough to justify choices like this.
Bruce Willis, Death Wish
Johnny Depp (Voice Only), Sherlock Gnomes
Will Ferrell, Holmes & Watson
John Travolta, Gotti
Donald J. Trump (As Himself), Death of a Nation and Fahrenheit 11/9
Depp has done far worse acting than this, and giving an award for voice work seems like a cheat. Ferrell doesn't do anything very different in this film than he's done countless times before, to much funnier effect. As I mentioned previously, Travolta is perfectly fine as the preening mob boss. I refuse to advocate for the award for Trump, since he would actually take it as a compliment. And how can you say he's a bad actor when he's managed to fool more than a third of the country? The award should go to Willis, a two-time winner in the past. His wooden performance as the grieving vigilante in the Death Wish remake makes Charles Bronson look live Olivier.
Jamie Foxx, Robin Hood
Ludacris (Voice Only), Show Dogs
Joel McHale, The Happytime Murders
John C. Reilly, Holmes & Watson
Justice Smith, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
As with the Johnny Depp nomination, giving an award for a voice performance seems absurd, so that rules out Ludacris. McHale isn't any worse in The Happytime Murders than he is in anything else. It's tempting to give the award to Reilly, if only because he was robbed of an Oscar nomination for Stan & Ollie. Justice Smith probably got nominated only because everyone thinks Will Smith is his father (he isn't). Foxx gets the prize, which means that the eminently deserving Robin Hood doesn't go home empty-handed.
Kelly Preston, Gotti
Kellyanne Conway (As Herself), Fahrenheit 11/9
Marcia Gay Harden, Fifty Shades Freed
Jaz Sinclair, Slender Man
Melania Trump (As Herself), Fahrenheit 11/9
Kellyanne and Melania split the anti-Trump vote, canceling each other out. And Conway was almost convincing while arguing about "alternative facts." Harden was actually the most fun thing about Fifty Shades Freed, which seems curiously neglected in this year's nominations (franchise fatigue?). How Jaz Sinclair got singled out from all the other terrible performances in Slender Man is anybody's guess. Preston deserves this, if only for the blatant nepotism of her casting.
Any Two Actors or Puppets (Especially in Those Creepy Sex Scenes), The Happytime Murders
Johnny Depp & His Fast-Fading Film Career (He’s doing voices for cartoons, fer kripesakes!), Sherlock Gnomes
Will Ferrell & John C. Reilly (Trashing Two of Literature’s Most Beloved Characters), Holmes & Watson
Kelly Preston & John Travolta (Getting BATTLEFIELD EARTH type Reviews!), Gotti
Donald J. Trump & His Self-Perpetuating Pettiness, Death of a Nation and Fahrenheit 11/9
A real failure of imagination here, with all of those vying representing previously nominated films. Step it up, Razzies, there's a lot of terrible movies out there! Some of these nominations (Depp, Trump) are a cheat, as they are not really "combos." Nominating the combinations of Ferrell and Reilly and Travolta and Preston in addition to their separate nominations seems like piling on. So the pairings in The Happytime Murders should get it, but only by default.
Death of a Nation (remake of Hillary’s America...)
Holmes & Watson
The Meg (rip-off of Jaws)
The category that most deserves to be expanded to ten nominees. Or really an unlimited number, since nearly every Hollywood movie these days falls under the heading. All of the contenders here are eminently qualified, but there's no contest. Death of a Nation deserves it, not only for its egregiously skewed history lessons, unrelieved hysteria and rabid hate-mongering, but also because it's boring beyond belief.
Kevin Connolly, Gotti
Etan Cohen, Holmes & Watson
James Foley, Fifty Shades Freed
Brian Henson, The Happytime Murders
The Spierig Brothers (Michael and Peter), Winchester
Another uninspired line-up. Connolly deserves it, because somebody's got to take the hit for Gotti.
Death of a Nation, Written by Dinesh D’Souza & Bruce Schooley
Fifty Shades Freed, Screenplay by Niall Leonard, from the Novel by E.L. James
Gotti, Screenplay by Leo Rossi and Lem Dobbs
The Happytime Murders, Screenplay by Todd Berger, Story by Berger and Dee Austin Robinson
Winchester, Written by Tom Vaughan and The Spierig Brothers
You have to give this award to Dinesh D'Souza and his collaborator. Because comparing Democrats to Nazis is no small feat of imagination. This pair should really be writing fantasy films. Oh wait, they already are.
Sony Animation Studio from crass multi-Razzie winner Emoji Movie to the highly acclaimed Spider Man Into The Spider-Verse, which was loved by critics and audiences alike
Actress: Melissa McCarthy, who went from a multi-Razzie darling to a critically acclaimed Oscar Nominee for her out-of-caricature role in Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Actor: Tyler Perry, from a multi-Razzie nominee and winner for his self-imposed Madea trap to his role as Colin Powell in the Oscar and Golden Globe favorite Vice
Director: Peter Farrelly from Razzie Winner for Movie 43 and more shallow choices like Dumb and Dumber 2 etc… to director/co-writer of the deeply heartfelt Green Book
Franchise: From the Razzie-targeted heap of metal Transformers to the more innocent and endearing three-dimensional approach taken with Bumblebee
The Razzies seem to be taking an unwarranted victory lap with this category, even admitting, "We hope we might have had a tinge of influence in their progression." Sorry, no. Winning a Razzie doesn't scare a performer or studio straight, vowing to do better next time. Perry, after all, already demonstrated his acting chops in 2014's Gone Girl, so his effective turn in Vice wasn't a shock. And Can You Ever Forgive Me? isn't even Melissa McCarthy's first Oscar nomination. In any case, the clear winner is Sony Animation, which went from producing last year's worst animated film to arguably this year's best.