Saturday, February 27, 2016

Speculative fiction at the 2016 Razzie Awards

Today, I follow up on the promise I made at the end of The songs really are the best part of 'Fifty Shades of Grey'.
Some of the nominees are genuinely bad.  Some may be the victims of the voters on beating up on trashy popular entertainment for women, no matter how well executed.  "Fifty Shades of Grey" and to a lesser extent "Jupiter Ascending" may be the recipients of such treatment.  I might have more to say about this when I write about speculative fiction at the Razzies.
I explained more in my response to a comment by Infidel753 on that entry.
I think there's more than a touch of misogyny among the Razzie voters, some of whom are confusing a movie who premise they don't like with a genuinely bad movie--"Pixels" and "Fantastic Four," I'm looking at you.
I repeated that promise as an aside in Drink to 'Deadpool's second week on top of the box office.
I'll write more about "Fantastic Four," as well as the previous holder of the Valentines Day/Presidents Day weekend box office record, "Fifty Shades of Grey," when I report on speculative fiction at this year's Razzie Awards.
Before I take my readers over the jump to list the awards, a reminder of the leaders.
The Razzies, which celebrate the year’s worst Hollywood movies and actors by awarding the winners (i.e. the losers) with Golden Raspberries, have awards for Worst Picture, Worst Actress and Worst Actor. And this year, it’s a four-way tie between Fifty Shades, Paul Blart Mall Cop 2, Jupiter Ascending and Pixels leading the nominations with six nods each.
Now, follow over the jump.

Two speculative fiction movies lead the nominations, "Jupiter Ascending" and "Pixels."  I'll start with the one that I think doesn't deserve the nominations, let alone the awards, "Jupiter Ascending."  Here's what I wrote about the film and its actors when I covered Science Fiction and Fantasy at the 2015 Teen Choice Awards where Channing Tatum and Mila Kunis were nominated for Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy Actor and Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy Actress.
It's telling that the leads for "Jupiter Rising" were nominated but not the movie itself.  Both Mila Kunis and Channing Tatum delivered competent performances, but the movie itself was a mess.  Too bad, as it was trying to make some serious points in the middle of the action. Neither will win.
I hope neither win for worst actor/actress tonight, either, but I'm getting ahead of myself.  The movie is nominated for Worst Picture, Worst Director, Worst Screenplay, Worst Actor (Tatum), Worst Actress (Kunis), and Worst Supporting Actor (Eddie Redmayne).  I don't think he deserves the award, either, but at least one site thinks he's the favorite--Razzie Awards predictions: Eddie Redmayne goes from Oscar champ to Razzie winner in one year.
Some wondered if Eddie Redmayne's villainous performance in the critically drubbed sci-fi film "Jupiter Ascending" last February would derail his Best Actor Oscar campaign for "The Theory of Everything." But the academy didn't hold it against him then or now: he won last year's Oscar contest and is nominated again this year for "The Danish Girl."

However, Redmayne is now the frontrunner to win the Razzie for Worst Supporting Actor according to the combined predictions of Expert film journalists we've polled, Editors who cover awards year-round for Gold Derby, the Top 24 Users who got the highest scores predicting last year's Razzie winners and hundreds of total Users who make up our largest and often savviest bloc of predictors.
In addition to the covert misogyny I suspect among the voters, there is overt Schadenfreude; the voters seem to delight in finding bad performances by big name performers and creators and using them to bring the highest low.  I don't have a problem with that, so I find it to be a useful role for the Razzies.  After all, there are reasons why I'm happy to have moved from Southern California to Metro Detroit, and entertainment culture is one of them.  Still, I'd prefer someone from a bad comedy like "Pixels," which has two nominees in this category, Kevin James and Josh Gad, win instead.  Redmayne delivered a suitably villainous performance of a poorly written role; he did the best he could with the material.

Speaking of "Pixels," it's also up for six awards, Worst Picture, Worst Screenplay, Worst Actor (Adam Sandler), Worst Supporting Actor (twice!), and Worst Supporting Actress (Michelle Monaghan).  As I've written about previous Razzies, there is nothing unfunnier than a bad comedy.  Vox thinks it qualifies, saying Pixels, Adam Sandler's newest movie, is complete and utter garbage.
Pixels is a movie.

This is the nicest thing I can say about it. It is a motion picture in the same way that any space with four walls and a window is considered a bedroom in Manhattan, and in the same way that lampreys are fish. It's not so much a film as it is an all-out assault on the senses, a middle finger to anyone with a brain. It's an open taunt, daring people (and their children) to spend money on a gaping malpractice of creativity.

"You know Space Invaders?" Sam Brenner, a former video game wunderkind played by Adam Sandler, asks Ludlow Lamonsoff (Josh Gad). "Because you're invading my space."

That's actually one of the film's better jokes. The rest tend to float around, mealy bits of sexism and archaic stereotypes in Pixels' fetid green pond of humor. Pixels, directed by Chris Columbus, written by Tim Herlihy and Timothy Dowling, and produced by the slop shop that is Happy Madison, holds being aggressively lazy as its main ambition. In this world, men are literally rewarded with beautiful women as prizes, dorks are still basement dwellers living with their mothers, kids have hot moms, and Kevin James is president of the United States.

But the movie's worst sin — aside from believing that Kevin James could win a general election — is that it manages to deface the culture it wants to affectionately revere. This is supposed to be a movie about video games, the endless joy and entertainment they can bring, and how we've lost those feelings over time. But the people writing and creating this movie don't seem to care enough to do any of these ideas justice — or make a movie at all worth it.
Based on this review, "Pixels" deserves its nominations and should win most of them.

Vox had equally scathing things to say about "Fantastic Four," which has five nominations: Fantastic Four is an unmitigated garbage fire.
Watching Fox's Fantastic Four feels like taking a cheese grater to your soul. Why would you want to take something beautiful and precious and grind it up into flaccid, soggy pulp? It's impossible to explain.

Maybe we should ask the people who made this dumpster fire dressed as a movie.

That distinction would go to director-writer Josh Trank and screenwriters Simon Kinberg and Jeremy Slater, and it's hard to understand why these people didn't adopt pseudonyms. I can't fathom anyone wanting to hitch their name to this. If the Fantastic Four franchise were a lion, Trank, Kinberg, and Slater would be rotting in a jail cell in Zimbabwe.
Vox then followed up by declaring "Fantastic Four is the worst superhero movie in 20 years." Well, that certainly justifies four of the nominations, Worst Picture, Worst Director, Worst Screenplay, and Worst Remake/Ripoff or Sequel.  What about the acting nomination for Worst Combo?  The review doesn't justify it from the perspective of the actors' performance, but implies that it's because of the script, which is poorly plotted.  Once again, the performers are the victims of the screenplay, direction, and editing.

As for other speculative fiction nominees, three have two nominations each. "Pan" has two for Worst Supporting Actress, Rooney Mara and Amanda Seyfried. "Hot Tub Time Machine 2" also has two, one for Worst Remake/Ripoff or Sequel and one for Worst Supporting Actor (Chevy Chase).  The third is "Human Centipede 3," another nominee for Worst Remake/Ripoff or Sequel and also for Worst Director. Finally "Seventh Son" has one for Julianne Moore as Worst Supporting Actress.  That strikes me as more Schadenfreude, as she won Best Actress for "Still Alice" last year.  I'm sure there are worse performances, especially for "Pixels."

There is one good award for speculative fiction movies; M. Night Shyamalan is up for Razzie Redeemer because he actually directed a good horror movie, "The Visit."   I'd root for him, except that I think Sylvester Stallone will win for "Creed," just like he's likely to tomorrow night for Best Supporting Actor.

As for "Fifty Shades of Grey," I'll let Infidel753 have the last word.
Fifty Shades of Grey is amongst the four most nominated movies at this year’s Razzie Awards

Color me utterly unsurprised. It was marvelous fun seeing all the "right-thinking" people's reaction to that film.

Of course, it was the 11th-biggest hit of the year and made well over half a billion dollars -- another one of those movies that nobody likes except the audiences.

I hope Lady Gaga wins the best song Oscar, though. I've always liked her. Like Fifty Shades, she offends those people whom, as John Cleese put it, one would truly wish to offend.
Speaking of Lady Gaga, I'll follow up on the music nominees tomorrow.  Stay tuned.


  1. I recycle comments

    Hey, recycling is good for the internet environment.

    These awards never seem to recognize the godawful works of the Christian Right (like this one). I didn't see any of the movies noted here, but I doubt any of them could be as bad. And yes, religion qualifies as "speculative fiction" if anything does.

    1. The Razzies do recognize bad religious films; they just have to be big enough. Last year, two movies from the Religious Right were nominated for multiple awards, Kirk Cameron's "Saving Christmas" and "Left Behind." Those had big enough names and budgets to attract the attention of the voters, who judged "Saving Christmas" to be the worst major studio film of the year.

      Bad low-budget films don't get recognized by the Razzies. If they're hilariously bad, instead of just mediocre, the Smithee Awards take care of them. Unfortunately, the bad religious films aren't funny enough unless they involve science-fiction or fantasy cults, so they get ignored, too.

  2. I'm of the contingent who would prefer ignoring the Christian Right movies altogether. Thing about even bad movie awards like the Razzies, it's free advertising (people will want to see the movies on DVD or streaming just to test themselves and see how bad it really was).

    That said, I'm heartbroken FF didn't sweep the awards. I mean, as a librarian I'm thrilled seeing Fifty Shades get trashed, but that's the book version...

    1. Librarians uniformly seem to despise the "Fifty Shades of Grey" series, especially since they know that they started off as "Twilight" fan-fiction. The movies' problem is that they are faithful adaptations of the original material. That doesn't make them bad in and of themselves.