10 Best Movies Nominated For A “Worst Picture” Razzie, Ranked – Screen Rant

The Razzies are meant to recognize the worst movies of the year, but some of their Worst Picture nominees have gone on to become classics.
The Golden Raspberry awards, or Razzies, have been giving out Worst Picture awards for over 40 years, but some of their nominations have been way off. The Razzies have a complicated history that's rife with controversy. While the parody awards are intended poke fun at the worst cinematic releases of the year, they often run into the same problem as legitimate annual awards; the lack of perspective on recent releases often makes it difficult to pass an objective judgment.
The Razzies once infamously nominated Stanley Kubrick for Worst Director for The Shining, a film which is now considered one of the best horror movies of all time. While most of the “winners” of the Worst Picture Razzie have been hard to disagree with, the wide pool of nominees has occasionally drafted films that eventually were looked upon more fondly; some even became classics. The shift in reputations of many Worst Picture nominees is less a reflection on the Razzies and more a reflection of the various ways immediate critical and commercial reactions can be colored. It’s worth examining which nominees were unfairly criticized.
Disney’s musical Newsies, a dramatization of the 1899 New York newsboys strike, was a critical and commercial flop upon release. Critics lambasted the film's score and 121-minute runtime, yet it has seen critical reappraisal, as well as an adaptation into a massively successful Broadway show. The criticized score by legendary Disney composer Alan Menken went on to win the show a Tony. It's now considered a highlight of the film. Newsies also benefits from spirited choreography thanks to choreographer-turned-director Kenny Ortega, and even the most cynical of critics praised a young Christian Bale’s performance as the charismatic strike leader, Jack Kelly.
Rocky IV contains some silliness, which understandably soured contemporary critics. The film sees a now world-famous Rocky face off against the ruthless wall of Soviet muscle, Ivan Drago. The cartoonish USSR vs. America fight and some goofier plot details, such as Paulie buying a robot, signified the franchise moving further and further away from its grounded, Oscar-winning roots. Yet with hindsight, it’s easier to appreciate Rocky IV for what it is: a colorful, triumphant boxing movie that distills the sports genre down to a concentrated essence and invigorates it with glorious '80s excess.
The Bodyguard follows a former Secret Service agent played by Kevin Costner who takes on a job as a bodyguard for a world-famous singer played by Whitney Houston. The film is now considered undeserving of the critical beating it received upon release. The Razzies savaged the film, nominating it for seven categories, including Worst Picture, Worst Actor, and Worst Actress. However, the climactic rescue scene, set to Houston’s cover of “I Will Always Love You," is one of the most famous moments in cinema. In general, the film is widely acknowledged as having one of the best movie soundtracks of all time.
The disaster of director Michael Cimino’s Deer Hunter follow-up Heaven’s Gate is the stuff of legend. The film, which dramatizes the true story of an 1890 conflict between immigrant farmers and rich cattle ranchers, was plagued by reshoots, cost overruns, and Cimino’s own tyrannical personality. It’s possible that the highly publicized catastrophic production colored critical opinion of this box office bomb. While Heaven’s Gate is much too long and overly indulgent to the whims of its creator, the epic story often reaches moments of profound beauty and artistic insight, making it a far cry from one of the worst films of the year.
While Michael Bay’s filmography is certainly uneven, reactionary critics are often quick to condemn his crowd-pleasing work without considering the artistry that goes into it. Such is the case with Armageddon, a film that centers on a group of deep-core drillers who become humanity’s only hope of destroying an approaching meteor. The movie sells its admittedly silly plot with an earnest, rollicking tone and a uniquely talented ensemble cast. The critical consensus at the time was unable to look past the movie’s ludicrous plot, but the film was the highest-grossing release of 1998 and went on to be inducted into The Criterion Collection.
In many ways, Road House is typical silly '80s action fare. The film follows a tough bouncer whose principles bring him into conflict with the town’s richest and most ruthless man, as well as his army of goons. It’s a simple and unambitious plot, but Patrick Swayze carries it to greatness with his endlessly charismatic performance in the lead role of the kickboxing bouncer, Dalton. The film released in 1989, when critics may have been growing tired of the simple pleasures of '80s action cheese, no matter how well-executed. Through a modern lens, the movie's charms are obvious, and its flaws are easily overlooked as idiosyncrasies of the decade.
The Blair Witch Project’s story of three student filmmakers who go missing while searching for a local myth known as the Blair Witch makes haunting use of ambiguity and minimalist horror. The 1999 film is considered one of the best found footage movies and is even credited with revitalizing the genre. While critics praised The Blair Witch Project upon release, audience reactions were mixed, making the film a rare example of the Razzies siding with audiences over critics. The highly realistic tone and lack of perceived thrills left many viewers feeling dissatisfied. It’s still a polarizing film, but many consider it to be a horror masterpiece.
Legendary director William Friedkin’s Cruising was released at the wrong time to be justly evaluated. The film centers on a police officer who goes deep undercover in the world of New York's gay S&M leather bars in order to root out a serial killer prowling the scene. The film’s bold subject matter made mainstream audiences uncomfortable while also attracting criticism from gay activists who felt that the perception of gay people in the 1980s was fraught enough without a grizzled film using one if its subcultures as a seedy backdrop. Yet Friedkin’s arresting thriller explores a vibrant scene which most filmmakers would be too afraid to touch.
Last Action Hero follows a boy who finds himself sucked into the world of his favorite action movie character, the ludicrously tough and grizzled Jack Slater. The movie received mixed reception for an over-reliance on its central joke. Nevertheless, the central joke is a strong one, and the film benefits from an immensely strong pool of talent. Die Hard’s John McTiernan directs, The Nice Guys’ Shane Black co-writes, and Arnold Schwarzenegger stars as an absurd pastiche of his own on-screen persona. The film is flawed, but buried within Last Action Hero’s busy plot and rushed editing is one of the best action satires ever made.
Horror has always struggled to be recognized as an art form. Even today, it’s only the cerebral and politically engaged horror films that see awards recognition. Yet the craftsmanship that goes into making a terrifying slasher movie is no less legitimate than that of any other filmmaking form. The original Friday the 13th spins its simple premise of teenagers picked off one by one at a remote summer camp into one of the most celebrated horror franchises ever. Far from Razzie-worthy, the gripping cinematography, haunting score, and bold violence make it a triumph of horror artistry which has stood the test of time.


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