RazzieWatch: Worst-Director Showdown

John Wilson/Golden Raspberry Award Foundation Razzie Awards

What do Stanley Kubrick, John Huston, Sylvester Stallone, and Prince have in common? They’ve all been nominated for a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Director! The Razzies have always prided themselves on nominating a mix of directors for the industry’s biggest prize. Sure, actors (Kevin Costner, Dan Aykroyd, Eddie Murphy) who step behind the camera are always favorites. But the Razzies voters seem to enjoy taking auteurs and top-notch pros down a peg, as well; by RazzieWatch’s count, 14 directors have been nominated for the Oscar for Best Director and the Razzie for Worst Director.

The Razzies have also been a bastion of gender and racial equity, at least compared to the Oscars.  Kathryn Bigelow may have been the first woman to win Best Director, but she was preceded by Elaine May (Ishtar) and Jennifer Lynch (Boxing Helena), who won Razzies decades before her. And while no black director has ever won a Razzie, African-American filmmaking icons such as Prince and Keenen Ivory Wayans have secured Razzie noms, which must at least begin to make up for their endless snubs by the Academy.

The most important question to consider when predicting this year’s Worst Directors is, of course, will those directors mirror the Worst Picture nominees? Over the past 10 Razzie ceremonies, 41 of 50 Worst Directors also saw their films snag a Worst Picture nod. That means that in the average year, one out of five directors is a surprise — and that surprise is usually someone famous replacing someone relatively unknown, as happened last year when Sylvester Stallone (The Expendables) snatched a nomination out from under The Bounty Hunter’s Andy Tennant.

So if, as we predicted last month, the Worst Picture nominees are The Hangover Part II, Jack and Jill, Real Steel, Breaking Dawn Part I, and Zookeeper, who is vulnerable? I’d suggest it’s the director who’s least famous (Zookeeper’s Frank Coraci), but I also think there’s a reasonable chance that this year’s Razzies might pull a couple of surprises out of its hat. Let’s break it down, Razziewatchers!

The Bottom Five

From the locks to those hanging on by a thread.

Bill Condon, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part I
He’s won an Oscar. He’s directing a big-budget extravaganza in which the teenage heroine undergoes a cesarean section via vampire teeth. Write it down in pen, people.

Dennis Dugan, Jack and Jill
As always, anyone involved with Jack and Jill in any way has a clear shot at Razzie glory, and two-time Razzie nominee Dugan is poised to finally walk away with the statue.

Todd Phillips, The Hangover Part II
Industry goodwill toward Phillips curdled instantly with this unfunny, unoriginal sequel, which made us retroactively hate the first Hangover movie, too.

Shawn Levy, Real Steel
Levy, a hack’s hack, is long overdue for a Razzie nomination; it could be argued he’s already been cheated out of two or three. Let this be the year!

Joel Schumacher, Trespass
This depends entirely on whether this long-delayed thriller — which Nicolas Cage switched roles in twice before finally signing on — comes out in 2011. If so, he’s a player.

The Runners-Up

Jon Favreau, Cowboys & Aliens
Favreau’s first real directorial misfire after a string of hits. Plus, he’s an actor behind the camera, though he’s not acting royalty like …

Tom Hanks, Larry Crowne
Could it happen? Could everybody’s favorite Everyman be nominated for a Razzie? A 35 percent Tomatometer rating — and a mere $35 million in box office — suggest the answer might be yes.

Raja Gosnell, The Smurfs
It’s hard to lay the credit for this movie’s total Smurfiness at Gosnell’s feet, but if the film makes a strong showing, he could sneak in.

Frank Coraci, Zookeeper
Sure, this guy’s responsible for the peak moment in Adam Sandler’s career (The Wedding Singer). But he’s also responsible for Click and The Waterboy. It would be nice to see him rewarded.

Tate Taylor, The Help
See below for more discussion about this movie’s Razzie hopes, but certainly no one seems that blown away by Taylor’s direction — and, as the film’s screenwriter as well, he could bear the brunt of anger from voters who loved the actresses even as they found the movie itself reductive and insulting.

The Wild Cards
Michael Bay, Transformers: Dark of the Moon
Martin Campbell, Green Lantern
Ron Howard, The Dilemma
Rob Marshall, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
Marcus Nispel, Conan the Barbarian

New This “Weak”

30 Minutes or Less seems plausibly funny. Final Destination 5 seems enjoyably Final Destination-y. And Glee: The Concert Movie will be viewed only by Gleeks, who will love it. But the big surprise this week has been the mixed reviews for Wednesday release The Help. Could it be a Razzie contender?

On the one hand, its Tomatometer stands at a comfortable 73 percent, and audiences are flocking to this civil-rights weepie. On the other hand, it’s been hampered by negative reviews from a few prominent critics, including pans from the Times’ Manohla Dargis and WaPo’s Ann Hornaday — plus a thoughtful, thorough demolishing from the Boston Globe’s Wesley Morris that’s spreading on Twitter. “The best film roles three black women will have all year,” he points out, “require one of them to clean Ron Howard’s daughter’s house.”

In the end, we think The Help is square enough to win more Oscars than Razzies. But don’t count it out!

On the “Bore”-izon

We’re not convinced about Conan the Barbarian (August 19). On the one hand, it looks terrible. On the other hand, it doesn’t look nearly as terrible as Clash of the Titans, and that crapfest couldn’t make any headway at last year’s Razzies. On the other other hand, this incomprehensible trailer reveals not only Rose McGowan’s crazy-ass hairdo, but also that in this movie, Conan the Barbarian pronounces his first name like Conan O’Brien. Just listen to that lady shout at the 1:45 mark! That seems wrong. I give it a shot at Worst Supporting Actress, Worst Actor, and maaaaaaybe Worst Director.

Dan Kois is a longtime Razzie guru. His first restaurant, RazzTastic!, will open at the corner of Olympic and Sepulveda in December 2011.

Previously: RazzieWatch: Who Will Win Worst Actress?
RazzieWatch: Smurfs and Aliens
RazzieWatch: Who Will Win Worst Actor?

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Filed Under: Conan the Barbarian, Cowboys & Aliens, Jack and Jill, Larry Crowne, Movies, Razziewatch, Shawn Levy, The Hangover Part Ii, The Help, The Smurfs, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1, Tom Hanks, Zookeeper