In predicting who might be nominated for Worst Actor, first you have to ask: What does the Golden Raspberry look for in its leading men? It’s a question that drives Razzie gurus crazy. Sometimes the winners of the Worst Actor award are megastars like Eddie Murphy, John Travolta, and Adam Sandler. Sometimes the winners barely qualify as actors at all: the Jonas Brothers, George W. Bush, Roberto Benigni.
Occasionally, an actor will dominate an era, as Kevin Costner did the 1990s, a decade in which he was nominated six times (and won three Razzies). But sometimes an actor will leap from obscurity with a performance for the ages, as Tom Green did when he won the Razzie for Freddy Got Fingered in 2001. (He’s still the only Worst Actor winner to accept his award in person at the ceremony.)
Razzie voters prefer comedy to drama, but only just; in the past 10 years, 59 percent of Worst Actor nominations have been for comedic roles. But don’t forget: The Razzies frequently nominate actors for multiple performances in a year — more than 25 percent of all nominees have been nominated for more than one film. On the other hand, 81 percent of Razzie winners were rewarded for just one splendidly awful performance, suggesting a slight bias on the part of singular roles. (Last year, Ashton Kutcher bucked that trend, winning Worst Actor for his work in Killers and Valentine’s Day.)
But you don’t care about the numbers! You only care who’s going to taste sweet, sweet RAZZberry come January 23! So let’s do some soothsayin’.
The Bottom Five
Of course, like so much in Razzie-world, these predictions will be endlessly revised, reconsidered, and revamped right up until that magic night. In order of how confident we feel about their chances:
Adam Sandler, Just Go With It and Jack & Jill
Sandler’s guaranteed to combine this nod with a Worst Actress nomination for Jack & Jill, and it’s entirely possible he’ll win both.
Harrison Ford, Cowboys & Aliens
It’s hard to believe Ford has never been nominated for a single Razzie, but this looks like his year. Could sentimental voters push him to a win?
Martin Lawrence, Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son
A career-capping role in a beloved trilogy looks like a shoo-in for a nomination.
Robert Pattinson, Water for Elephants and Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part I
Robbed last year of his rightful prize (for Remember Me and Eclipse), it’s hard to imagine he won’t at least pick up a nomination this time around.
Russell Brand, Arthur and Hop
While neither of these films intruded on the public consciousness all that much, Brand’s grating public persona (and his marriage to likely Worst Supporting Actress nominee Katy Perry) make him a real contender for Razzie.
Keep a close eye on these hopefuls — they’re hungry for razzberry!
Nicolas Cage, Drive Angry and Season of the Witch
Two-time Razzie nominee Cage has a real shot if his Joel Schumacher thriller Trespass — which Cage dropped out of once and switched roles in twice — sneaks in a late-2011 release.
Ryan Reynolds, Green Lantern
Reynolds, too, seems widely liked among moviegoers, even if they don’t give a crap about his superhero movie.
Tom Hanks, Larry Crowne
Sure, the man’s won two Oscars, but he’s never even been nominated for a Razzie! Consider him a dark horse; more likely is a Worst Screen Couple nod for Hanks and Julia Roberts, who apparently mash faces in this movie that neither you nor I will ever see.
Anthony Hopkins, The Rite
Nominated for Worst Actor in the very first Razzies, in 1980, Hopkins has certainly been ignored for his share of howlers since then, so I’m not convinced he has the Razzie clout necessary to secure a nod for this minor thriller.
The Wild Cards
Daniel Craig, Cowboys & Aliens
Chris Evans, Captain America
Hugh Jackman, Real Steel
Shia LaBeouf, Transformers: Dark of the Moon
Vince Vaughn, The Dilemma
New This "Weak"
Two wide releases this week, neither one suffering the kind of toxic buzz that makes RazzieWatchers prick up their ears and take notice. Friends With Benefits seems innocuous enough, although creative voters might consider it a rip-off of No Strings Attached and make it eligible in the Prequel, Remake, Rip-Off or Sequel category. Captain America: First Avenger would have to be really terrible to even qualify as the worst superhero movie of the summer, much less the year, much less a Razzie contender. But a true Razzie fan is always dreaming!
On the "Bore"-izon
I had been on the fence about The Smurfs (July 29). Surely the presence of Neil Patrick Harris meant this movie would retain a modicum of wit. Surely the Smurfs wouldn’t, like, play Rock Band and ride skateboards and say things like “No Smurf left behind!” or “I just Smurfed in my mouth,” right? And then this motherSmurfing trailer came out, and I changed my tune. The Smurfs is now officially a contender!
Dan Kois is a veteran Razzie guru and the author of Prince of Thieves, Guarder of Body: Kevin Costner in the ‘90s.