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Awarding the absolute worst

MADISON, Wis. – As of today, the movie awards season is officially over. Most of the awards shows are congratulatory affairs that encourage you to see the highest touted films of the year, which are often under-seen by the general populace. It’s kind of ironic how similarly little press coverage is given to the various awards ceremonies for bad movies, such as the Golden Raspberry Awards and Stinker Bad Movie Awards, which disparage some films that, unfortunately, have made significantly more money than the Oscar nominees for Best Picture.

The Golden Raspberry Awards, or the Razzies as they’re commonly called, are considered the foremost authority on bad cinema. They were founded in 1980 by John Wilson, who first held the ceremony in his living room, and have been growing in prominence ever since. The tacky trophies Wilson and company dole out cost approximately $4.79 each, and are composed of such materials as 8-millimeter film reels, wood-grain shelf paper and lids from iced tea jars, which are hastily glued together and spray-painted.

The films “honored” range from extremely successful garbage (“Wild Wild West”) to high-profile camp (“Showgirls”), and the celebrities lampooned are generally easy targets (Sylvester Stallone and Madonna are the all-time champions). The ceremony has gained some odd respectability in the past few years, with some celebrities even getting in on the joke and showing up to receive their award. Tom Green, who won five Razzies for “Freddy Got Fingered,” was the first winner to attend, and Halle Berry collected her Worst Actress trophy for “Catwoman” while clutching the Best Actress Oscar she won just the year before for “Monster’s Ball.” Although it really is a big parody of awards shows, I think the Razzies have some cultural significance in representing and pinpointing the worst Hollywood has to offer.

I know most of us can sniff out a dud – I probably don’t have to tell you that “Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo” or “Son of the Mask” are vigorously awful films best avoided – but alternative awards shows such as these can provoke fun debates about movies most of us are sadly aware of. Now, other than “House of Wax” and “The Dukes of Hazzard,” I haven’t seen the Razzie nominees for Worst Film (the lesser known Jenny McCarthy debacle “Dirty Love” also won over “Deuce Bigalow” and “Son of the Mask”), but it seems as if they’ve also been picked because of tabloid sensations Paris Hilton and Jessica Simpson.

For a much more accurate breakdown of the worst films of the year, consult the Stinker Awards, which proclaimed “Ed Wood”-esque director Uwe Boll’s reprehensible creature feature “Alone in the Dark” Worst Picture over “Deuce Bigalow,” “Son of the Mask,” “Dirty Love” and “Bewitched.” They also took time to mention legitimately bad performances like Sandra Bullock’s embarrassing shenanigans in “Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous” (which just might be my pick for Worst Movie of the Year), Martin Short’s atrocious mugging in “Jiminy Glick in Lalawood” and Tyler Perry’s painfully unfunny cross-dressing in “Diary of a Mad Black Woman.” They also have my favorite bad movie category: the Spencer Breslin Award for Worst Performance by a Child.

So if you’re sick of talking about how “Brokeback Mountain” got robbed by the Academy and you want to look at the other end of the spectrum, check out the Razzies and Stinkers. While the picks can be simplistic and lazy, some are incisive and surprising, not to mention helpful for making a wise rental choice (you might even want to check them out if you’re a bad-movie connoisseur). And I can promise you there’ll be at least one movie you honestly like that got nominated and/or won.

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