People often dismiss awards season as an exercise in famous people patting each other on the back. But it ain't necessarily so. No sooner had this week's Oscar nominations been announced than runners and riders were unveiled for another time-honoured red carpet event: the Golden Raspberries.
Each year since 1980, a local showbusiness publicist called John Wilson has staged this tongue-in-cheek shindig, which is more widely known as the Razzies, to celebrate the very worst that the film industry has produced over the previous 12 months. Held the night before the Oscars, it's a healthy antidote to the smugness of other awards dos, and in its own way has become quite famous. This year's rendition will revolve around three major showdowns.
The first sees five of 2009's most underwhelming male stars, including Will Ferrell, John Travolta, and Eddie Murphy, compete for Worst Actor. The second pitches Sandra Bullock against Megan Fox and three other starlets, for Worst Actress.
The blue-riband Golden Raspberry category, however, will be Worst Film. This year, its shortlist contains five critical flops of truly epic proportions: Transformers, All About Steve, GI Joe, Land of the Lost, and Disney's Old Dogs.
But here's a thing: although the five contenders have all been the subject of widespread ridicule, a quick glance at their box office performances reveals that they grossed a combined $1,297m (£810m), an average of $259m (£161m) each.
That's an incredibly high figure for such supposedly bad films. And it seems particularly lofty when compared with the takings from what Hollywood believes are 2009's finest pieces of film-making: the 10 titles short-listed for Best Picture Oscars. Those flicks made a combined $3.5bn. But if you remove the freakishly successful Avatar from calculations, it emerges that the remaining nine titles up for a Best Picture Oscar managed a mere $1,662m (£1,038m), or just $188m (£117m) each. All of which tends to support an old maxim often quoted with regard to the enduring ludicrousness of showbusiness: that if there's one thing likely to be more lucrative than a really good film, it's a really, really bad one.
The worst lines in Hollywood
Speaking of the Oscars, I often wonder if Hollywood should honour the creative geniuses who come up with exotic "tag lines" for new films.
This week, a trailer for the forthcoming Clash of the Titans excitedly told me that, "this Spring, Titans will Clash". I've not seen a sillier slogan since the makers of Die Hard 2, starring Bruce Willis, urged me to "Die Harder." That film went on to make $120m, a stellar amount for 1990. Once again, dreadfulness sells.