Razzie Awards have hit a tacky new low with 2023 nomination list – it’s time to end them once and for all

Tom Hanks and Jared Leto are fair game – a 12-year-old child star is not, argues Jacob Stolworthy

Wednesday 25 January 2023 04:51 GMT
Ryan Kiera Armstrong in ‘Firestarter'
Ryan Kiera Armstrong in ‘Firestarter' (Universal Pictures)

In 2009, Sandra Bullock arrived on stage at the Razzies to collect her award for Worst Actress.

She wasn’t alone. Trailing behind her on a trolley, which she brought to the event herself, was a crate stacked with DVDs of the film for which she’d won her trophy – the admittedly terrible All About Steve.

“We have team Bullock here – who’s not very happy with you guys – and we brought everyone in the audience tonight a DVD of All About Steve,” she told the clearly shocked crowd. “Thank you!” a faceless crowd member shouted, to which Bullock, ever the good sport, quipped: “You say that now.”

While it’s true that her decision to show up was nothing but good press for Bullock, everyone associated with the Razzies would have taken her appearance as a big win. In fact, it was the opposite. Halle Berry was the first star to accept their award in person in 2005, after which she chided Warner Bros for casting her in the “piece-of-s***’ and “godawful” Catwoman.

“I was at the top, and then it just plummeted me to the bottom,” she said in her speech, frustration apparent.

But Bullock’s speech felt like a systematic send-up of an outdated event that should have been faded out years ago, and was topped off just 24 hours later when she won Best Actress at the Oscars for The Blind Side. Bullock has always had a wonderful sense of timing.

The Razzies should have called time there. This acknowledgement from an actor at the top of the game was a high they would never reach again, and the only way was down. But on Monday (23 January), the Razzies – formally titled the Golden Raspberry Awards – found a new low. Alongside actors Tom Hanks (Pinocchio) and Jared Leto (Morbius), organisers nominated Ryan Kiera Armstrong for her performance as a pyrokinetic child in Stephen King adaptation Firestarter. Ryan Kiera Armstrong is 12.

Now, actors like Hanks, Leto and Bullock are fair game – stars whose success is set in stone and are well-equipped mentally to deal with the criticism and setbacks that come with the Hollywood territory. Actors who are in on the joke – but also ones who understand how the joke works. For all I know, Armstrong is well-versed on the Razzies’ shtick and finds this nomination hilarious. Hopefully, in any case, she’s surrounded by a strong support team who can explain it to her – but how are organisers to be sure of these things? With this thoughtless nomination, how are the Razzies different to a playground bully picking on someone smaller than they are?

Firestarter trailer

To nominate an Oscar winner, or someone with proven bankable success to their name, is acceptable; to highlight the performance of someone as young as 12 is not just tacky – it’s fairly reprehensible. It’s astonishing to think that Armstrong hadn’t even been born when, in 2009, Bullock attended the ceremony, and put an invisible middle finger up to everyone there.

But someone should show Armstrong the clip and, if she wins, the rising star should show up and do something similar. It’s a big ask of someone so young, but it might hammer the point home that nominating a child star for a not-even-that-terrible performance strips the “joke” of its wit and has the capability of doing some damage.

Ryan Kiera Armstrong in ‘Firestarter’ (Universal Pictures)

With Armstrong’s nomination for Firestarter, organisers need to be told that punching down is not the way to go. Or, failing that, perhaps it’s time to burn the whole idea to the ground.

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