Hollywood types hope their best work will be remembered when that other awards show announces its nominees Tuesday. But unfortunately, their worst work won't be forgotten either, not if the Golden Raspberry Awards Foundation has anything to say about it.
At least "Wild Wild West" knows it won't walk away honor-less. Last summer's Will Smith stinker, along with the blockbuster "Star Wars: Episode I -- The Phantom Menace", topped the nominations for the 20th Annual Razzie Awards, announced today.
"Wild Wild West" and "Phantom Menace" are up for eight Razzies each. The digs at "West" include nods for Worst Picture, Worst Actor (Kevin Kline), Worst Screen Couple (Kline and Smith), Worst Director (Barry Sonnenfeld), Worst Supporting Actor (Kenneth Branagh) and two nods for Worst Supporting Actress (Salma Hayek and Kline as a prostitute).
The flick will duke it out for Worst Picture dishonors with "Phantom Menace," as well as "Big Daddy," "The Haunting" and "The Blair Witch Project.".
The Golden Raspberrys also announced nominations for the worst actor and actress of the entire blinkin' 20th century. The uncoveted races will pit the likes of Kevin Costner against Pauly Shore, and Madonna against Brooke Shields.
Past multiple Razzie winners "Striptease," "Showgirls," "Hudson Hawk," "An Alan Smithee Film: Burn, Hollywood, Burn!" and "The Postman" are all in contention for the title worst picture of the 1990s.
Some of today's picks reveal the Razzies' "pet" performers. Consider the Sofia Coppola worst supporting actress nomination for "Episode I." (Blink and you missed her as one of Queen Amidala's handmaidens. And what were her lines, other than, say, "Yes, your Majesty"?) And what about Sylvester Stallone's nomination for Worst Actor of the Century -- noting he deserves the nod for "99.5% of Everything He's Ever Done." (Ouch.)
The most curious dig: Madonna's nomination for Worst Actress of the Century. According to the Razzies, her bad-movie resume includes 1980's "Endless Love." But, was she even in the film? (No comment yet from the Razzies on that apparent typo.)
Oh well: Like Madonna would show up to the ceremonies, which, for the record, are scheduled for March 25 -- 24 hours before the real-deal Academy Awards -- at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel.
The actual award, a gold-spray-painted plastic raspberry atop a mangled Super 8 film reel, reportedly is worth about $4.27.
Here's the complete nominee list for the 20th Annual Razzie Awards:
"Big Daddy" "The Blair Witch Project" "The Haunting" "Star Wars: Episode I -- The Phantom Menace" "Wild Wild West"
Kevin Costner, "For Love of the Game" and "Message in a Bottle" Kevin Kline, "Wild Wild West" Adam Sandler, "Big Daddy" Arnold Schwarzenegger, "End Of Days" Robin Williams, "Bicentennial Man" and "Jakob The Liar"
Heather Donahue, "The Blair Witch Project" Melanie Griffith, "Crazy in Alabama" Milla Jovovich, "The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc" Sharon Stone, "Gloria" Catherine Zeta-Jones, "Entrapment" and "The Haunting"
Worst Screen Couple
Pierce Brosnan and Denise Richards, "The World Is Not Enough" Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta-Jones, "Entrapment" Kevin Kline and Will Smith, "Wild Wild West" Jake Lloyd and Natalie Portman, "Star Wars: Episode I -- The Phantom Menace" Lili Taylor and Catherine Zeta-Jones, "The Haunting"
Worst Supporting Actress
Sofia Coppola, "Star Wars: Episode I -- The Phantom Menace" Salma Hayek, "Dogma" and "Wild Wild West" Kevin Kline (as a prostitute), "Wild Wild West" Juliette Lewis, "The Other Sister" Denise Richards, "The World Is Not Enough"
Worst Supporting Actor
Jar Jar Binks (voice by Ahmed Best), "Star Wars: Episode I -- The Phantom Menace" Kenneth Branagh, "Wild Wild West" Gabriel Byrne, "End of Days" and "Stigmata" Jake Lloyd, "Star Wars: Episode I -- The Phantom Menace" Rob Schneider, "Big Daddy"
Jan DeBont, "The Haunting" Dennis Dugan, "Big Daddy" Peter Hyams, "End Of Days" George Lucas, "Star Wars: Episode I -- The Phantom Menace" Barry Sonnenfeld, "Wild Wild West"
"Big Daddy" "The Haunting" "The Mod Squad" "Star Wars: Episode I -- The Phantom Menace" "Wild Wild West"
Worst Actor of the Century
Kevin Costner The Artist Formerly Known As Prince William Shatner Pauly Shore Sylvester Stallone
Worst Actress of the Century
Elizabeth Berkley Bo Derek Madonna Brooke Shields Pia Zadora
Worst Picture of the Decade
"An Alan Smithee Film: Burn, Hollywood, Burn!" "Hudson Hawk" "The Postman" "Showgirls" "Striptease"
Worst New Star of the Decade
Elizabeth Berkley Jar Jar Binks (voiced by Ahmed Best) Sofia Coppola, "The Godfather Part III," "Star Wars: Episode I -- The Phantom Menace" Dennis Rodman, "Double Team" and "Simon Sez" Pauly Shore
"Whatever you do, do NOT refer to this film as a musical." That was the proclamation of British filmmaker Mike Leigh when "Topsy-Turvy" was screened at the New York Film Festival.
True, there are large-scale musical numbers, but these set pieces are there to illustrate and, in some cases, advance the plot. Instead, what Leigh has achieved is the most successful integration of theatrical production numbers and comedy-drama since Bob Fosse tackled "Cabaret" in the early 1970s. And like that movie, "Topsy-Turvy" is also set during a period of upheaval, although one more subtly portrayed.
Fans of Leigh's "social surrealism" (best demonstrated in the Oscar-nominated "Secrets & Lies" and the critically acclaimed "Life Is Sweet" and "Naked") will be in for a bit of a shock. In attempting his first large-scale period piece, the writer-director focuses not on the proletariat but on a turning point in the collaboration between bon vivant Sir Arthur Sullivan (a fine Alan Corduner) and the dour William S. Gilbert (an appropriately irascible Jim Broadbent).
The Victorian era mores were beginning to loosen, and Leigh slyly depicts this through Sullivan's relationship with the married Fanny Ronalds (Eleanor David), in some cast members' objections to loose-fitting costumes that press the boundaries of propriety, and by introducing technological innovations such as a reservoir pen and the telephone.
What is perhaps most impressive about this film, however, is that Leigh once again employed his tried and true methods of improvisations with the cast before actually writing the script. Despite the confines of historical fact, he has managed to craft an intriguing if overstuffed jewel box of a film. Some will carp over its split between biopic and backstage drama, while others may feel there are too many asides.
If Leigh has a weakness as a director, it is that he tends to include extraneous material. In "Topsy-Turvy," there are several such instances. On the other hand, Leigh is not a self-indulgent filmmaker; those added sequences are there either to provide background or to give a particular actor a moment. Still, there is a shapeless feel to the material, as if burdened with an excess of riches, Leigh felt he had to include it all.
The plot conflict arises from Sullivan's desire to compose loftier work than the popular operettas for which he became renowned. He voices his concerns that Gilbert (rankled by being called the "king of topsy-turvy" by the august Times of London) is repeating himself, and the pair is at loggerheads over fulfilling their contract with the Savoy Theatre. Through happenstance, Gilbert hits upon an idea that develops into "The Mikado," which rejuvenates their creative partnership.
On this rather slight outline, Leigh and company hang a visually and aurally beautiful film. Cinematographer Dick Pope bathed the film in crisp, clean lighting, lending it the look of history come alive, while production designer Eve Stewart crafted astonishingly detailed interiors and Lindy Hemming designed strikingly colorful costumes.
For the members of the D'Oyly Carte company, Leigh specifically hired actors who could sing. Among the more notable are Kevin McKidd, Jessie Bond, Timothy Spall and Martin Savage. While all of the actors turn in fine work, special note must also be made of Lesley Manville, whose heartbreaking performance as Gilbert's neglected wife gives the film some added dimension.
For those who prefer a more straightforward and comprehensive biographical film about the duo, they should check out 1953's "The Story of Gilbert and Sullivan" with Robert Morley and Maurice Evans. Those interested in a leisurely, if slightly meandering, but well-acted depiction of creativity filtered through Gilbert and Sullivan should check out "Topsy-Turvy."
* MPAA rating: R, for a scene of risque nudity.
Jim Broadbent: William S. Gilbert Allan Corduner: Arthur Sullivan Dexter Fletcher: Louis Suki Smith: Clothilde Wendy Nottingham: Helen Lenoir
A USA presentation. Director Mike Leigh. Screenplay Mike Leigh. Producer Simon Channing-Williams. Director of photography Dick Pope. Editor Robin Sales. Music Carl Davis and Arthur Sullivan. Production designer Eve Stewart. Costume designer Linda Hemming. Running time: 2 hours, 40 minutes.