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Controversy-prone ‘Mother!’ generates even more controversy with Razzie nominations

January 24, 2018

Controversy-prone ‘Mother!’ generates even more controversy with Razzie nominations

CLEVELAND, Ohio – It’s awards season again, the time of year when the best films are recognized for their quality and cultural significance. However, at least one awards presenter singles out not the greatest movies of the year, but the most horrendous.

They are the Golden Raspberry Awards (better known as the Razzies), and they’ve raised eyebrows in 2018 for including the spiritual thriller “Mother!” in their nominations.

The nominees were announced late Sunday, and they include the usual slew of critical bombs and big-budget catastrophes. But filmmaker Darren Aronofsky’s latest project “Mother!” received nominations for worst director. Stars Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem earned respective nods for worst actress and worst supporting actor.

There is no doubt that the movie is divisive, but some are questioning whether it deserves to be singled out as one of the worst films of the year.

″ ‘Mother!’ does seem a bit over-represented at the Razzies, especially in the actress category,” wrote Vanity Fair’s Yohana Desta. She pointed out that the movie was embraced by subset of critics and legendary filmmaker Martin Scorsese said he liked it.

Jennifer Lawrence gave it her all, Desta wrote.

Chris Evangelista of slashfilm.com said the nominations for Aronofsky’s movie prove that the Razzies are “useless,” offering little in the way of legitimate film criticism and just riding the coattails of negative news coverage.

“Mother!” holds a 69 percent rating on review aggregator rottentomatoes.com and a 75 percent rating on metacritic.com, so it’s fair to say that most critics gave it a positive review.

Audiences, on the other hand, were less enthusiastic. It’s one of only 18 movies to receive an F from CinemaScore, which polls moviegoers, and it holds a 50 percent user rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

No matter how you feel about “Mother!,” there’s no question that Aronofsky is a visionary filmmaker, and his directorial style is not the thing that people don’t like about his movie.

(You can read my in-depth and spoiler-filled breakdown on the controversy surrounding “Mother!” here)

Meanwhile, Lawrence is an objectively talented actor. And while her effort in “Mother!” is not among her best, it’s difficult to justify mentioning it in the same breathe as the worst performances of the year.

For his part, Bardem is thrillingly creepy in “Mother!,” transforming himself into an aloof poet who ignores his wife and embraces dangerously adoring fans.

Even some of the critics who hated the movie admitted they were impressed with Bardem and Lawrence, so why do they appear on the Razzie’s list of nominations? An actor can give a solid, even great performance in a bad movie, and the women and men behind the Razzie nomination process don’t seem to acknowledge that.

Meanwhile, movies like the critical and commercial failure “The Book of Henry” – which convinced Disney to part ways with director Colin Trevorrow, who was slated to helm the ninth chapter of the “Star Wars” saga – were left out of the nominations entirely.

In the wake of “Mother!’s” multiple nominations, writers are again raising questions about the group’s process.

The Golden Raspberry Foundation doesn’t vet its judges as thoroughly as its more serious counterparts. Anyone willing to part with $40 can help decide the nominees in a given year. And judges reportedly aren’t required to watch movies before nominating them.

Perhaps as a result, the awards show tends to pick movies that garner media attention over films that are objectively awful, and writers have called the Razzies mean-spirited cries for attention rather than clever commentary.

“Mother!,” with its headline-generating controversy, seems an inviting target, even if it isn’t a particularly deserving one.

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