Because Everybody Is Entitled To My Opinion

"O LORD, revive thy work in the midst of the years, . . . in wrath remember mercy" (Habakkuk 3:2).
"Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee?" (Psalm 85:6)

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

And the award for "Stupidest Looking Monster" goes to...

You won't find that category at the Oscars but there is an wards show that does honor the best of the worst movies ever made. I am talking about the Smithee Awards. It has all the pageantry of the Academy awards with the added bonuses of no acceptance speeches and the films actually are ones you may have seen. I know, I have attended the Smithee awards now for more than a decade. That includes a MegaMetaSmithee awards show too! But more on that later. Let's start with What are the Smithee Awards. From their FAQ:

The Smithee Awards, or "Smithees," is an annual ceremony which celebrates Bad Cinema. In principle, it's sort of the Anti-Oscars, though in practice it's more like the Anti-People's-Choice-Awards. A number of films are so "honored" each year, and there are nineteen categories in which a movie might win.

Some distinguishing characteristics to help you get the flavor of things: We limit ourselves to titles available on home video, and year-of-release is irrelevant. We clip the films for you; this means you're not forced to watch the whole movie, only the best bits. There are five clips per category, during which we tend to withhold comment and allow the film to speak for itself (though an occasional gut-reaction may slip out). Oh, and the voting audience, not we, are the final arbiters as to who takes the prize (so there can be no possibility of anything being rigged).

Not many people actually get a statuette, since thus far only two have claimed their Smithee. Can't imagine why.

The two in question were Walter Koenig of Star Trek/Babylon 5 fame and Jeff Conaway of Taxi/Babylon 5 fame. When I said there were no acceptance speeches at the Smithees, I was being honest. Conaway however was a good sport and agreed to be a "Guest of Honor" and talked to the audience. Koenig took the trophy and bailed as fast as he could. Here is why they were honored; from an email from Host/Fearless Leader: Bryan Cassidy (a.k.a. Allen Smithee):

Glad you enjoy the Smithees. Jeff received his award in the “WHAT?!” category for his work in the film A Time To Die, starring Traci Lords. His speech about the giant turd was actually in reference to a gag gift he and his fellow cast members once gave to a hard-drinking director of theirs. The Smithee Award statuettes themselves are actually deceptively handsome: A golden trashcan on a square base, with a strip of film wound around it emblazoned with the word “Smithee Award.”

Walter got his award for Moontrap, yes, in the Worst Cover Copy category, though he was nominated for Worst Acting, too (we didn’t tell him that part, since he was reluctant to accept even the WCC award).

To date, no other actor has graced us with their presence at a Smithee Awards ceremony with the sole exception of Kenny Baker, who entered with his wife, took one look around, and walked right out. We’re so proud.

So where are these awards held that such luminaries as Koenig, Conaway and Baker just stroll in and out? And Why is it called the Smithees? Well to answer the second question first I return to the FAQ:

Where did you get such a weird name?
The name "Allen Smithee" (various spellings) has been the film-industry standard pseudonym used in the credits for any director who wishes to have his name disassociated from a movie. This is done usually because the film has either strayed too much from the director's original vision, or because he suddenly realizes that his vision just plain stinks. In 1992, when Bryan Cassidy, with the help of Greg Pearson, came up with the idea for an awards ceremony glorifying Bad Movies, "The Smithee Awards" seemed truly appropriate.

Recent developments in Hollywood have spread the rumor that since the name "Allen Smithee" has become too well-known, it will be retired. Nonsense! Even if the name itself becomes less widely used, Mr. Smithee will simply assume a new one -- the spirit which Allen Smithee stands for will never die! Wherever a ghost writer pens a mediocre memoir, he'll be there. Wherever a comedian forgets a punchline, he'll be there. After the apocalypse, when the last light bulb in the last camera has burnt out and we have all reverted to cavepeople, he'll be there whenever someone smudges the yak blood on the painting they were doing... Actually, I forgot exactly where I was going with this, but you get the idea.

Now where do the awards take place? Columbus Ohio. The Smithee Awards are part of the Origins International Game Expo, this year held June 29 - July 3. The awards are held Saturday Night at 7:00pm. And for the past few years it has been standing room only. The Game Expo which is hosted by GAMA (Game Manufacturers Association) has had many Sci-fi and Fantasy film stars as Special Guests over the years.

I always make it a point to attend the Smithees. It has been a blast each time and it gets better every year. There are 19 categories and 5 nominees in each category. The audience votes and the winners announced. The rest as they say is history.
The categories are
    Most Ludicrous Premise
    "Wanna Run That By Me Again?"
    "Let's Up The Rating To 'R'"
    "Alas, Poor Yorick"
    Deus Ex Machina
    Stupidest-Looking Monster
    Worst Science
    Best One-Liner
    Worst Cover Copy
    "Cutting Butter With A Chainsaw"
    Inane Dialogue
    Acting Appropriately Stupid
    Worst Special Effect
    Crummiest Ending
    Worst Acting
    Worst Picture

Now as if this weren't enough, every six years, the winners of the previous five years in each category are pitted against each other in the MegaMetaSmithee Awards. There have been two so far. The Smithees have been around since 1992. You can find a list of all the winners at their web site.

And of course I always have a complaint about something. The Smithees are generally family friendly. Occasionally a clip will have bad language but Bryan is always careful to announce it before hand. That leaves the one category, "Let's up the Rating to "R". It is for that gratuitous nude scene which has no other purpose in the film except to get an R rating. Personally I could do without the entire category but it is part of what makes bad movies bad. Like I said Bryan does give plenty of warning and gives parents time to get the kids out of the room.

Other than that I thoroughly enjoy the Smithee awards. I make it a habit to attend every year. I tell everyone I know about it and now I've told you! If you are in Columbus for the 4th of July Weekend, stop in!

Submitted to OTB Traffic Jam and basil's blog.

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