In each of the 19 categories, five films are nominated for a Smithee Award. Normally, a nomination will be not just for a film, but for a specific scene in that film which particularly exemplifies the spirit of the category. While some of these categories are self-explanatory, others can get rather obscure. To help explain what these awards mean, we provide you here with a description of what members of the Smith-ka-teer Nominations Committee are told to look for in their selections for each category.
- The Most Ludicrous Premise Award
Given for the most ridiculous raison d'être for a film (i.e., why the characters are where they are, what they're doing there, etc.). Often, the film's title will say it all. Common symptoms: realizing this is why you rented it in the first place.
With no apparent motive other than sheer orneriness, the Devil possesses a late-model Geo Metro and wreaks havoc on a small, Midwestern suburb.
- The Oblivious Award
Given to the character(s) not noticing or deducing events self-evident to a newborn slug. Common symptoms: yelling "Turn around!" or "Look up!" or "C'mon! He's right there!" at the characters on-screen.
The 30-foot gorilla "sneaks up" behind the trained commando unit. OR At the film's climax, the main characters act shocked to discover that the vampire is none other than the Mayor, the guy with pointy teeth who greeted them back in Scene 3 with, "Good Evening. Velcome to Dooselheim," and who has never been seen in daylight.
- The "Wanna Run That By Me Again?" Award
Awarded to the least comprehensible line or conversation. Common symptoms: saying "Huh?"; rewinding the tape to listen again and still not understanding the dialogue.
The scene shows a car driving down a desert road. In a voice-over, a narrator inexplicably says, "The day starts early for some men...even those with no future. So has it been, so will it be."
- The "Let's Up The Rating To 'R'" Award
Presented for the most inexplicable, contrived, and/or inappropriate sex scene or display of nudity. Common symptoms: whooping; drooling; leaning closer; craning the head in various positions; putting the VCR in "slo mo."
An astronaut rescues a female moon-alien from some mechanical monsters. Within the hour, they're making out in his fragile moon-tent, in spite of the still-present danger and her unknown sexual compatibility with humans (though, from what we can see, she looks thoroughly human).
- The "Alas, Poor Yorick" Award
Given to the character with the stupidest (i.e., via idiotic means) or most pointless (i.e., overly convenient) death. Common symptoms: saying "Ouch. That's gotta hurt."; wincing; saying "Guess he/she/it just wanted out of the movie."
While running from an unseen noise, Obnoxious Sailor #2 trips and falls into a shallow pool, only to perish on the pointy spines of dozens of sea urchins. OR UltraMegaMan, with his Powers Supreme, has helped the heroes through many a scrape during the film, but is killed by an ordinary bullet toward the end. Just Because.
- The Deus Ex Machina Award
Presented for the most contrived, unbelievable escape for the character(s), usually by sheer luck, an outside force arriving in the nick of time, or tremendously rare resources just "happening" to be on hand. Common symptoms: yelling "Oh, c'mon!" or "Yeah, like that'll happen."
Just as the bad guy is about to shoot our defenseless protagonists, a coral snake slithers up and bites him on the ankle. And they're in Northern Canada. OR McGreuter, inventor and part-time adventuring detective, is trapped in a room that's slowly filling up with diet root beer. He knows he could save himself if only he had two eggshells, a cap pistol, and a stale cheese danish. Well, what do you know…
- The Stupidest-Looking Monster Award
Whether it's crummy costuming or cheap clay-mation, this award is virtually self-explanatory, though it can also include the use of bad stock footage or really chintzy special effects trying to pass as a "monster." Common symptoms: laughter; snickering; saying "Ooo, I'm so scared."
Without warning, the actors start throwing themselves to the ground and begin doing sudden, inexplicable maneuvers. "It's invisible!" someone yells. Yeah, so's the budget.
- The Worst Science Award
Goes to the least scientifically valid (i.e., Just Plain Wrong) explanation or least believable "scientific" double-talk for a Bad Movie phenomenon. Common symptoms: saying in a German accent "...und zis vill cause monkeys to fly out of my butt..."
"These horrible creatures are from Xeno, that mysterious tenth planet in our solar system, which you can see here--just beyond Alpha Centauri and the Asteroid Belt..." And this from the alleged world authority.
- The Best One-Liner Award
This is the award for the most amusing (your interpretation) line of dialogue. Common symptoms: hysterics; rewinding the tape just to hear it again.
Asked why he left the dining room so suddenly just before the time of the murder, Hank replies, "When nature calls, sometimes it calls collect..."
- The Worst Cover Copy Award
Awarded to the video whose cover copy has the least to do with the actual film; whose stills (or in some cases, drawings) are of low quality, are inappropriate, or are misleading; and/or whose "tag line" is cheesy above and beyond the call of duty. Common symptoms: re-reading the back cover three times just to make sure they didn't switch boxes on you at the video store.
"The Oklahoma Weed-Whacker Slaughter -- 'Cause we couldn't find the hedge trimmer."
- The "Cutting Butter With A Chainsaw" Award
Presented to the scene with the most "overkill," or in which extraordinarily difficult measures are taken to solve an otherwise simple problem. Common symptoms: whooping as you make the "touchdown" gesture; diving to turn down the volume control; saying "Why didn't he/she/they just..."
Our Action Hero throws a decapitated body down an elevator shaft, followed by three or four hand grenades. OR Although the crew of the Starship Journey are all ultra-geniuses, the Security Detail takes two hours to blast through a terrorist barricade, "forgetting" that they have the technology to instantaneously teleport.
- The Inane Dialogue Award
Given to the character(s) whose dialogue is most Inane. It Came From The Late, Late, Late Show, Stellar Games' B-movie roleplaying game that helped inspire the Smithees, defines Inane Dialogue as: "the emphatic observation of the painfully obvious, or a statement that the audience knows is going to be contradicted quickly." Common symptoms: saying a heartfelt "No s***!" or an equally heartfelt "Yeah, right."
BANG! The gun goes off and a man slumps to the ground. Someone from the nearby crowd rushes over to the victim, turns toward the gunslinger, and stammers accusingly: "Y-you shot him! He's dead!" OR After cleverly eluding the last pursuing car, the main character joyfully announces, "We're home free--nothing can stop us now!" He spots the overturned tanker in his path a millisecond later.
- The "Whoops!" Award
The nominees in this category are all scenes in which things occur that are clearly not intended to be in the script. Continuity errors, bad editing, and boom shots are all examples which would fall under this category. The prize goes to the most glaring of these. Common symptoms: looking at your friends and saying "Did you see that?"; rewinding and paying closer attention.
Cap'n Bones gets his left hand bitten off by the Killer Barracuda in Scene 4, and is shown with a hook replacing his right hand in Scene 7.
- The "WHAT?!" Award
This is for the sequence of events requiring the biggest jump in logic or suspension of disbelief. It is distinguished from the "Whoops!" category by the fact that the movie-makers obviously meant for this stuff to be in the film, but, well, it just doesn't work. This may overlap with a number of other categories and may in fact be an extreme example of one or more of them. Common symptoms: getting up and pounding your head into a wall while screaming "No f***ing WAY!"
The medieval swords-and-sorcery heroine abruptly produces a sawed-off shotgun from somewhere inside her skimpy bodice and mows down the cultists who've surrounded her. She later explains it was a gift from a wizard. Sorry. Uh-uh. No way.
- The Acting Appropriately Stupid Award
Late Show notes: "A character in a Bad Movie does things to lower his life expectancy that no person in their right mind would ever consider doing. Such behavior is called Acting Appropriately Stupid." This is awarded to just such a character, who takes that unbelievably risky or irresponsible action none of us would take under similar circumstances. Common symptoms: yelling "No! Don't!" at the screen; saying to yourself, "This can only lead to tragedy." while shaking your head sadly.
Although otherwise a brilliant detective and master strategist, our hero Sheerluck Jones downs the glass of sherry offered by his snickering arch-nemesis, Dr. Pennyante. OR Expendable Extra #4 finds a trail of fresh blood leading into a darkened junkyard. Curious, she heads in alone to see what's become of her pet schnauzer.
- The Worst Special Effect Award
Going to the special effect most glaringly fake, cheap, or just plain silly. This category also includes the worst use of Stock Footage. Common symptoms: "There was clearly a string/stick/screen/hand involved!"
A toy spaceship carrying the villains crashes spectacularly, string and all, into a model of the Parthenon. OR Dirk Dangerous jumps from the Burgermeister's blimp just before it explodes. The grainy black-and-white footage of the explosion is suspiciously familiar.
- The Crummiest Ending Award
For the movie whose resolution is least satisfying, usually because it has little or nothing to do with the actions of the main character(s), or because it's contrived, abrupt, or just plain confusing. Although this can sometimes overlap with the Deus Ex Machina Award (q.v.), a Crummy Ending tends to involve the final defeat of the menace (or the heroes!) and is typically the last scene of the movie. Common symptoms: "I stayed up to watch the end of THIS?!?"
Just when the ToeJam Beast is about to snack on our heroes, aliens swoop down in their starship and zap the monster. They apologize for accidentally having created it with their 'hyper-beam,' and make amends by giving Mankind the cure for cancer. OR Suddenly, dawn breaks. The hordes of Undead shrivel to dust, leaving the heroes to contemplate their brush with the Supernatural.
- The Worst Acting Award
This award is given to an individual performer for a special achievement in Bad Acting. Unlike most of the other awards, the entirety of the performance may be considered in the nomination, although one particularly illustrative film clip must still be designated to be shown and voted on at the awards ceremony. Common symptoms: imitating the Bad Actor; holding up imaginary cue cards; sudden references to William Shatner.
Carla is mysteriously looking off to the left as she delivers the line: "Now we must re...align the...phase converters?" OR Professor von Schnassel must be quite the linguist, since he speaks with German, French, and Scandinavian accents--all within the same scene.
- The Worst Picture Award
The most coveted prize, awarded to the film with that perfect blend of any/all of the above elements. Again, the entire film is considered, although one or two illustrative clips should be designated for the ceremony. Common symptoms: spontaneous combustion or brain-melting; taking power tools to your VCR; enlistment in a convent and/or Foreign Legion; logging on so you can e-mail the Smith-ka-teers right away.
Too many to mention…
Oh, and in case you were wondering, most of the examples provided above are in fact taken from real films -- only the names and some minor specific details have been changed so as not to bias the voting. See if you can find which films were used (Hint: try the Film Gallery).
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