Smithee AwardTM Categories

In each of the 19 categories, five films are nominated for a Smithee AwardTM. 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-teerTM Nominations Committee are told to look for in their selections for each category.

Most Lucicrous Premise | Oblivious | "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 | "Whoops!" | Worst Editing
"WHAT?!" | Acting Appropriately Stupid | Worst Special Effect | Crummiest Ending
Worst Acting | Worst Picture

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Given for the most ridiculous raison d'Ítre 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.
Example: With no apparent motive other than sheer orneriness, the Devil possesses a late-model Geo Metro and wreaks havoc on a small, Midwestern suburb.


Given to the character(s) not noticing or deducing events self-evident to a newborn slug.
Examples: 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.


Awarded to the least comprehensible line, dialogue, or conversation.
Example: 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."

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Presented for the most inexplicable, contrived, and/or inappropriate sex scene or display of nudity.
Example: 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).


Given to the character with the stupidest (i.e., via idiotic means) or most pointless (i.e., overly convenient) death.
Examples: 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.


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.
Examples: 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...

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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."
Example: 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.


Goes to the least scientifically valid (i.e., Just Plain Wrong) explanation or least believable "scientific" double-talk for a Bad Movie phenomenon.
Example: "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.


This is the award for the most amusing (your interpretation) line of dialogue.
Example: 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..."


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.
Example: "The Oklahoma Weed-Whacker Slaughter--'Cause we couldn't find the hedge trimmer."

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Presented to the scene with the most "overkill," or in which extraordinarily difficult measures are taken to solve an otherwise simple problem.
Examples: 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.


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." Audience gut-reactions of "No s***!" or "Yeah, right" are often big tip-offs.
Examples: 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 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. Before 1994, this category was known as "The Worst Editing Award." "Whoops!" was introduced as an expansion and clarification of that category.
Example: 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.

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For the film with the worst dubbing, out-of-order scenes, and the like. This category was used in 1992 and 1993 before being replaced by The "Whoops!" 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.
Example: 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.


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.
Examples: Although otherwise a brilliant detective and master strategist, our hero Sheerluck Jones graciously 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.

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Going to the special effect most glaringly fake, cheap, or just plain silly. This category also includes the worst use of Stock Footage.
Examples: 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.


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 and is typically the last scene of the movie.
Examples: 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.


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.
Examples: 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.

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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.
Examples: Too many to mention...

Now that you understand the categories, you can go back to the top and do it again.
Alternatively, you can view the winners, browse the list of past nominees, or return to the Smithee AwardsTM Main Page.
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).

Go ahead and E-Mail the Smith-ka-teersTM at They won't mind.

© 1992-1997 Bryan Cassidy - Last modified 12/22/97
It Came From The Late, Late, Late Show quotes are copyright Stellar Games and are used with permission.