Last week I published my awards for the best in film that I saw from 2016. Now it’s time for the worst. This is the Shitty Movie Sunday Awards. Unlike with the Empty Balcony Awards, a film doesn’t have to be released in 2016 to be eligible. I just have to have seen it sometime in the past year. This is more loosely constructed than my more serious awards, as well. I take these Shitty Movie Sunday Awards about as seriously as shitty filmmakers take their movies. Hell, last year I never even got around to writing this companion to the Empty Balcony Awards. These are shitty awards for shitty movies.
The How to Destroy a Brand Award goes to Zack Snyder. He is basically the man at the helm of the foundering ship that is the DC Cinematic Universe, having directed three of the DC films that have been released so far, with at least another two in the works. Snyder is a master at getting really good shots in a film. I mean, perfect shots. Glorious shots. Aesthetically ambitious shots. He strings them together one after the other, but with only the barest of story threads in between. Or, he’ll hammer the audience with shallow stories with vast, interlocking surface complexities that do little more than bore. He’s a poor director when it comes to plot, which is why Marvel is eating DC’s lunch right now.
The Memorial MacGuffin Award for Plot Simplicity goes to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I can’t pick on DC without giving Marvel their due. I’ve seen most of the Marvel films in their central continuity, and they, from The Avengers, to Guardians of the Galaxy, to…any of them, really, are all the same when it comes to plot. Only the names and costumes change. Marvel has nailed a formula, and all their films follow it. Meanwhile, DC eschews Marvel’s narrative simplicities for supposedly deep narratives, but they fail. Marvel runs out a hero, has them fight a bad guy with world, or universe, destroying aspirations, then sets up the next release. Lather, rinse, repeat. Until this formula stops paying dividends, audiences will continue to see flattened narratives with predictable plot points and climaxes. Look, I liked Doctor Strange as much as the next guy, but it really is just Iron Man with a different outfit.
The Remember When Paris Hilton Tried to Be a Movie Star Award goes to Paris Hilton, for her performance in House of Wax. This is a really bad movie. It was bad the last time I saw it, not too long after its 2005 release, and again when, in some late night haze of fever reducers and muscle relaxers, I decided to throw on a movie I wouldn’t mind losing to the oblivion of drug-induced amnesia. Alas, not only did I stay up for the whole thing, I awoke the next day and remembered it all. There was no blackout, no comforting gap in my memory where my experience of this shitty movie could reside. I remembered every time I saw Hilton’s stupid smirk and her dead readings. So, so bad. But this was still better than the turn she had in The Hillz. That movie was so bad it makes House of Wax look like The Exorcist.
The Remember When Jon Stewart Tried to Be a Movie Star Award goes to Jon Stewart for his role in The Faculty. We’ll never forget, Jon.
The Shitty Boston Accent Award goes to John Magaro for his role as plucky Seaman Ervin Maske in The Finest Hours. I could have chosen among many others for this award, but John is a mutual acquaintance and I just wanted to pick on one of Summit County, Ohio’s favorite sons. I’m not done with this flick, though.
The Never Go Full Retard Award goes to Chris Pine for his role as Boatswain’s Mate First Class Bernie Webber in The Finest Hours. No one, anywhere, in all of history, would ever believe that someone as hunky as Chris Pine would be a sniveling bag of timidity, as Pine played Webber for most of this film. There were times when Pine channeled his inner Lennie Small, and it made no sense for the role. This was a low-effort performance from a low-effort film. Even Casey Affleck’s acting had all the urgency of a guy in a bar using a pay phone, and he was on a sinking ship! This whole flick was a mess, but Pine was the lead, and he earned this award.
The Fabrizio De Angelis Award for Cinematic Skullduggery goes to the mysterious, unknown producers of The Bronx Executioner. That flick took Italian mockbuster sci-fi cinema to new lows. Not only is it a cheap ripoff of more successful Hollywood films, it’s basically a recut of an earlier shitty Italian film with some new shots spliced in. It lacks all of the charm of something like The Last Shark, which was a plagiaristic cash-grab in its own right. For shame, Bronx Executioner. A little bit more of my life ebbed away while I watched this awful piece of garbage.
The I Saw Roger Bart’s Dick Once Award does not go to Roger Bart. Rather, it goes to Eli Roth and his f/x team in Hostel: Part II. I had never seen this film before it showed up on Prime. Wow. I was not expecting the film to climax with such an explosion of gore. It was sick, but it was also spectacular. I never, ever, ever ever ever, want to see someone’s privates get cut off in a film again, please.
The Most Baffling Piece of Obscure Film to Show up on a Streaming Service goes to The Haunted Mouth. As of this writing, it’s on Prime. It’s stars Caesar Romero as an invisible specter in a haunted house who warns children about the dangers of plaque. I highly recommend watching this film. It only takes up about twelve minutes of a viewer’s time, but the experience will last a lifetime, I guarantee. How a film made for elementary or middle school health classes showed up on Prime is a mystery to me, but I’m glad it did.
The Olivia Newton John Award for Great Hair and Headbands goes to Barry Bostwick for Megaforce. Barry may have been in a real piece of shit, but he played his role with gusto. In fact, he may have been the only person involved in the production to show any enthusiasm. How could he not, what with such a spectacular coiffure with gold-fleck spandex bodysuit to match? Bostwick gives far more life to this film than it deserves.
The Absolute Awfullest, Worsest, Terriblest, Deadliest Shitty Movie I Saw Last Year Award goes to Let’s Go to Prison. Netflix tried to warn me away from this one. It was up there on the screen with only a single star next to the title, but like an idiot, I dove in. Then I went and watched it the whole way through, waiting in vain for something funny to happen. It never did. This flick was a crime against film. I hope I never think about this movie again after I publish this article.
That’s all I have. Alien: Resurrection is better than most of the movies I cited above.