Yep, there can be no doubt about it — 2000 really was a bad year for film.
How bad, you ask? Well, let's just say that those wise guys at the Hastings Bad Cinema Society have never been as busy as they are right now, trimming down their list of potential winners of Stinkers Bad Movie Awards.
In case you don't recognize the name, the Hastings group has been "scraping the bottom of the cinematic barrel since 1978," and compiling the most comprehensive "tribute" to awful cinema in the world, according to founders Ray Wright and Mike Lancaster.
Similar in mean-spirited but humorous tone to the Razzies and the Golden Turkey Awards, the Stinkers reward the
worst in cinema each year. In fact, they provide a refreshing alternative to all of the back-patting, handshaking and derriere-smooching Hollywood indulges in this time of year.
"Hollywood continues to aim squarely at the lowest common denominator. Whether that is a good or bad thing, it certainly keeps us busy," Lancaster explained.
And again, they've been extremely busy in the past year. Among the movies that are expected to receive Stinker nominations — and possible awards — are such duds as "Battlefield Earth" and "Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2," as well as the more popular "Charlie's Angels" and "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas," the latter being the year's highest grossing movie.
Not that Lancaster expects everyone to agree with their choices of nominees.
"Our opinions are no better or worse than anyone else's. We just know what we like, and more importantly, what we don't like, and aren't afraid to voice our opinions," he said. "If people don't agree with us, great. It doesn't hurt our feelings."
He and Wright got the idea for the Stinkers while working as movie-house ushers in Pasadena — jobs that allowed them to see more than 100 films for free in their spare time. "Some of those movies were so bad, even though we got in for free, we felt like we had been cheated," Wright recalled.
Since then, the Hastings Bad Cinema Society has given awards to such bombs as "Howard the Duck," "Caddyshack II," "Dune" and "The Avengers." And in 1993, the focus was expanded to include more than a dozen categories.
One area where the Stinkers have excelled — and where they surpass their competitors — is in presenting awards in unusual categories, such as The Sequel Nobody Was Clamoring For, Most Annoying Fake Accent, Worst On-Screen Couple and Most Painfully Unfunny Comedy.
The two men are still in the process of narrowing down the candidates. So there is still time to join the Hastings Bad Cinema Society and have your voice heard.
In the next week, the group will begin mailing out its "Worst of 2001" members-only ballot, with all 20 bad-movie categories on it. Winners will be announced March 23, two days before the Academy Awards are given out in Hollywood.
Annual membership in the organization is $5, but members are free to photocopy the ballot for friends, family and even perfect strangers. "All we ask is that you share it with people who love movies as much as you do," Wright said. "Get your spouse, kids, friends, relatives and co-workers — even the ushers at the local multiplex — in on the fun. They probably saw just as many bad movies as you did."
Completed official ballots must be postmarked no later than March 19 to count in the election. To join the Hastings Bad Cinema Society and vote for this year's Stinkers, write to P.O. Box 91114, Pasadena, CA 91109-1114, or contact the Stinkers Web site (www.thestinkers.com) for more information.
By the way, Wright and Lancaster are also running an online poll of the worst films of all time. On the Stinkers site, there's a list of 102 titles to choose from (including all the films on last year's 100 Years, 100 Movies list, plus the more recent additions "Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2" and "Dungeons & Dragons").
Browsers can vote for up to 10 of the films, and the voting site will be open until March 16. The top vote-getter from this ballot will be crowned the worst film of the 20th century. Results will be announced along with the "Worst of 2000" ballot "winners" on March 23.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: "(He) told me, 'You're as good as your last job. You're only as good as your last movie. You're as good as they tell you you are, and that's about it.' " — "Hannibal" star Anthony Hopkins, on show-business advice he received from late actor Burt Lancaster.