We couldn't resist. We asked the nation's critics to name the year's worst picture, a category that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences politely eschews. As in the past, there was no shortage of vented spleen. Critics always disagree about the worst, some favoring head-chopping horror sequels, while others take aim at respectable drama rife with pretense.
Never mind that "Barton Fink" took top awards at the Cannes Film Festival last spring. Michael Sragow of the San Francisco Examiner, when pressed to name the year's worst, chose--you guessed it--"Barton Fink." "Hook," "Cape Fear," "Regarding Henry" and "The Silence of the Lambs" each got as many worst votes as "Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man."
But, inevitably, there is one movie each year that manages to encapsulate an almost universal sense of awfulness. As if by osmosis, the critics know exactly which one.
" 'Hudson Hawk' was so bad I didn't even see it," bragged Ella Taylor of the Los Angeles Weekly, a Yogi Berra-ism if we ever heard one.
Lots of other film critics did. "Hudson Hawk," a big-budget flop starring Bruce Willis, was the loss leader as worst film of 1991. In keeping with our diplomatic tradition, we won't mention the vote pileup, but it was considerable.