Each week, Fox's On the Lot pits a pool of aspiring filmmakers against each other in hopes of finding the one talented newcomer who will win a $1 million development deal with DreamWorks. Because it's unlikely any of these neophytes will win an Oscar — who does these days, other than Paul Haggis and whatshisface Scorsese? — we're giving out our own weekly awards.
This week, Disturbia director D.J. Caruso — the man who made Shia LaBoeuf a star! — joins regular judges Carrie Fisher and Garry Marshall to judge one-minute comedy shorts by all eighteen contestants.
Best Picture: Lucky Penny, by soft-spoken Texan Will, is nearly silent, elegantly directed, and extremely funny. D.J. Caruso compares Will to Buster Keaton; we think his film plays like a live-action Road Runner cartoon. Either way, it's delightful.
Best Director: In terms of sheer creativity combined with technical prowess, Zack continues to blow everyone away. This week's jaw-dropper is a single one-minute 360-degree shot of a Rube Goldbergian science lab. Garry tells Zack to change his last name (Lipovsky) to something easy to spell, as he's soon going to be famous.
Worst Picture: While at least Marty's fake action-movie trailer, The Big Bad Heist, isn't boring, we find it so lazy an attempt at comedy — and Marty himself, with his smirk and his chest hair, so personally irritating — that we're crossing our fingers that he gets voted off.
Stupidest Picture: Andrew's Spaced Out, which starts with a great premise — cop pulls over flying saucer — and immediately sets the bar low, with not one episode of alien barf but two. Carrie Fisher deadpans, "You did what George Lucas couldn't do: you made an alien barf." Though the judges seem to love Spaced Out, it's YouTube caliber at best. It will get the most votes of any of the movies this week.
Craziest Picture: Oh, Kenny. As you repeat ad nauseam, you don't have to go to film school to be a director. But your skateboard-video aesthetic doesn't play well amid your well-trained competitors, and your John Waters–esque lunacy Wack Alley Cab will probably get you voted off — unless those same guys who pushed Sanjaya urge people to vote for you.
Most Misunderstood Picture: Getta Rhoom, by Kentucky B-boy Jason, follows a nerd from a movie theater to Heaven — and then to Hell. This is the only movie that makes us laugh out loud, so we're aghast when the judges all latch on to Carrie's concern that the hero is so awkward and ungainly as to seem mentally retarded, making him an inappropriate target for comedy. Okay, (a) he wasn't retarded and (b) have any of these judges seen Napoleon Dynamite? Jason is our favorite contestant: He says the film that best describes his life is Pistol, a Pete Maravich biopic, and claims his theme song is "I Can't Wait" by Nu Shooz.
Most Adorable Contestant: A tie between Carolina, the Spaniard, and Phil from Manchester. Carolina looks like a Spanish Jennifer Aniston, and floppy-haired Phil looks about 12. Their films are both slick if a bit incoherent (and, in Phil's case, totally unoriginal).
Best Garry Marshall Overreaction: Adam's interpretive-dance short Dance Man is fairly funny, but from batty judge Garry Marshall's response, you'd think Adam just invented comedy. "Aristotle said you need a beginning, a middle, and an end, and he never made a movie!" says Marshall. "But you did!"