‘On the Lot’: Michael Bay Plays Simon Cowell

The majesty of Michael Bay.Courtesy of Fox

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.

With ratings flagging (worse than Univision last week!), Fox has taken the welcome step of cutting On the Lot from two and a half hours spread over two nights to a single hour on Tuesdays. As a result, last night's episode was a lot more engaging and a lot less boring than previous episodes, focusing on five contestants, showing us their films, and letting Michael Bay coldly assassinate those films afterward. That's right, Michael Bay, the leather-jacketed director of Transformers, was last night's guest judge, and beneath his leonine mane of gorgeous golden hair his chiseled features scowled at the majority of films on display. On the Lot may have finally found its Simon Cowell! Too bad he'll be long gone next week, probably replaced by Henry Winkler or something.

Worst Picture: Teri (Blind Date), by cocky contestant Trevor. You know your film is lousy when we can't even stand to watch all three minutes of it. We fast-forwarded through the last minute of this stilted "comedy" about a guy worrying about his blind date. Bay went easy on Trevor, only pointing out that his idea was a retread, his pacing wasn't that great, and he had little visual style. [Watch it]

Best Picture: In a landslide, wunderkind Adam's Dough: The Musical, a charming, well-written musical about a baker looking for love and a girl who doesn't eat carbs. It was so totally great that even Bay had to admit he liked it, though he did ding Adam for his boring visuals. [Watch it]

Best Bayian Response: Hillary's The First Time I Met the Finkelsteins, a well-written comic short about a girl meeting her boyfriend's awful parents, roused the slumbering lion that is Michael Bay. "Hillary," he purred, "in Hollywood that's what we call a 'groaner,' which means they're laughing at you instead of with you." As Hillary recoiled, he continued: "Your dialogue made me uncomfortable, you were hurt by your acting, and it just wasn't funny to me." Vérité-shot indie-ish comedy will get you booted off On the Lot faster than Michael Bay can kill a gazelle. [Watch it]