Did you really harbor Hopes for such title-says-all losers as Blame It on the Bellboy, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Shakes the Clown? It's the dogs made by top directors that warrant dishonorable mention. The following list represents 1992's major creative setbacks:
1. Toys: The nadir for the year and for Barry Levinson, who was riding high with Bugsy. Toys emerges as the most calamitous waste of talent (Robin Williams) and money ($40 million) since Ishtar. Levinson's anti-war-games message is hardly new, and the smug self-righteousness with which he delivers it is infuriating.
2. Dracula: For any true admirer of director Francis Coppola, this expressionist, décor über alles Dracula is a stake through the heart. Coppola's narrative drive hasn't stalled so disastrously since One From the Heart. The performances -- Gary Oldman's witty count excepted -- range from hammy (Anthony Hopkins) to hopelessly amateurish (Keanu Reeves).
3. Boomerang: The Hudlin brothers, director Reginald and producer Warring-ton, made a striking 1990 debut with House Party, a comedy about black teens that played fair with both sexes. That's what makes the roaring misogyny of Boomerang, with Eddie Murphy as the sexist-pig hero, doubly offensive and shocking.
4. Single White Female: A woman-slashes-woman flick that demeans Jennifer Jason Leigh and Bridget Fonda would be bad enough. But the sellout direction of the great Barbet Schroeder (Reversal of Fortune) adds insult to injury.
5. Shadows and Fog: The alarming trend toward style over substance afflicts Woody Allen, whose failed attempt to make comedy of Kafka strands a large cast, including Mia Farrow, Jodie Foster and Madonna. Happily, Allen regained his footing with Husbands and Wives.
6. Hero: When you put together Stephen Frears, director of The Grifters, David Webb Peoples, writer of Unforgiven, and a cast led by Dustin Hoffman, Geena Davis and Andy Garcia, you expect more than a bilious blend of Preston Sturges cynicism and Frank Capra sentiment.
7. Raising Cain: Brian De Palma emerges from the ashes of The Bonfire of the Vanities to do something even more depressing -- a self-hating parody of the thrillers (Dressed to Kill, Blow Out) that made us admire him in the first place.
8. Used People: This year's Prince of Tides award for worst dysfunctional-family saga goes to Beeban Kidron, a woman director who started small (Antonia and Jane) and wound up infecting herself and some fine actors (Shirley MacLaine, Jessica Tandy) with shrill excess.
9. Man Trouble: In 1970, Bob Rafelson directed Jack Nicholson in Five Easy Pieces, a film that sticks in the memory. Reteamed with Nicholson, who plays a guard-dog trainer, Rafelson made a charmless comedy that sticks in the craw.
10. 1492: Columbus tanked in 1992 -- this Italian living in Spain was played by Gérard Depardieu with an impenetrable French accent. Ridley Scott also had it rough -- this director followed his Thelma & Louise triumph with an epic clinker.
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