Monday, April 27, 2009

Oscars Abroad (Hong Kong)

While I sometimes feel guilty about the ethnocentricity of calling any film prizes "the [insert nationality] Oscars" it's convenient shorthand. I think awards junkies (and you know who you are) would be a lot more interest in "the ____ Oscars" like the Cesars (France), the Goyas (Spain), the Guldbagge (Sweden) among many others if the films were readily available for viewing and information/photos were easier to find*. I dream that someday corporate globalization will have one good cinematic result: easier access to any type of cinema instead of the interminable waits, spotty drawn out release patterns and the bewildering practice of doing all the work of getting a film on DVD and yet only making it available in one market, cutting off potential revenue.

Your octuplet guide to popular titles at 2009's Hong Kong Film
Awards.
Only one of these films (CJ7) was released in the US.

Which is all a long way of saying that I wish I could watch all the Hong Kong Film Award winners (announced last week but still not on IMDB?) back to back for at least one Oscar'ish article. I'd love to do the same for other countries, too.

One of the amusing things about checking out the winners of 'the ____ Oscars' is that they tend to follow the same patterns. The often formulaic biopic genre excites voting bodies everywhere... not just in Hollywood. Ip Man, a biopic about Bruce Lee's master took Best Picture. Wouldn't there be at least a small market for that film in the US? Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story was among the top 50 releases of 1993 without anything other than the Lee mythos to sell it. This is only tangentially Lee related but still... KUNG FU! Action is the most internationally marketable genre.

Though Ip Man won the top prize, Donnie Yen (left) lost best actor and the film only collected one other prize: Best Action Choreography. The Way We Are, a small drama about women in a working class neighborhood was the most celebrated winning director, screenplay and both female acting prizes. Beast Stalker, a kidnapping drama, won both of the male acting statues. The star heavy blockbuster Red Cliff (its lack of US distribution still puzzles me) took home five technical prizes. The supernatural action film Painted Skin won only two prizes (cinematography and song) suggesting only mild support. Why was it their Oscar submission last year, one wonders?

Oscars 2009? Beast Stalker and Ip Man were both released after the AMPAS eligibility period in 2008 so either could theoretically be chosen as Hong Kong's Foreign Language entry later this year. Stay tuned...

*If you know of any non-US blogs that are covering their home country's cinema / celebrities / awards well, please share them in the comments or e-mail me a recommendation.

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

I agree with you regarding that you should find informations regarding national awards more easily.

for what concernes HongKongFilmAwards (by the way, historically one of the most unconventional awards guild worldwide, since they celebrated thorugh the years the neverending talent of people such as Wong Kar-wai, Tsui Hark, Stephen Chow, the two Tony Leung (!!!), Maggie Cheung, Christopher Doyle, Jackie Chan, Donnie Yen, Chow Yun Fat, Anthony Wong, Gong Li, Patrick Tam, Zhang Ziyi, Anita Mui, Jet Lee and so many others...) this year they took some odd decisions,
since they selected as Best Picture a quite popular flick such as IP MAN, but the triumph hasn't repeated in the other category.
Donnie Yen received the best coreography award (I see it as a way to reward him, without giving him the much more prestigious Best Actor award)

Afte IP MAN, 3 other films were particularly lucky that night: Dante Lam's Beast Stalker, Ann Hui's latest and RED CLIFF...John Woo's return to Hong Kong (and to the good cinema...).

PAINTED SKIN took just two techincal prizes and that made us the occasion to repeat how much wrong choice for the academy awards it was. it's not a bad movie (Arthur Wong's cinematography is actually very fine) but it had no chances with some people who snubbed WALL*E or THE DARK KNIGHT...actually for many years Hong Kong submissions have been quite disappointing...

it seems they chose movies without great confindance...maybe the IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE snub many years ago was a such disappointment they don't thrust Academy anymore. Actually, could we blame them for it?

mirko s.

NATHANIEL R said...

could we blame them for it? NO.

Especially considering that IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE was actually an arthouse hit (therefore accessible enough) and a masterpiece

grrrrrr..

Slayton said...

I'm quite excited to see "Claustrophobia".

Brian said...

The Beast Stalker and Claustrophobia are playing the San Francisco International Film Festival, currently running. I'm hearing lukewarm reviews of the former, but am excited to see the latter.

It's clear that piracy and DVD importing have scared US distributors from importing Asian films that once would have been slam dunks for a release here. A situation that makes Asian film fans turn to piracy and DVD importing for their fix. Nice vicious circle, that.

NATHANIEL R said...

it's like drugs: If they would legalize it (i.e. release films with regularity and without 2 to 3 years of waiting -- consumers aren't patient with any other business. why do movies think they're exempt?) the crime would disappear or at least be robbed of a great deal of its power.

Ben said...

How much does Beast Stalker look like the Children of Men poster? Am I crazy?

angry spanish boy said...

well, you didn't make a special blog entry about Goya Awards in Spain

Yan said...

Nat, Im really surprised that you never talk about Ann Hui's films, since she is indubitably the most actressexual director in Asia ! I'm sure you will love "The way we Are" and its companion piece "Night and Fog".

Regardless of its quality, Derek Yee's "Shinjuku Incident" is very likely to be this year's submission. The subject matter is very political and controversial, not to mention it has Jackie Chan in his most serious and dark role.

NATHANIEL R said...

angry spanish boy... I SHOULD HAVE. that's my point. these things have no media presence in america.

so i need better foreign contacts so i can be quicker with these things. i can't believe how long it takes to find photos from these events in other countries for example.

Iggy said...

This is the only blog on Spanish cinema I visit from time to time, though I never comment (why? no idea, no specific reason):

http://lacomunidad.elpais.com/alta-definicion/2009/1/30/premios-goya-repaso-antes-la-gala.

It's not a personal blog but part of www.elpais.com and this year they did some live blogging for the Goyas. The other site I visit is www.fotogramas.es, the online version of the main movie magazine. But I don't know if you can speak Spanish, so...

Just a couple of things about the Goyas. They are aired with a 30 minutes delay to edit and cut the uneventful parts (i.e. people on their way to the stage, etc), but that doesn't prevent it from being a long show.

And you could say that the preferred "genre" for Goyas is Spanish Civil War movies which I guess is the equivalent to Holocaust movies for Americans. But to be fair Goyas aren't afraid of nominating other genres (Los crímenes de Oxford). And in general, people still link Goya=quality.

Anyway, it's true there isn't much coverage of other countries movie awards. I don't even know if there are let's say, Swedish Oscars, I guess there must be, but what's their name, the Bjorns? To be true, I've never found shocking there's no much information about that, it fits perfectly the situation of European movies within Europe. It takes much longer to see a European movie (even if neighbours) than to see that Miley Cyrus product.

Fernando Moss said...

In Mexico, the Ariels would be almost impossible to cover the way you cover the Oscars (for an entire year) because it's so weird how they nominate films that only 2 people saw and nobody ever heard about and then end up premiering 3 years later... And they (amost) never nominate for Best Picture the film they send to the Oscars.

Categories in the Aries for acting are more like your Nat: Leading, Supporting and Limited Roles, but the category placement are really confusing sometimes (most of the time).

angry spanish boy said...

Well, Nat, I'm sure you have getty images, you have google, you have lots of Spanish people that tell you that the Goya Awards are also given. Not every year it's Almodóvar or Amenábar, but they are there, giving awards.

I would feel better if you swear you'll post something related next January 2010 when the Goya Awards are given.

Douglas Racso said...

I've seen IP man. It was interesting and kinda good, in a way. Not my cup of tea. Red Cliff felt a little messy to me. You guys should go check out "Love of Siam" . PLEASE PLEASE PRETTY PLEASE

Wayne B. said...

hmmm...I feel bad that I don't really keep up to date on my country's Genies. They take place in early February usually, this year Passchendaele won Best Picture, Ellen Burstyn (YAY!) and Kristin Booth won the female honors. Natar Ungalaaq and Callum Keith Rennie the male honors. Benoit Pilon (Necessities of Life) won Best Director.

I was amazed to find out Sarah Polley actually won Best Director last year @ the Genies and "Away From Her" won Best Picture. Now I'm even more shamed I haven't seen it. :)

par3182 said...

is that a recent pic of donnie yen? 'cause he's the same age as me and, if so, that's not fair...

Glenn said...

For what it's worth, I routinely write about "Australia's Oscars" (The AFI Awards) it's just that they're, generally, not that interesting and outside of the September-December months there's not much news to talk about. Our awards do follow the same standards as others. Heartwarming wins out over innovative. Biopic performances and uglification always works (in the case of Eric Bana in Chopper it was a twofer!)

You mentioned these awards not being on IMDb yet, well as tragically sad as it is the AFI nominees weren't even on the IMDb! The AFI themselves hadn't notified them (or something) and so it was up the film producers to do it themselves. So the nominees page made it look like categories only had one or two nominations.

I finally notified the AFI about this and they soon rectified it.

Peter Chan said...

I'm currently in HK and watched 'Red Cliff' and its sequel 'Red Cliff 2' for the first time, it's interesting work and like most Chinese franchises, the original work is so much more superior.

I'll bring home some DVDs for ya. :P

Jesper.L said...

It would be fun if someone Is at least making an article of the Swedish Guldbagge this year, cause Swedish movies as never been better than in 2008. De Ofrivilliga, Låt den Rätte Komme In, Maria Larssons Eviga Ögonblick, Patrick 1,5 etc. We dared to try and succeeded.

Jeffrey said...

Wong Kar-wai is doing his own biopic of Ip Man entitled THE GRAND MASTER. Tony Leung Chiu-wai will play the lead role and it will also star Chang Chen. Filming begins in June.

Bing147 said...

Most of these films its possible to get ahold of in the US at least on DVD through some tiny retailer... eventually. But its often 2-4 years and by then most people lose interest. I could probably get most of the nominees from say, the 2004 Goya's at this point, without too much trouble if I was interested. But the 2008? Forget it.

Peter Nellhaus said...

By the way, Nathaniel, I wrote about two of the films on my site. Many of them are available on import DVD at reasonable prices. Hint: check the HKFlix link at the top of my blog or the links with my reviews of Sparrow and Red Cliff.

Anonymous said...

Nathaniel, have you seen the Julia trailer with Tilda Swinton? amazing!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Mqc4w4oV6U

Anonymous said...

BTW, Gong Li is also in the WKW biop[c