Monday, March 12, 2007

30th Japan Academy Prize

On February 16th were held the 30th Japan Academy Prize--the equivalent of the American Academy Awards for Japan. Like for the Oscars, the Japanese movies awards are voted by the members of the Nippon Academy-cho Association, so it is not a popularity prize but one voted by their peers. However, it remains an excellent way to take the pulse of the Japanese cinema.

The presentation of the awards is very different compared to its American conterpart: the film industry people sit not in a theatre but around tables and there's no entertainment show, no singing, no slapstic jokes, no long speaches. Instead, a TV presentator interview every single nominee. It allows us to learn much about the background of the actors and about the movies.

Here are the winners for 2007:

Best Movie: Hula Girls. The other nominees were: Ashita no Kioku (Memories of Tomorrow), Yamato, The Uchoten Hotel (Suite Dreams) [see review in PA#90: 74], Bushi no Ichibun (Love & Honor).

Best Anime: Toki wo Kakeru Shoujo (The Girl Who Leapt Through Time). The other nominees were: Stormy Night, Tales From Earthsea, Brave Story, Detective Conan: The Private Eyes' Requiem.

Best Director: Sang-Il Lee (Hula Girls). The other nominees were: Junya Sato (Yamato), Tetsuya Nakashima (The Life Of Hated Matsuko), Koki Mitani (Uchoten Hotel), Yoji Yamada (Bushi no Ichibun).

Best Actor: Ken Watanabe (Memories Of Tomorrow). The other nominees were: Joe Odagiri (Yureru), Satoshi Tsumabuki (Namida Soujou), Akira Terao (The Algebra Which The Doctor Loved), Koji Yakusyo (Uchoten Hotel).

Best Actress: Miki Nakatani (Life Of Hated Matsuko) [she was playing Hermes in Train Man]. The other nominees were: Rei Dan (Bushi no Ichibun), Masami Nagasawa (Namida Soujou), Kanako Higuchi (Memories of Tomorrow), Yasuko Matsuyuki (Hula Girls).

Best Supporting Actor: Takashi Sasano (Bushi no Ichibun). The other nominees were: Takao Osawa (Rinding In The Metro), Teruyuki Kagawa (Yureru (Swing)), Koichi Sato (Uchoten Hotel), Kenichi Matsuyama (Yamato) [he also played Shin in Nana and “L” in Death Note].

Best Supporting Actress: Yu Aoi (Yamato) . The other nominees were: Yu Aoi (Hula Girls) [she also played Hagu in Honey & Clover], Sumiko Fuji (Hula Girls), Masako Matai (Kamome Shokudo [see review in PA#90: 74]), Kaori Momoi ( Bushi no Ichibun ).

Best Foreign Language Film: Flag Of Our Fathers. The other nominees were: Crash, The DaVinci Code, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, Hotel Rwanda.

Newcomers Awards: Kenta Suga (Sunset Of Three District--Always), Muga Tsukaji (Mamiya Brothers), Mokomichi Hayami (Rough), Kenichi Matsuyama (Yamato), Yu Aoi (Hula Girls, Yamato), Rei Dan (Bushi no Ichibun), Shizuyo Yamazaki (Hula Girls), Yui (Midnight Sun [see review in PA#90: 74]).

Technical Awards: Film Editing: Yoshiyuki Koike (Kiraware Matsuko no Isshou); Sound Recording: Nobuhiko Matsukage & Tetsuo Segawa (Yamato); Art Direction: Toshiyuki Matsumiya & Shigeyuki Kondo (Yamato); Lighting Direction: Takeshi Nakasu (Bushi no Ichibun); Cinematography: Matsuo Naganuma (Bushi no Ichibun); Music: Gabriele Roberto & Takeshi Shibuya (Kiraware Matsuko no Isshou); Screenplay: Sang-Il Lee & Daisuke Habara (Hula Girls).

Special Awards: From the Association: Kazuyuki Suzuki (for Special Art Effects); Shigeru Okada Award (for a Corporation): Robot; Outstanding Achievement Award from the Chairman: the planning team of Limit Of Love--Umizaru; Special Awards from the Chairman: late Akira Ifukube (Music), late Shohei Imamura (Director), late Takahiro Tamura (actor), late Tetsuro Tanba (actor), late Takeomi Nagayama (former Shochiku chairman); Popularity Awards: Hula Girls.

I am disappointed that Yamato didn't get more than a few Technical Awards. I thought it would do better than that. See our review in PA#91.

I guess the movies to watch in the following months will be Hula Girls [a group of girls revive their village by creating an Hawaiian show for tourists], Ashita no Kioku (Memories of Tomorrow) [a man's family has to deal with his early Alzheimer], and Bushi no Ichibun [the problems of a young samurai who becomes blind; set in Yoji Yamada's samurai series that also includes The Twilight Samurai [Cf. PA#80: 47] and The Hidden Blade].

© Nippon Academy-cho Association.

Special Thanks to Nobuko Takeda for recording the show and to my wife Miyako for the translation.