Thursday, January 22, 2009

"Departures (Okuribito)" and "All Around Us" take top spot at the Mainichi Film Awards

by Chris MaGee

On the same morning when everyone is gearing up to hear the Academy Award nominations we also get the list of winners of the 63rd Annual Mainichi Film Awards. It's a good day for film lovers...

Only a few surprises in the list below (courtesy of Tokyograph). Of course Yojiro Takita's "Departures (Okuribito)" has won yet another honour, this year's Grand Prize, while Ryosuke Hashiguchi's wonderful "All Around Us" deservedly picked up Best Film; but the real surprises for me are the categories that seem to buck the trend of the previous major Japanese film awards. Instead of Kirin Kiki as best supporting actress for "Still Walking" we get Keiko Matsuzaka for her role as Seita's aunt in Taro Hyugaji's live-action "Grave of the Fireflies, and while Masahiro Motoki has swept this year's awards, winning best actor again and again for his performance as Daigo Kobayashi in "Departures" Mainichi instead honoured Hiroshi Abe for his roles in "The Blue Bird" and "Still Walking". It's also interesting to see Koji Wakamatsu, former pinku eiga director and branded terrorist, picking up Best Director for "United Red Army".

The trophies for the 63rd Annual Mainichi Film Awards will be handed out at a ceremony on February 4th.

Grand Prize: Departures (Okuribito)
Best Film: All Around Us (Gururi no Koto)
Best Foreign Film: The Dark Knight
Best Actor: Hiroshi Abe - The Blue Bird (Aoi Tori), Still Walking (Aruitemo, Aruitemo)
Best Actress: Eiko Koike - Kiss (Seppun)
Best Supporting Actor: Masato Sakai - After School, Climber's High, Jersey no Futari
Best Supporting Actress: Keiko Matsuzaka - Grave of the Fireflies (Hotaru no Haka)
Sponichi Grand Prix Newcomer Award: Haruma Miura - Naoko/ Riisa Naka - Café Isobe (Junkissa Isobe)
Kinuyo Tanaka Award: Kimiko Yo
Best Director: Koji Wakamatsu - United Red Army
Best Screenplay: Ryosuke Hashiguchi - All Around Us (Gururi no Koto)
Best Cinematography: Tomohiko Tsuji - United Red Army
Best Art Direction: Kyoko Yauchi - The Witch of the West Is Dead (Nishi no Majo ga Shinda)
Best Music: Taro Iwashiro - Chrildren of the Dark (Yami no Kodomotachi)
Best Sound: Satoshi Ozaki - Departures (Okuribito)
Technical Award: Towako Kuwajima, Takayuki Masuo, Shinji Tsuchiya, Masahide Yanagawase for visual effects in Paco and the Magical Picture Book (Pako to Mahou no Ehon)
Best Animated Film: The Sky Crawlers
Noburo Ofuji Award: Ponyo on a Cliff by the Sea (Gake no Ue no Ponyo)
Best Documentary: Where did flowers go to? (Hana wa Doko e Itta)
Fan Award (Domestic Film): I Want to Be a Shellfish (Watashi wa Kai ni Naritai)
Fan Award (Foreign Film): Red Cliff: Part I
Special awards: director Kon Ichikawa, actor Ken Ogata, cinematographer Hiroshi Kusuda

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