Thursday, January 15, 2009

Surprises at the 51st Annual Blue Ribbon Awards

by Chris MaGee

It seems that when you read the list of recipients of Japanese film awards for 2008 the results have ended up being the same again and again, namely : "Okuribito", "Okuribito" and "Okuribito", so it was a bit of surprise to see that the much praised Yojiro Takita drama didn't top the list at this year's Blue Ribbon Awards. The Blue Ribbon Awards have been handed out annually since 1958 by a committee of film critics and writers from seven major Japanese newspapers and this year instead of naming "Okuribito" as Best Film they broke ranks and gave the honour to Masato Harada's "Climber's High". The film, starring Shin'ichi Tsutsumi, Tsutomu Yamazaki, Kenichi Endo and Tomorowo Taguchi, tells the story of newspaperman Kazumasa Yuki and his coverage of the 1985 Japan Airlines Flight 123 air disaster.

Still, "Departures (Okuribito)" didn't go away empty-handed. Masahiro Motoki picked up best actor for his role as the unemployed cellist who takes a job at a funeral home; and I am very pleased to see that both Tae Kimura and Lily Franky were both honoured for their performances in Ryosuke Hashiguchi's "All Around Us", although 45-year-old Franky being named "Best Newcomer"?

Check out all the major winners below courtesy of Tokyograph:

Best Film: Climber's High
Best Director: Hirokazu Koreeda (Still Walking)
Best Actor: Masahiro Motoki (Departures)
Best Actress: Tae Kimura (All Around Us)
Best Supporting Actor: Masato Sakai (Climber's High)
Best Supporting Actress: Kirin Kiki (Still Walking)
Best Newcomer: Yuriko Yoshitaka (Your Friends)/ Lily Franky (All Around Us)
Best Foreign Film: The Dark Knight

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