by Chris MaGee
Now these are awards I can get behind. We've been doing a lot of reporting in the past couple months about the Kinema Junpo Awards, the Japanese Academy Awards, this person's top ten list and these top winners at a film festival... but what about letting the staff of a movie theatre name their picks? That's exactly what Cinemirai did.
Cinemirai is an independent cinematheque in Akasaka, Tokyo where the films programmed are decided on by a vote from its staff and patrons. Now that's definitely a concept I could see catching on (Listen up all you folks at The Bloor, The Revue and The Royal!)
Of course why should the folks at Cinemirai let all the big festivals and fancy awards ceremonies have all the fun naming the best films of 2008? So, in keeping with their democratic spirit Cinemirai turned to their staff and asked them to vote on what ten films stood out as the best last year. Top pick? Christopher Nolan's "The Dark Knight", a major Hollywood superhero film that didn't exactly have superhero powers at the Japanese box office. Coming in a very close second was Ryosuke Hashiguchi's "All Around Us". You can check out the full top ten below.
Cinemirai didn't just stop at its staff for the honours though. They asked three celebrity judges to vote on their favorite film of 2008. Which celebrities? Some pretty heavy hitters: Shunji Iwai named Yojiro Takita's Oscar-winning "Departures" as his top pick from last year while author and pop culture guru Juni Miura named Martin Scorsese's Rolling Stones concert film "Shine a Light" as his favorite film of 2008. Lastly Cinemirai brought in actress Yu Aoi and asked her which film she thought stood out above all others last year. Guess what she picked? Yuki Tanada’s "One Million Yen Girl" in which she played the lead role! Maybe all those rumours of Aoi being a diva might be true after all.
You can check out more about Cinemirai's Cinema Awards here, as well as give the theatre's official site a look here. Thanks to Cinema Cafe.net for the details on this.
Cinemirai's Top 10 Films of 2008 (as voted by its staff)
1. The Dark Knight - Christopher Nolan
2. All Around Us - Ryosuke Hashiguchi
3. Departures - Yojiro Takita
4. Still Walking - Hirokazu Kore-eda
5. Tokyo Sonata - Kiyoshi Kurosawa
6. Into the Wild - Sean Penn
7. United Red Army - Koji Wakamatsu
8. There Will Be Blood - Paul Thomas Anderson
9. No Country for Old Men - The Coen Brothers
10. Ponyo on a Cliff by the Sea - Hayao Miyazaki
UPDATE: Sometimes you have to eat crow when you blog about film and this is one of those times. Jason Gray has stepped up to correct some inaccuracies in my above story, and I've got to thank him. Live and learn...
Cinemirai is not a cinema -- it's a website set up by non-profit org JC3 (based in Akasaka) as a portal for the 100+ independent cinemas across Japan that are members of Cinema Syndicate. CS helps get smaller movies out of the big cities and into regional houses -- Kodomo no Kodomo was one of the first titles. The voting came from the staff of all those cinemas.