Saturday, December 18, 2010

List of nominations for the 34th annual Japanese Academy Prize underwhelms with lack of diversity

by Chris MaGee

Yesterday saw the nominations for the 34th annual Japanese Academy Prize, popularly known as the Japanese Academy Awards, announced at a ceremony in Tokyo. There was one big surprise, but it didn't come from any of the nominees, it came from the way the awards are structured. Normally Japanese awards ceremonies, including the Japanese Academy Prize, announce the winners in advance and then hand out the trophies at a ceremony in the near future. This year the Japanese Academy Prize is going the way of North American and European awards ceremonies and announcing five nominees in each category who will compete during the official ceremony on February 18th. An interesting procedural development indeed, but it doesn't indicate a more daring group of nominees I'm afraid.

Looking over the list of nominees in the major categories you see the same five films being repeated again and again... and again - Sang-il Lee's "Villain", Yoji Yamada's "Younger Brother", Tetsuya Nakashima's "Confessions", Takashi Miike's "13 Assassins", and Izuru Narushima's "A Lone Scalpel". Not to say that these films (at least "Confessions" and "13 Assassins") aren't deserving of their nominations, but a little variety would have been nice. Not to toot our own horn here at the Pow-Wow at all, but just taking a look at our favorite picks of 2010 and all the films we've reviewed this year and it makes us wonder why films like "Golden Slumber", "Wandering Home", "Oh My Buddha!", "Sawako Decides" aren't represented amongst the nominees. It seems like the Academy bowed to some extent to international successes like Shinobu Terajima's astounding performance in Koji Wakamatsu's "Caterpillar", but besides that they stick almost entirely with the big names, even Yoji Yamada whose "Younger Brother" (above), a remake of Kon Ichikawa's 1960 classic, received almost universally bad reviews.

You can check out the major nominations below courtesy of Tokyograph who also have the full list of nominations posted here. There aren't that many surprises amongst those either we're afraid.

Picture of the Year:

Villain (Akunin)
Younger Brother (Otouto)
Confessions (Kokuhaku)
A Lone Scalpel (Kokou no Mesu)
13 Assassins

Animation of the Year:

Karigurashi no Arrietty
Eiga Doraemon: Nobita no Ningyo Daikaisen
Meitantei Conan: Tenkuu no Lost Ship
One Piece Film: Strong World

Director of the Year:

Tetsuya Nakashima (Confessions)
Izuru Narushima (A Lone Scalpel)
Takashi Miike (13 Assassins)
Yoji Yamada (Younger Brother)
Sang-il Lee (Villain)

Screenplay of the Year:

Masato Kato (A Lone Scalpel)
Daisuke Tengan (13 Assassins)
Tetsuya Nakashima (Confessions)
Yoji Yamada / Emiko Hiramatsu (Younger Brother)
Shuichi Yoshida / Sang-il Lee (Villain)

Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role:

Tsurube Shofukutei (Younger Brother)
Shinichi Tsutsumi (A Lone Scalpel)
Satoshi Tsumabuki (Villain)
Etsushi Toyokawa (Sword of Desperation)
Koji Yakusho (13 Assassins)

Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role:

Shinobu Terajima (Caterpillar)
Eri Fukatsu (Villain)
Takako Matsu (Confessions)
Hiroko Yakushimaru (A Good Husband)
Sayuri Yoshinaga (Younger Brother)

Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role:
Renji Ishibashi (A Good Husband)
Akira Emoto (Villain)
Masaki Okada (Villain)
Masaki Okada (Confessions)
Koji Kikkawa (Sword of Desperation)

Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role:

Yu Aoi (Younger Brother)
Kirin Kiki (Villain)
Yoshino Kimura (Confessions)
Yui Natsukawa (A Lone Scalpel)
Hikari Mitsushima (Villain)

1 comment:

keeperdesign said...

I've always wondered how the US Academy Awards justified their choices. Take "Gladiator", for instance: If it's the best film with the performance by the best actor, doesn't it follow that the film's director did the best job that year? Not according to voting. I'm surprised there's not even less variety.
With the Japanese awards, "Ototo" seems like a choice meant to involve older filmgoers. The rest of their choices may be repetitive from category to category, but I'm amazed to see 13 assassins, Villain and Confessions recognized together. These aren't easy or award-bait films. Now if Ototo wins, I'll be furious…
I expect a director/script/actress/film sweep by Confessions, though they might reward Villain with screenplay.