Oscar History

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More Kudos for The Grandmaster

The awards journey of Wong Kar Wai's long-gestating martial arts history epic continues. Though The Grandmaster didn't win a Best Foreign Language Film Oscar nomination, it nevertheless became one of those rare subtitled pictures to become a multiple Oscar nominee even without that honor. Though it's not likely to win either of its Oscar nominations, more trophies might be coming its way. It lost the Golden Horse for Best Picture, Asia's most prestigious film trophy, but now it leads the Hong Kong Film Award nominations with 14 nominations. Its nearest rival is Unbeatable, a fight tournament movie with 11 nominations which is really much closer to a Hollywood style inspirational sports drama like Warrior. (I reviewed the latter at TIFF last year.) 

Eddie Peng and Nick Cheung in UNBEATABLE

For those who, like me, are confused at the amount of different film awards for the Chinese film industry, I have asked and it works out something like so. There are three major regions (Taiwan, China, Hong Kong) and they each have film awards; The Golden Horse are from Taiwan and are considered the most prestigious because they have the widest open playing field (all three major regions are eligible for prizes plus places like Singapore -- which took Best Picture for Ilo Ilo if you'll recall) and they are the oldest and thus an institution; the Hong Kong Film Awards concentrate on Hong Kong cinema and China's Golden Rooster concentrates on mainland China... though in all three cases certain films work around the rules. It was ever so in film awards from anywhere, yes?

The nominee list, with more commentary, is after the jump


  • The Grandmaster
  • Unbeatable
  • The White Storm
  • The Way We Dance
  • Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons

I haven't heard of the other three pictures. Would anyone care to tell us about them? 


  • Wong Kar-wai, The Grandmaster
  • Johnnie To, Drug War
  • Benny Chan, The White Storm
  • Derek Kwok, As the Light Goes Out
  • Dante Lam, Unbeatable

Tang Wei in Finding Mr RightBEST ACTRESS

  • Zhang Ziyi, The Grandmaster
  • Sammi Cheng, The Blind Detective
  • Paw Hee Ching, Rigor Mortis
  • Tang Wei, Finding Mr. Right
  • Cherry Ngan, The Way We Dance

Nice to see Tang Wei (Lust, Caution) gainfully employed again. Now can we get some of her pictures over here in the US please? Ziyi took the Golden Horse for her mesmerizing cool in The Grandmaster. Will she win again? Will America ever care about her again or was that only a 2000-2005 thing?


  • Nick Cheung, Unbeatable
  • Sean Lau, The White Storm
  • Anthony Wong, Ip Man: The Final Fight
  • Tony Leung Chiu-wai, The Grandmaster
  • Louis Koo, The White Storm 

Interesting how many movies there are about Ip Man lately, huh?  By my count that's at least three in the past few years. Nick Cheung is really good in Unbeatable as a small time crook / failed fighter trying to become a stand up guy.

Carina Lau in Young Detective DeeBEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS 

  • Helena Law, The White Storm
  • Carina Lau, Young Detective Dee: Rise of the Sea Dragon
  • Crystal Lee, Unbeatable
  • Kara Wai, Rigor Mortis
  • Du Juan, American Dreams in China 

Awww, the Leung/Lau household gets to celebrate dual nominations. (If you're like "what?" please note that Tony Leung Chiu Wai, TFE's favorite Asian movie star of all time, is married to Carina Lau)  


  • Zhang Jin, The Grandmaster
  • Tong Dawei, American Dreams in China
  • Huang Bo, Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons
  • Eddie Peng, Unbeatable
  • Anthony Chan, Rigor Mortis 

Hmmm. Eddie Peng is totally a lead in Unbeatable. It's one of those two lead same gender movies so I guess even Asian film awards like to play fast and loose with Category Fraud in those instances. It's not a romantic drama but they do have a silly faux kissing scene as fighting mentor and aggressive student. FWIW Zhang Jin plays the enemy of Zhang Ziyi's family in The Grandmaster, the one she fights in that absurdly beautiful train station showdown. 


  • Du Juan (American Dreams In China)
  • Fish Liew (Doomsday Party)
  • Lin Gengxin (Young Detective Dee : Rise Of The Sea Dragon)
  • Babyjohn Choi (The Way We Dance) 
  • Angel Chiang (A Secret Between Us)

Du Juan, Fish Liew, Lin Gengxin, Babyjohn Choi, Angel Chiang

Here is what they look like in case their newish careers actually do pan out (unless Google images did me wrong). Don't you sometimes wish the Oscars had this category? So many other country's film awards do. Even the Golden Globes jettisoned this type of award. Probably too embarrassing in the long run because who ever knows about actors after their first couple of films. 

I don't have the strength to type up ALL of the nominations since there's no easy copy/paste way from the official site but if you're curious here's the whole list. The Grandmaster and Unbeatable show up practically everywhere and the vampire flick Rigor Mortis, has a lot of nominations, too. Here's a still... 

The Shining anyone? 

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Reader Comments (11)

I haven't seen these movies, so I can't judge anything but the beauty of the actors. If you were to place these actors next to any set of Oscar-nominated actors from the last decade and judge them on beauty alone (an important part of our movie love, I hate to say), there would be no contest!

February 5, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterOwen Walter

I have seen Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons. It's from Stephen Chow, the director behind Kung-fu Hustle and Shaolin Soccer.

I'm genuinely surprised that it get nominated because it's a really terrible movie. The movies lacks all the charm of the practical effects of Chow's first movies in favor of really cheap CGI.

One of the worsts of the year by my account.

February 5, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPedroPet

I would give the award to Babyjohn for his name alone! Now, must go google photos of Eddie Peng...

February 5, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDave in Alamitos Beach

Nathan, now I can't work because of that pic of Eddie Peng!

February 5, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy


February 5, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I wouldn't mind getting a closer look at Eddie Peng...

February 5, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJaragon

The Way We Dance, in a way, is kind if a surprise since it stars all unknown actors and few had heard of it.
The White Storm is the typical thriller that Hong Kong movies do best. It's one of the best recently. It's three stars all show up at Best Actor race, only Nick Cheung was nominated for another film. In my opinion, The White Storm should be Best Picture winner, But they are definitely giving it to The Grandmaster. Global fame factor, you know.
And you're right, there were thousands of Ip Man movies in past few years. I am so sick of the trend already.

February 5, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPJ

judging by my reaction to that photo, unbeatable is grossly misnamed

February 5, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterpar

OK, where's Jason from MNPP to watch and screencap Unbeatable for the good of Mankind? Come on, Jay! Use your powers for Good! The internet needs you!

On a less hormonal note, I am very fond of the stylings of The Grandmaster and I am pleased to see it win any awards for Art Direction, Cinematography and Costume Design. Oh, and Zhang Ziyi is very good in it as well (though I admit to being overly sold on the combination Zhang Ziyi + asses being kicked).

February 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCarmen Sandiego

par -- genius. I didn't see Unbeatable in theaters, it just seems to make more sense as home entertainment...

Other notes/thoughts:
I wouldn't really say The Way We Dance is a surprise, considering how big of a word-of-mouth hit locally that one was. However, nothing from its trailer/music video suggests that it is more than a Step Up of Hong Kong.

Also didn't see White Storm, as I think this is the year when I am done with the police movies Hong Kong keep churning out.

I am pretty sure the industry is done with Ip Man. Even Donnie Yen is having trouble moving forward with the 3rd one for his franchise.

Pretty sure that's not the right Angel Chiang. Try this one:

February 6, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterkin

Nathaniel, there's no recovering for your entire readership the moment you picked THAT picture of Eddie Peng.
Oh well, there goes my whole night .

February 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRicopolo

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