You may recall that last year the Golden Horse celebrated its 50th year so it was a big big deal. All the stars of Chinese language cinema were out with all the living winners of the lead acting prizes prominently displayed on stage. Zhang Ziyi finally took home Best Actress for The Grand Master, a prize that had continually eluded her. This year, the 51st, is bound to be a let down in comparison but it's still worth noting since we like to see how the Oscar submissions from various Asian countries fare. So let's just hit that straightaway...
THE GOLDEN ERA (Ann Hui) - Hong Kong's Oscar submission
This historical bio of a famous female writer finds Lust Caution's then-novice star Tang Wei headlining another acclaimed 3 hour period epic. It's nominated for 5 awards and they're all major ones: Feature, Director, Actress, Supporting Actress and Original Screenplay. No tech nominations though, which seems strange for a period epic. I'm still kicking myself for missing this one at TIFF but it's hard to fit the super-sized movies into those jampacked schedules.
ICE POISON (Midi Z) - Taiwan's Oscar submission
Our own Oscars don't ever have the "lone wolf" director anymore with the expanded Best Picture lineup and an increasing willingness to embrace chillier critical darlings anyway, but the Golden Horse got one this year. This Taiwanese drama about a poor young farmer and a woman escaping an arranged marriage who both get mixed up in selling crystal meth is only nominated for Best Director.
MY BELOVED DEAREST (Sanif Olek) - Singapore's Oscar submission
Last year, Singapore was the surprise winner of the Best Feature Golden Horse (which tilts heavily China and Hong Kong) for their Oscar submission Ilo Ilo but this year their representing film either wasn't eligible or was not well loved by the Golden Horse jury. Zero nominations.
We don't yet know what the mainland has chosen as their Oscar submission but the other films that were embraced by the Golden Horse Jury were: Black Coal, Thin Ice from China and winner of the Golden Bear early this year (Glenn reviewed) which led nominations with 8 including all the biggies - Feature, Director, Actress and Actor; Blind Massage from China, exactly what it's title implies, was not far behind with 7 nominations including Feature and Director; Kano from Taiwan, a true story baseball movie set in the 1930s won 6 nominations including Feature and Makeup & Costumes; Coming Home, the new Gong Li drama about a man returning from prison to his estranged wife, missed the key nod for Best Feature but won 5 other nominations including two for acting: Gong Li and a Newcomer nod for Zhang Huiwen who plays her daughter; Paradise in Service was also big in acting categories with three supporting nods but it missed Best Feature, too; A Fool about parents desperate to save their son convicted of a crime won five nominations including Feature.
And finally, just because it's fun to know these films -- and because yours truly kind of misses the days a decade ago when everyone was excited about wuxia movies - other films that did well, particularly in the tech awards included Brotherhood of Blades set in the Ming dynasty, The White Storm a drug underworld action film, No Man's Land about a lawyer's adventures in the Gobi desert and the biggie, a wuxia prequel with five tech nominations: Young Detective Dee: Rise of the Sea Dragon which is available on Netflix Instant Watch.
You can see a complete list of nominations here.
Extensive charts of this year's foreign language Oscar submissions (71 announced to date) are fully updated here.