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… On this day, I see clearly, everything has come to life.

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A Closer Look At The 14th Annual Hong Kong Film Critics Society Awards

Revised at 12:04 pm

Last week, the Hong Kong Film Critics Society released the winners list for its 14th annual awards. I was incredulous when I saw that it named THE POSTMODERN LIFE OF MY AUNT as the Best Film of 2007. I had an Allen Iverson-practice moment when I read the news. I mean, we’re sitting here and the award is supposed to go to the best film of the year and aunt_dvd_2.jpgwe’re talking about THE POSTMODERN LIFE OF MY AUNT? THE POSTMODERN LIFE OF MY AUNT? THE POSTMODERN LIFE OF MY AUNT? Not MAD DETECTIVE, not THE WARLORDS but THE POSTMODERN LIFE OF MY AUNT. We’re supposed to be talking about the best movie of the year produced by an industry that I follow passionately and approach every movie it makes like it’s going to be the best movie I’m ever going to see and we’re talking about THE POSTMODERN LIFE OF MY AUNT.

I reviewed the film last May and thought that there was no poignancy in its unyielding sadness. As a result, I was stunned when I found out it was named Best Film. In order to get an understanding of why the Hong Kong Film Critics Society (HKFCS) awarded the movie with the top prize, I decided to read the society’s official awards statement. At the very least, I hope to learn what the society members were on when they made their decision because I want to get me some of that. ;-)

On January 20th, the HKFCS gathered to determine its annual awards. After nine spirited hours of debate and three rounds of voting, the society named the winners of its 14th annual awards. In all, fifty-one films were considered but only nine or ten were serious candidates for awards. THE POSTMODERN LIFE OF MY AUNT emerged as the Best Film of 2007. It was nominated for voting consideration along with the following films:

THE WARLORDS
EYE IN THE SKY
MAD DETECTIVE
WHISPERS AND MOANS
TRIANGLE
HOOKED ON YOU

After the preliminary round of voting, only three films: THE POSTMODERN LIFE OF MY AUNT, THE WARLORDS and MAD DETECTIVE were considered for the final vote. THE POSTMODERN LIFE OF MY AUNT won.

Why? According to the HKFCS:

The POSTMODERN LIFE OF MY AUNT is unrestrained filmmaking from Ann Hui On-Wah that shows she is back at the top of her game. Bringing forth a fresh perspective from the haze of her older work, Hui uses Shanghai to reflect the current state of Hong Kong and the helplessness of life. She has made a richly-layered and touching film that reveals sorrow through humour and allows passion to seep through restraint. It moves from being wildly imaginative to being simple and unadorned. A masterful display of exquisite brushwork that deftly paints a portrait of the human spirit.

Obviously, the HKFCS saw the poignancy in Ye Rutang’s tragic fate that I failed to see. I still maintain that the film’s thematic nuances are too faint to be meaningful. If somebody out there “gets” the film, I’d appreciate it if you would let me know what I’m missing because all I see is a heavy-handed, blunt delivery of the “life sucks sometimes” theme and not a “masterful display of exquisite brushwork that deftly paints a portrait of the human spirit.”

FOR THE RECORD: The following is the list of candidates nominated for voting, the finalists and the winners in the Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actress and Best Actor categories:

 

Best Director

Best Screenplay

Best Actress

Best Actor

Nominated

For

Voting

Ann Hui On-Wah
THE POSTMODERN LIFE OF MY AUNT

Peter Chan Ho-Sun
THE WARLORDS

Yau Nai-Hoi
EYE IN THE SKY

Johnnie To Kei-Fung, Wai Ka-Fai
MAD DETECTIVE

Law Wing-Cheong
HOOKED ON YOU

Li Qiang
THE POSTMODERN LIFE OF MY AUNT

Wai Ka-Fai, Au Kin-Yee
MAD DETECTIVE

Fung Chi-Keung
HOOKED ON YOU

Yau Nai-Hoi, Au Kin-Yee
EYE IN THE SKY

Herman Yau Lai-To, Yang Yee-Shan
WHISPERS AND MOANS

Chun Tin-Nam, Aubrey Lam Oi-Wah,
Xu Lan
THE WARLORDS

Siqin Gaowa
THE POSTMODERN LIFE OF MY AUNT

Candace Yu On-On
WHISPERS AND MOANS

Kate Tsui Tsz-Shan
EYE IN THE SKY

Miriam Yeung Chin-Wah
HOOKED ON YOU

Teresa Mo Shun-Kwun
MR. CINEMA

Charlene Choi Cheuk-Yin
SIMPLY ACTORS

Jet Li
THE WARLORDS

Lau Ching-Wan
MAD DETECTIVE

Chow Yun-Fat
THE POSTMODERN LIFE OF MY AUNT

Anthony Wong Chau-Sang
MR. CINEMA

Simon Yam Tat-Wah
EYE IN THE SKY

Tony Leung Ka-Fai
EYE IN THE SKY

Final

Vote

Ann Hui On-Wah
THE POSTMODERN LIFE OF MY AUNT

Peter Chan Ho-Sun
THE WARLORDS

Johnnie To Kei-Fung, Wai Ka-Fai
MAD DETECTIVE

Chun Tin-Nam, Aubrey Lam Oi-Wah, Xu Lan
THE WARLORDS

Li Qiang
THE POSTMODERN LIFE OF MY AUNT

Wai Ka-Fai, Au Kin-Yee
MAD DETECTIVE

Siqin Gaowa
THE POSTMODERN LIFE OF MY AUNT

Jet Li
THE WARLORDS

Lau Ching-Wan
MAD DETECTIVE

Tony Leung Ka-Fai
EYE IN THE SKY

Winner

Ann Hui On-Wah
THE POSTMODERN LIFE OF MY AUNT

Wai Ka-Fai, Au Kin-Yee
MAD DETECTIVE

Siqin Gaowa
THE POSTMODERN LIFE OF MY AUNT

Tony Leung Ka-Fai
EYE IN THE SKY

From left to right: Teresa Mo, Chow Yun-Fat, Simon Yam

MISCELLANEOUS THOUGHTS:

- It was good to see that Kate Tsui Tsz-Shan was considered for Best Actress. For a while there, I was afraid I was impressed with her work only because my expectations were lowered by the negative chatter about her acting on the discussion forums.

- Also good to see Teresa Mo get consideration for her role in MR. CINEMA. Here’s hoping she gets a Hong Kong Film Award nomination as well.

- Speaking of MR. CINEMA, I’m surprised it wasn’t in consideration for Best Film. Granted, it’s not a weighty piece of work but I thought it was more insightful and a better piece of art than THE POSTMODERN LIFE OF AUNT.

- Wow, the HKFCS must have really, really liked THE POSTMODERN LIFE OF MY AUNT. Not only did it win Best Film but Siqin Gaowa won Best Actress uncontested in the final round of voting. Wow. I’m sorely tempted to reach out to the HKFCS to see if someone there can enlighten me on their love for the film.

- I have much respect and admiration for Chow Yun-Fat’s body of work over the years but I can’t believe the HKFCS thought his performance in THE POSTMODERN LIFE OF MY AUNT was one of the top five performances in 2007. As I said back in May, if it wasn’t the mighty Fat-Gor giving that performance on the screen, my eyes would be rolling at the exaggerated gestures and hammy expressions. Even if you accept the premise that the demeanour was a deliberate ploy by a conman out to scam a lonely woman, I don’t know if 5% of HK entertainment fans would categorize it as one of the year’s top five performances.

- I actually thought Simon Yam Tat-Wah did better work in EXODUS than he did in EYE IN THE SKY. Still, it’s nice to see that he’s getting some recognition. Since Lau Ching-Wan won a Hong Kong Film Award last year, I think Simon Yam Tat-Wah is the next unrecognized veteran who needs to get recognized with a HKFA. Let us all burn incense and offer fish and roasted suckling pigs to the Hong Kong Movie Gods in support of Simon Yam.

IMAGE CREDITS: Beijing Poly-bona Film Publishing Company (THE POSTMODERN LIFE OF AUNT poster, Chow Yun-Fat), Sil-Metropol Organization (Teresa Mo), Filmko Pictures (Simon Yam)

4 Responses to “A Closer Look At The 14th Annual Hong Kong Film Critics Society Awards”

  1. Webmaster Kozo Says:

    Actually, I really liked Postmodern Life of My Aunt, though I’m not sure if I would rate it as 2007’s best film, either. It would be guaranteed a spot on my Top 10, though.

    From a filmmaking perspective, it’s a very accomplished work, and the HKFCS are, by and large, very intellectual and academic about how they go about things (just look at their reasoning for the selection). The film is also wholly unsatisfying from an audience perspective, and has plenty of detractors. Just visit IMDB and you’ll find them.

    About Exodus, I’m guessing that it was ignored due to politics. I don’t think that the HKFCS particularly cares for Pang Ho-Cheung. They recognized Men Suddenly in Black but have ignored him every year since. Conversely, they seem to adore Soi Cheang, who they gave props to yearly up until Dog Bite Dog and Shamo. Since that streak includes such titles as Death Curse and Home Sweet Home, one wonders if there isn’t some sort of Home Court Advantage going on.

    Also, the Golden Bauhinia Awards, run by the Hong Kong Film Critics Association, have regularly trumpeted the work of Pang Ho-Cheung, while ignoring Soi Cheang, so one wonders if Pang doesn’t have any buddies in that organization.

  2. Eric Says:

    Well the thing about Simon Yam’s work in Exodus, was that he a was a bit over-the-top hehehe.

    -cheers-

  3. glenn Says:

    I don’t think Simon Yam was over-the-top at all in Exodus. The film’s premise may have been farfetched but I felt like he kept himself contained throughout the entire film and it was that tension (and high production values) that made the film worth watching.

    Not many actors could make that story work. You could almost feel the bottled up tension in the dinner scenes with Simon Yam and his wife and his mother.

    Postmodern Life of My Aunt was extremely well made but ultimately soul-crushing. What was the point of that flick? It was like Amelie or Memories of Matsuko without any ray of sunshine at all. And it wasted Vicky Zhao.

    Maybe the critics just like to send messages on what kinds of films they would like to see get made instead of what was actually the best film of the year? Like the Oscars, lol.

  4. antonymous Says:

    Maybe the critics somehow got the idea that HK film has an undeserved image problem..

 
 
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