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27th Hong Kong Film Awards Preview: Best Actress

Previously:

Unlike the Best Film and Best Actor categories, if LUST, CAUTION had qualified for this year’s HKFAs, it would be hard-pressed to take home the Best Actress award. While Tang Wei gives delivers an impressive performance in her first movie, it likely would not have been enough to knock off the formidable performance turned in by the number one ranked nominee in this category. Who turned in the year’s best performance? She can be found among these five nominees:

Teresa Mo Shun-Kwun (MR. CINEMA)
Zhang Jingchu (PROTEGE)
Siqin Gaowa (THE POSTMODERN LIFE OF MY AUNT)
Rene Liu (KIDNAP)
Charlene Choi Cheuk-Yin (SIMPLY ACTORS)

5. Zhang Jingchu (PROTEGE)

Perhaps my ability to appreciate actors portraying drug addicts has been dulled by being exposed to dozens of skels and Monie Tung Man-Lei in WHISPERS AND MOANSjunkies over my many years of watching cop shows like NYPD BLUE and THE SHIELD but there doesn’t seem to be anything especially remarkable about Zhang Jingchu’s take on a drug addicted-mother. It’s a competent performance but it’s neither memorable nor extraordinary. If you were to compare Zhang’s performance to another drug addict portrayal from a 2007 film — Monie Tung Man-Lei’s heroin-addict hooker in WHISPERS AND MOANS — you would be hard-pressed to argue that one is significantly better than the other. Awards are about rewarding excellence and, frankly, Zhang’s performance in PROTEGE is good but not great.

4. Rene Liu (KIDNAP)

In the past, Rene Liu has delivered the goods and demonstrated that she’s an above average actress so her ranking here is more of a reflection on KIDNAP than it is of her acting ability. Playing a mother desperate to get her son back, Liu is given plenty of opportunity by the film to show off her acting skills. However, KIDNAP never rises above the level of a “popcorn movie” so it’s hard to take her character seriously — especially when she has to do “cheesy things only people in the movies do” like ram the car of her ex-husband’s new girlfriend. If Liu were to win, it would be like Jodie Foster getting Oscars for THE BRAVE ONE and FLIGHT PLAN instead of SILENCE OF THE LAMBS and THE ACCUSED.

3. Charlene Choi Cheuk-Yin (SIMPLY ACTORS)

An earnest but malformed attempt to be 2007’s MY NAME IS FAME, SIMPLY ACTORS has Charlene Choi Cheuk-Yin Charlene Choi Cheuk-Yin in SIMPLY ACTORSportraying a Mainland-born CAT-III star looking to improve her acting skills and break into the mainstream. At first blush, the role seems to lend itself to the lowbrow hijinks viewers used to see in Wong Jing comedies of the late-1980s/early-1990s but Choi never lets her character descend into caricature and even manages to offer a few sincere and touching moments. If it wasn’t evident before, it certainly is evident now: Charlene Choi is capable of more than her cutie-pie Twins act. I hate to say this — given that Gillian Chung Yan-Tung’s career has been ruined by the scandal — but “Sexy Photos Gate” may be the best thing that could happen to Ah Sa because it allows her to break up with Ah Gil without having to break up with her.

2. Teresa Mo Shun-Kwun (MR. CINEMA)

My sentimental favourite to win in this category, Teresa Mo plays a pivotal part in MR. CINEMA and delivers a memorable and deeply affecting performance that will resonate with members of Hong Kong nation who have a loving, hard-working mother in their lives. Unfortunately, her chances of winning in this category are hampered by the fact that she really belongs in the supporting actress category instead of the one for lead actress. It is an outstanding performance but it may not be enough to topple the work turned in by …

1. Siqin Gaowa (THE POSTMODERN LIFE OF MY AUNT)

Though it was in service to a film that doesn’t quite work, Siqin Gaowa gives the richest performance among the nominees. Siqin Gaowa in THE POSTMODERN LIFE OF MY AUNTShe shows a great range as her character transforms from a vibrant and independent Shanghai woman to a demoralized woman who is forced to move back in with her estranged family in Manchuria after time and circumstance have beaten all the spark out of her. The performance is fine-tuned and nuanced, punctuated by appropriate moments of haughtiness, vulnerability and then despair.

By any objective measure, it is, by far, the best performance of the year. Yet, I have the same head-heart dilemna with it as I did with the film. My head tells me that Siqin Gaowa deserves the victory but my heart wants Teresa Mo to win.

Image credits: Tesbury (Monie Tung), Golden Scene (Charlene Choi), Beijing Poly-bona Film Publishing Co. Ltd. (Siqin Gaowa)

6 Responses to “27th Hong Kong Film Awards Preview: Best Actress”

  1. Will Says:

    I think you may be right about Charlene because I read this week that she replaced Gillian as celebrity model for Adidas.

    I agree with you about the best actress noms, right down to thinking Siqin Gaowa will win but rooting for Teresa Mo. I wouldn’t mind if Charlene won either.

  2. Eliza Bennet Says:

    I haven’t seen Kidnap, Mr.Cinema or Simply Actors :(

    I liked Post Modern Life of … and Siqin Gaowa really gave a brilliant performance.

    I think that Zhang Jingchu’s (the pic doesn’t look like her)performance shined becaused everyone else was either bad or blah or hindered by make up and fake teeth.

    I can’t seem to like Ah Sa’s performances simply because she is not a good on screen crier. And it is very important for me whether an actor can cry well or not. Moreover she can’t take me away with her performance - this happened only twice one in Funeral March and the other in Just One Look. I hope that she improved since everyone liked her in Simply Actors.

    I also liked Diva Ah Hey and My Wife is 18 more than I should have but not due to her performance (maybe due to her cuteness).

    And thank you for starting this up, it is very enjoyable to read what you have written, like welcoming a friend back from a long trip.

  3. MW Says:

    I think Zhang Jingchu’s role was more supporting than leading too. Although she was the female lead, her role was more supporting. I agree KIDNAP was too mediocre for a leading actress to win. How come Karena didn’t get a nod anyways? (Karena needs better roles)

    Is it just me or are lot of nominees “miscategorized” or is it the nominee pool is just thin? I still can’t get over junkie Louis Koo as Supporting Actor! Is the HK Cinema industry THAT bad that they can’t find another supporting male over Louis Koo as junkie?

  4. RC Says:

    Eliza,

    I think that pic is of Monie Tung not Zhang Jingchu.

    I’m enjoying these posts too.

    RC

  5. glenn Says:

    I think Charlene deserves to win some award for those Adidas photos I linked to on my blog. She is still ridiculously cute.

    That said, I’m amazed she got nominated; Simply Actors was okay, and she was the best thing in it, but Best Actress for that? She was, as Eliza notes, so much better in stuff like Just One Look or Funeral March.

    I didn’t see Kidnap but I’m sure I’m not missing any earthshaking performance. Teresa Mo is my favorite of these 5 as well.

  6. dreamsun Says:

    I like Zhang Jingchu’s performance in Protege, though i concur that her role is more of a Supporting Actress category instead. I had the pleasure of “discovering” her in the movie Peacock (Kong Que, 2005) and have been following her career since. She has also demonstrated her acting range in The Road (Fang Xiang Zhi Lu, 2006) but Jade Warrior (Jadetosuri 2006) is one which I think would be best forgotten. Hope her move into Hollywood commercial movies following Zhang Ziyi’s footstep isn’t one which will cause her to stumble.

    I found Kidnap (Bang Jia, 2007) to be a mediocre movie with lots of plot holes and was surprised that Rene Liu was even nominated by HKFA.

    Charlene Choi’s turn as a mainland chinese girl is a big improvement over her usual cutesy teenage girl’s roles in many of her earlier movies. I have been living in Taipei, HongKong, Shanghai & Beijing for 10 years and must say that her accent is spot-on accurate, a delight to listen to. Nevertheless, i still find it hard to shake-off her cute image and facial expressions, making her good for comedic roles but not serious dramatic performances.

    Mr Cinema (Lao Gang Zheng Chuan, 2007) didnt impact me as much as the other two HK-handover movies. Honestly, I have not met anyone this poor in HK, and my lack of exposure due to my relatively shorter stint of stay in HK prevented me from really understanding what this strata of society has gone through over the past few decades. Teresa Mo’s portrayal was good, her words in the misplaced letter brought a tear to my eye, but I feel that the best acting amongst the four lead cast really belongs to Karen Mok in the Supporting Actress category.

    Finally, way above all other nominees in the Best Actress performance this year is none other than Siqin Gaowa. She has aged gracefully since my last-viewing of her in Full Moon in New York (Ren Zai Niu Yue, 1990) She is unbeatable this year as the favorite to take this title, and deservedly so.

    My Top 5 Nominees for Best Actress 2008:

    5) Gigi Leung for Wonder Woman (Nv Ren Ben Shi, 2007)
    4) Teresa Mo
    3) Miriam Yeung for Hooked on You (Mei Dang Bian Huan Shi, 2007)
    2) Zhang Jingchu
    1) Siqin Gaowa

    If Lust, Caution (Se Jie, 2007) qualifies, i would have placed Tang Wei’s performance at No.2 position.

 
 
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