My Predictions of This Year’s Major Oscar Winners

February 10, 2012

Recently I’ve been watching the nominated films for the 84th Academy Awards, and this has somewhat become my yearly ritual before the awards show. My longtime friend and TV host/producer Juliette Zhuo at LA-based Chinese-language channel LA 18 thought I should share my viewing experience with her loyal Chinese-speaking audiences. As a result, several days ago I sit down with her and we casually talked about the nominated films and the upcoming awarding ceremony. I made my predictions at the show, and these predictions are not going to be 100% accurate (who could predict that Avatar would lose to The Hurt Locker last year?), but they will certainly make the watching of the upcoming ceremony (to be aired live on ABC on Feb. 26 at 4pm, Pacific Time) more interesting:

Interview with Los Angeles-based Chinese TV Channel "LA 18" on the 84th Academy Awards, hosted by producer Juliette Zhuo.

1. BEST PICTURE: Well, it will be a battle between The Artist and Hugo, with The Help as a potential black horse. It is also a competition between France and the United States, a rivalry between “the Jazz Singer” and Georges Melies. But who can resist the sweet and nostalgic temptation of the black and white/almost silent cine-darling? So, the winner will be: THE ARTIST.

2. BEST DIRECTOR: Once again, it is a battle between France and the United States, or Michel Hazanavicius vs. Martin Scorsese. The battle is going to be fierce, because theoretically Michel has the upper hand, but he is largely unknown in Hollywood and Academy members are certainly more friendly toward familiar faces. So, the winner will be: Martin Scorsese (by the way, I only liked Hugo’s first five minutes).

3. BEST ACTOR: It is unanimous, and there will be no complication. The winner will be: Jean Dujardin for his role in The Artist. George Clooney is a remote shot.

4. BEST ACTRESS: This will be a heavyweight showdown between veteran performer Meryl Streep and newcomer Viola Davis, the latter playing a 1960s’ black housemaid in America’s South and having just won the Best Actress trophy at SAG.   But I was just mesmerized by Meryl Streep’s Margret Thatcher. So, I vote for Meryl Streep.

5. BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: It is a single pick, Christopher Plummer, who plays a soon-to-die gay father coming to terms with his sexual orientation at an old age in Beginners.

6. BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: No ambiguity, and the winner will be Octavia Spencer. If you’ve seen The Help, she is the most memorable character in the entire cast, sometimes funny and mischievous, but always humanly dignified and proud to be a black woman despite the circumstances.

7. BEST SCREENPLAY: Everyone loves Woody Allen, the camera-shy veteran whose films always delight the audience with their WA-style flavor mixed with irony, humor, futile desire, and urban intelligentsia. There is also something special about his sensibility of the city and city life. I hope he will someday make a film about Shanghai. So, the winner will be Woody Allen’s MIDNIGHT IN PARIS.

8. BEST FOREIGN-LANGUAGE FILM: Many of my friends were disappointed with the news that Zhang Yimou’s The Flowers of War failed to secure a nomination. My view is that Zhang’s film is a decent one, but definitely not a great one. Even if Flowers was nominated, it would for sure lose to Iranian feature A Separation.  I just loved the film’s everyday-ness, as if you were not watching a film, but was immersed in the daily life of the Iranian people. The eyes of the two young girls, one in her adolescence, the other a pre-school sweetie, are unforgettable. So, the winner will be A SEPARATION from Iran.


My Take on Chinese Cinema’s Quest for International Success

February 1, 2012

Chinese cinema’s lackluster performance in the overseas commercial film market in recent years is a recurring topic for many people in China. This topic is rekindled after the news about Zhang Yimou’s Nanjing Massacre epic The Flowers of War, the most expensive Chinese film ever made, failing to secure an Oscar nomination arrived. A few days ago, I had an interview with the China Radio International (CRI), the state-run overseas broadcaster of China, and the following CRI program introduction and link will lead you to my take on this subject:

China's Yearly Box Office Revenue Since 2003.

“China is now one of the world’s largest film markets as well as producers. But when it comes to Chinese films’ international influence, one may draw a general conclusion that it pails in comparison with that of Bollywood, let alone Hollywood.

“China’s latest big-budget blockbuster, the Flowers of War, portrayed in the settings of the 1937 Nanking Massacre and directed by Zhang Yimou, failed to secure nomination of the Oscar Awards even though the film receives high ratings among Chinese movie-goers.

“An Oscar trophy may not necessarily be a litmus test for Chinese film industry, but gaining a foothold in the international film industry will certainly be an injection in the Chinese cultural arm as it seeks to boost cultural competitiveness.

“So what does it take for Chinese films to win internationally? And what overseas experiences can China borrow to help the industry grow?

“Ni hao, you’re listening to  People In the Know, bringing you insights into the headline news in China and around the world, I’m Zheng Chenguang in Beijing. In this edition of the program, we are taking a look at the Chinese film industry.

“We talk to Sun Shaoyi, School of Film and TV Arts & Technology, Shanghai University and Richard Trombly, Independent Film Maker and Former Business Journalist.”

To listen to or download the interview, visit:
http://english.cri.cn/7146/2012/01/19/1942s677130.htm