Even as the mercury drops in Taipei, speculation is heating up ahead of today’s 50th Golden Horse Awards, where Hong Kong director Wong Kar-wai’s (王家衛) martial arts film The Grandmaster (一代宗師) leads the pack with 11 nods, but faces strong competition.
The Grandmaster is nominated for all major categories — best feature film, best director, and best leading actor and actress — making it one of the strongest contenders for this year’s awards.
Loosely based on the life of Chinese martial artist Ip Man (葉問), the film has been praised for its beautiful cinematography and unforgettable fight scenes.
The film employs many of Wong’s trademark effects such as slow-motion and evocative music, creating a visual feast that promises to take martial arts films to a new level, a feat previously accomplished by Ang Lee’s (李安) celebrated 2000 film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (臥虎藏龍), critics said.
Film critics predict that The Grandmaster will grab the award for best leading actress for a performance by China’s Zhang Ziyi (章子怡), sweep up a number of technical awards and has a good shot at best feature film and best director.
The Grandmaster’s strongest contenders are Chinese director Jia Zhangke’s (賈樟柯) A Touch of Sin (天注定) and Taiwan-based Malaysian director Tsai Ming-liang’s (蔡明亮) Stray Dogs (郊遊).
A Touch of Sin centers on four working-class characters in different parts of China who are forced to use violence to resist injustice and exploitation, while Stray Dogs details a father struggling to survive with his son and daughter on the streets of Taipei.
A Touch of Sin won Jia the best screenplay award at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, while Stray Dogs has earned the Grand Jury Prize at this year’s Venice Film Festival.
Also in the running for best feature film are Ilo Ilo, a family drama by Singaporean director Anthony Chen, and Drug War (毒戰), a police thriller by Hong Kong director Johnnie To (杜琪峰). Wong, Jia, Tsai and To are joined in the best director category by Taiwan’s Chung Mong-hong (鍾孟宏) for his thriller Soul (失魂).
The award for best leading actor will also be tightly contested, with Hong Kong’s Tony Leung Chiu Wai (梁朝偉), Nick Cheung (張家輝) and Tony Leung Ka Fai (梁家輝) and Taiwan’s Jimmy Wang (王羽) and Lee Kang-sheng (李康生) vying for the title.
While Zhang is tipped as favorite the leading actress category, her biggest challenge is likely to come from Hong Kong’s Sammi Cheng (鄭秀文), who plays a police officer in Blind Detective (盲探).
Hong Kong’s Cherry Ngan (顏卓靈) and Taiwan’s Kwai Lun-mei (桂綸鎂) and Shu Qi (舒淇) are also vying for the award.