February is the month of looking back at the best films of the past year, as we catch up on all of the Oscar-nominated pictures to cast our own ballots, and of looking forward too, at the films which will define the new year in movies.
To mark the lead up to this year’s Academy Awards, Cinema Asian America offers a collection of classic Asian and Asian American films that have won, or been nominated for Hollywood’s biggest prize. Leading the way is Akira Kurosawa’s masterwork, “Ran,” an adaptation of King Lear set in 16th Century feudal Japan, which was nominated for four Oscars, and won for Best Costume Design. Also included are Roland Joffe’s “The Killing Fields” for which Cambodian actor Haing S. Ngor won Best Supporting Actor, Danny Boyle’s “Slumdog Millionaire” which swept the 2009 Oscars, and Deepa Mehta’s “Water” which was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film in 2006. In the short form category, included are Chris Tashima’s Oscar-winning film “Visas and Virtue,” a dramatic look at the “Japanese Schindler” Chiune Sugihara who helped thousands of Jews escape the Holocaust, and Ruby Yang’s “The Blood of Yingzhou District,” an urgent documentary about the effect of AIDS on orphans in China which won for Best Short Documentary.
Looking ahead, we also present a group of dynamic new titles that will be the talk of the year to come. Japanese director Hirokazu Koreeda’s new drama, “Like Father, Like Son” has won accolades world-wide, and explores one family’s upheaval when it is discovered their son was switched a birth, and not their biological offspring. Nadine Truong’s “Someone I Used To Know,” a 30-something, ensemble-cast drama uses the reunion of three best friends, and a long night of revelations to examine friendship and the passage of time. Byron Q’s coming-of-age gangster drama “Bang Bang” is a gritty, realistic portrayal of the fine balance between dreams of escape and a better life, and the safety of brothers.
• Bang Bang, Byron Q, USA
• Krrish 3, Rakesh Roshan, India
• Like Father, Like Son, Hirokazu Koreeda, Japan
• Saving General Yang, Ronny Yu, China
Oscar Wins and Noms
• The Blood of Yingzhou District, Ruby Yang, China/USA
• The Killing Fields, Roland Joffe, USA
• Ran, Akira Kurosawa, Japan
• Slumdog Millionaire, Danny Boyle, UK/India
• Visas and Virtue, Chris Tashima, USA
• Water, Deepa Mehta, Canada/India