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Philippines’ 87th Oscar Submission: Norte, Hangganan ng Kasaysayan   1 comment

Norte After days of waiting, it’s the time of the year again when the country chooses its representative for the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. Let it be clear that of course, Oscar is not the be-all and end-all of anything great when it comes to filmmaking, but somehow among casual moviegoers, Oscar is synonymous to anything that represents great quality. And its prestige is still ever so present that one can’t help but be interested in the whole process. After all, having an “Oscar winning film” or “Oscar winning country” is a great bonus to a film’s achievement.

Just hours ago the Film Academy of the Philippines, represented by Leo Martinez, confirmed that the Philippines submitted Lav Diaz’ 250 minute film Norte, Hangganan ng Kasaysayan” for next year’s awards consideration. Norte, a take on Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s “Crime and Punishment”, showed the contrast of a man (Sid Lucero) committing a crime but was spared from it and an innocent one (Archie Alemania) paying for the former’s sins. In line with that, life goes on for the latter’s wife (Angeli Bayani) as she deals with the aftermath of the incident.

In my annual analysis of possible contenders almost a month ago, I’ve specified that it boils down to two contenders: Jun Lana’s “Barber’s Tales” and Lav Diaz’ “Norte“. Both make sense as submissions, but I’m not holding my breath for any of the two considering how the panel assigned to submit has made more mediocre choices than not since its inception in 2007, so seeing them finally taking the right path slowly but surely the past few years is indeed commendable. Besides, what is there to lose if we experiment with a Lav Diaz submission this year? It’s not as if we’ve been nominated before. This can actually serve as a trial of some sort to see what kind of films that we offer can match Oscar’s taste. But anyway, enough about my personal feelings. Let’s go straight to the point. How will Norte fare in the competition this year? And can it *actually* be nominated in the end?

As for starters, this is a year when there is no solid frontrunner for the category Oscar-wise. Sure we have lot of solid contenders to battle out (Brazil’s “The Way He Looks”, Belgium’s “Two Days, One Night”, Canada’s “Mommy“, Mauritania’s “Timbuktu“, Poland’s “Ida“, Turkery’s “Winter Sleep“, and even unofficial but slightly obvious Argnetina’s “Wild Tales“), but none of those are as sure things as “A Separation” was three years ago or even “Amour” the year after. In an open year like this, there are bigger possibilities for an out of the field choice which definitely helps Norte‘s chances.

Second, distribution counts. Among 60+ announced contenders by far, only 17 have US distributors already. Yep, including Norte. Sure, The Cinema Guild might not be as big as Sony Picture Classics, Magnolia Pictures, Roadside Attractions, or even Sundance Selects as far as distribution companies are concerned, and that other likely contenders might even pick up theirs as the season progressed, but having the benefit of a distributor already is a big thing in the country’s history of submitting in this category.

Norte” also boasts of having a wide festival coverage. Even before it participated as part of the Un Certain Regard section of the Cannes Film Festival last year, the film has participated as part of the Hong Kong International Film Festival. Post-Cannes, with unanimous reviews to boot, the film traveled from Locarno to Toronto, New York to Busan, and Brisbane to Glasglow among a plethora of other festivals in different parts of the world. I mean how’s that for exposure right? And did I already mention its great reviews? Because if anything, at least there’s a universal consensus on the quality of the film both here and abroad.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, really. There’s a lot that the film still needs to overcome and it’s not a smoothly paved road en route to Oscar recognition. The film’s length is still running at 250 minutes. That might be too shallow of a reason to actually consider, but remember that the voting to end up in the shortlist is still by public vote from the foreign language film department. It’s not an easy pill to swallow for them to stay 250 minutes to watch a film and convince them to sit around and stay that long or even prioritize watching it (even if one can argue that it’s their job to do so). 200 minutes I’d say they can still tolerate, but anything longer than that might possibly turn them off leading to either not finishing the film or choosing not to even watch the film at all. That is a crucial factor to end up as part of the top six in the first stage of the voting which aims to be included in the shortlist of nine. That said, an executive committee is in charge to review the remaining films left off the top six and add three more films that they’ll base on merit. This is the part where I think Norte might benefit a lot. While it is not being publicly announced which among the shortlist of nine came from public vote and which were inserted the last minute, this change of ruling has led to inclusion of offbeat, quirky, or non-traditional/Academy friendly films such as Belgium’s “Bullhead” to the shortlist in 2011 or something like Greece’s “Dogtooth” to the final five a year before. This part of the voting can really be crucial in helping Norte (and other films that aren’t as buzzed as the early contenders I’ve mentioned in the fourth paragraph) to be a part of the shortlist.

Two years ago, I correctly predicted that a shortlist mention for Bwakaw is a long shot and that last yearTransit isn’t going anywhere. Now if you’re gonna force me to say an actual answer now, I’d say it’s better if we take things slowly. First step of getting the actual nomination is knowing the rules of the game by submitting a competitive film which we have already done. Honestly speaking, I guess a Top 9 shortlist mention isn’t really out of reach this time. After all, this is the best and most competitive submission we had since “Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros” in 2005. It seems like stars are aligning good enough for the Philippines this year, at least even for a shortlist mention. But I’m quite optimistic with this one. In the end though, Oscar nomination or not, this is already a win-win situation for the country. If you ask me a few years ago if we’ll ever see the day that a Lav Diaz film will be considered as an Oscar contender, I will without a doubt say that it’s impossible. But times are changing, and so far, they’re for the good. Nevertheless, I raise my imaginary glass of toast and say cheers to everyone involved in Norte and the FAP for actually getting this year right. We’ll surely be rooting for you all the way!

You can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

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37th Gawad Urian Winner Predictions   2 comments

The glory days of local Philippine awards night have been over, and right now, there are only two remaining interesting citation giving bodies: the Young Critics Circle and the Manunuri (and my own Titties awards of course lol). That said, the YCC already gave their citation last April while the Manunuri will be handling out their awards tomorrow. And in line with that, I’ll be going on a limb and try to predict who’ll end up with those huge silver trophies tomorrow in all 12 categories.

best pic

BEST PICTURE
Badil
Dukit
Ekstra
Ang Kuwento ni Mabuti
Norte Hangganan ng Kasaysayan

On the Job
Porno
Riddles of my Homecoming
Transit

With how huge Norte was last year, I think it will be an easy win for this Cannes Un Certain regard entry to receive the top prize for tomorrow’s ceremony. Besides, it’s not as if Lav Diaz has been over-rewarded here before (his films only won twice, for 2001’s Batang Westside and 2004’s Ebolusyon ng Isang Pamilyang Pilipino). To add more confidence in its side, it’s also the top nominated film for this year, and you’d notice the trend that it is indeed one of their most loved films this year. That said though, if they want to spread the wealth, I can see the other top nomination receiver, Dukit, getting the most coveted award instead.

Prediction: Norte, Hangganan ng Kasaysayan
Alternate: Dukit

best directing

BEST DIRECTING
Whammy Alcazaren, “Islands
Adolf Alix Jr.. “Porno
Mes de Guzman, “Ang Kuwento ni Mabuti”
Lav Diaz, “Norte Hangganan ng Kasaysayan
Hannah Espia, “Transit
Peque Gallaga, Lore Reyes, “Sonata
Jeffrey Jeturian, “Ekstra
Armando Lao, “Dukit
Arnel Mardoquio, “Riddles of My Homecoming
Erik Matti, “On the Job
Chito Rono, “Badil
Alvin Yapan, “Mga Anino ng Kahapon

Choosing in a field of twelve is already a difficult task to do, though I guess I have to remove those previous winners already: Adolf Alix, Mes de Guzman, Lav Diaz, Peque Gallaga, Jeffrey Jeturian, Arnel Mardoquio, Chito Rono, and Alvin Yapan. Then you also have Urian winners Armando Lao and Whammy Alcazaren (despite in other categories). That leaves us with veteran director Erik Matti and Hannah Espia. I have a hunch that Espia has more chance in Editing for Transit (and I’m predicting her there), so I guess I’ll be going with Erik Matti. I mean he’s overdue for an Urian right? Plus, On the Job is a very flashy directorial work that I can see the Manunuri going for. If not him though, I expect a second win for Lav Diaz because really, it’s quite a shame that he has only won here only once yet.

Prediction: Erik Matti, “On the Job
Alternate: Lav Diaz, “Norte Hangganan ng Kasaysayan

best actor

BEST ACTOR
Mark Gil, “Philippino Story
Jhong Hilario, “Badil
Mimi Juareza, “Quick Change
Sid Lucero, “Norte Hangganan ng Kasaysayan
Alex Medina, “Babagwa
Ping Medina, “Transit
Joel Torre, “On the Job

Speaking of repeat winners, this surprisingly short line up (remember the 15 nominee group last year?) I think is between two past champs: 2001 champ for Batang Westside Joel Torre and 2010 champ for Muli, Sid Lucero. Lucero has the longer role and one that is very demanding as well that I won’t be surprised if the voters fall in love with such. That said, Torre’s 2013 is some sort of a career best comeback that let him lead not only one, but two brave performances of the last year (the other was for Borgy Torres’ Kabisera). Having that advantage would make me predict him for the win. Outside of those two though, I guess I’d go with Alex Medina as the other feasible winner. The Urian has a history of proclaiming the hot young handsome actor in this category (see Christopher de Leon in 1978, Philip Salvador in 1979, Richard Gomez in 1991, Aga Muhlach in 1995, Jason Abalos in 2007, Sid Lucero in 2010, Paulo Avelino in 2011, and Jericho Rosales last year) and Alex Medina fits that bill. But I’m still going with Joel Torre on this one.

Prediction: Joel Torre, “On the Job
Alternate: Sid Lucero, “Norte Hangganan ng Kasaysayan

best actress

BEST ACTRESS
Nora Aunor, “Ang Kuwento ni Mabuti
Angeli Bayani, “Norte Hangganan ng Kasaysayan
Rustica Carpio, “Ano Ang Kulay ng Mga Nakalimutang Pangarap?”
Eugene Domingo, “Instant Mommy
Cherie Gil, “Sonata
Agot Isidro, “Mga Anino ng Kahapon
Teri Malvar, “Ang Huling Chacha ni Anita
Vilma Santos, “Ekstra
Lorna Tolentino, “Burgos
Vivian Velez, “Bendor

Definitely the most talked about and interesting category of the night (I won’t even be surprised if this one is handed out after Best Picture because it’s the Philippines after all), but this one revives the Nora-Vilma rivalry in a big way. Currently though, Vilma is all time Urian champ here with 8 wins, but Nora is closely behind her with 7 wins. If Vilma wins, she’d inch farther with 9, but if Nora wins, they’d both be tied at 8. Do you think they’ll just give them a tie and call it a day? I think there’s a probable chance of that happening. After all, it will please everyone and the mileage will really be huge. And despite the two being nominated alongside with each other during the 80s and early 90s, this possibility is unprecedented yet. In the event that happens, everyone leaves happy. However, they can also do a cop out and instead reward the eight other women here. I think the biggest possible spoiler is Angeli  Bayani whose 2013 is definitely a career best for her. Making waves at almost all film festivals here, an Urian Best Actress is a nice cap off to her 2013 achievement. And that’s who I’m predicting to win here. If not her, then I expect Vilma to receive her ninth win here. Nora just had her spotlight last year, I’m sure they won’t hesitate shifting the momentum to Vilma this year.

Prediction: Angeli Bayani, “Norte Hangganan ng Kasaysayan
Alternate: Vilma Santos, “Ekstra

best supp actor

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Art Acuna, “Kabisera
Archie Alemania, “Norte Hangganan ng Kasaysayan
Carlo Aquino, “Porno
John Arcilla, “Metro Manila
Victor Basa, “Lauriana
Joey Marquez, “On the Job
Cesar Montano, “Ang Alamat ni China Doll”
Bor Ocampo, “Dukit
Junjun Quintana, “A Philippino Story
Yul Servo, “Porno

As for the supporting actors, unless Art Acuna pulls off a threepeat (which I doubt happens but I won’t be surprised if he actually does), I think it will be a battle of the two overdue Porno guys (that sounded wrong no? lol). Both Urian-less Yul Servo and Carlo Aquino are the ones I’m confident about in this category. Carlo Aquino is now on his sixth bid for a win while Yul Servo is on his fifth. You can really just toss a coin with this one, but I guess I’m going with the latter – no reasons why.

Prediction: Yul Servo, “Porno
Alternate: Carlo Aquino, “Porno

best supp actress

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Angel Aquino, “Porno
Angel Aquino, “Ang Huling Chacha ni Anita
Jasmine Curtis, “Transit
Ruby Ruiz, “Ekstra
Michelle Smith, “Angustia”
Raquel Villavicencio, “Dukit

Call it the “Johnny Delgado Rule”. When it comes to Urian, compete against yourself in one category and you’d end up winning the trophy. It was in 1980 when Johnny Delgado competed against himself for for Brutal and Kakabakaba Ka Ba? and he ended up with a Supporting Actor win for the latter. Then in 1986, Jaclyn Jose was nominated twice for Best Actress: Private Show and Takaw Tukso, also winning for the latter. Fast forward to last year in this same category where Alessandra de Rossi was nominated for both Mater Dolorosa and Santa Nina, and she finally clinched her first Urian for the former. As a matter of fact, this statistic is so strong that it only faltered once (Nora Aunor who was nominated for both Bulaklak sa City Jail and ‘Merika only to lose to a threepeat Vilma Santos win for Sister Stella L.) Why am I writing about this though? It’s because I think this rule will apply again to twice nominated Angel Aquino.  I had her both as a prediction and alternate and I’ll just wait which one sticks. Like de Rossi last year, Aquino hasn’t won an Urian yet, and I’m choosing Porno by a hair since they seem to like the overall film better and that it’s her flashier and more “physically demanding” work.

Prediction: Angel Aquino, “Porno
Alternate: Angel Aquino, “Ang Huling Chacha ni Anita

Now as for the rest of the categories…

SCREENPLAY:
Prediction:
Lav Diaz, Rody Vera,Norte Hangganan ng Kasaysayan
Alternate:
Michicko Yamamoto, Erik Matti,On the Job

PRODUCTION DESIGN:
Prediction: Adolf Alix, “Porno
Alternate: Richard Somes, “On the Job

CINEMATOGRAPHY:
Prediction: Rene Manda, “Norte Hangganan ng Kasaysayan
Alternate: Albert Banzon, “Porno

MUSIC:
Prediction: Gauss Obenza, “Riddles of my Homecoming
Alternate: Perry Dizon, “Norte Hangganan ng Kasaysayan

EDITING:
Prediction: Benjamin Tolentino, Hannah Espia, “Transit
Alternate: Jay Halili, “On the Job

SOUND:
Prediction: Armando Lao, “Dukit
Alternate: Arnel Barbarona, “Riddles of My Homecoming

DOCUMENTARY:
Prediction:
 Jazz in Love (Baby Ruth Villarama)
Alternate: Nanay Mameng (Adjani Arumpac)

SHORT FILM
Prediction: 
Onang (JE Tiglao)
Alternate: May Dinadala (Giancarlo Abrahan)

Let’s wait how these predictions will turn out tomorrow when the Manunuri holds the 37th Gawad Urian Awards to be hosted by Piolo Pascual and Bianca Gonzalez. The special will also be shown on Cinema One multiple times this month.

You can also follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

Tit For Tat Local Film Awards 2013   6 comments

May used to be the awards season here in the Philippines, but that tradition has been long since gone. But not for me. This is when I reveal my top picks for the best in Philippine cinema. 2013 is a very difficult one, not because there are only few films to choose from, but because of the many selections the year gave us. Granted I still missed some few films here and there, I’ll share to you my picks in 20 different categories (including my three top choices per film component.) And without further ado, here’s my 2013 Tit for Tat Local Film Awards:

first feature

GOLD: BLUE BUSTAMANTE (Miko Livelo)
SILVER: TRANSIT (Hannah Espia)
BRONZE: PUROK 7 (Carlo Obispo)

ensemble

GOLD: the cast of Iskalawags
SILVER: the cast of Norte
BRONZE: the cast of Transit

visual effects

GOLD: KUNG FU DIVAS
SILVER: DEBOSYON
BRONZE: PAGPAG

sound

GOLD: RIDDLES OF MY HOMECOMING (Arnel Barbarona)
SILVER: ON THE JOB (Corrine de San Jose, Mikko Quizon)
BRONZE: NORTE (Corrine de San Jose)

song

GOLD: INDAK (Sana Dati)
SILVER: SCARED TO DEATH (Tuhog)
BRONZE: SEA OF TREES (Shift)

score

GOLD: DEBOSYON (Teresa Barrozo)
SILVER: SANA DATI (Jerrold Tarog)
BRONZE: RIDDLES OF MY HOMECOMING (Gauss Obenza)

hair and make up

GOLD: Quick Change
SILVER: Kung Fu Divas
BRONZE: Boy Golden

editing

GOLD: ON THE JOB (Jay Halili)
SILVER: BADIL (Carlo Francisco Manatad)
BRONZE: TRANSIT (Hannah Espia, Benjamin Tolentino)

costume design

GOLD: Boy Golden
SILVER: Kung Fu Divas
BRONZE: Ekstra

cinematography

GOLD: NORTE (Lauro Rene Manda)
SILVER: ON THE JOB (Ricardo Buhay III)
BRONZE: DEBOSYON (Dexter dela Pena)

art direction

GOLD: ON THE JOB (Richard Somes)
SILVER: BLUE BUSTAMANTE (Marielle Hizon)
BRONZE: PAGPAG (Luis Custodio IV)

breakthrough actor

GOLD: MIMI JUAREZA, Quick Change
SILVER: JUNJUN QUINTANA, Philippino Story
BRONZE: VINCE TANADA, Otso

breakthrough actress

GOLD: KRYSTLE VALENTINO, Purok 7
SILVER: JASMINE CURTIS, Transit
BRONZE: YENG CONSTANTINO, Shift

screenplay

GOLD: NORTE (Lav Diaz, Rody Vera)
SILVER: SANA DATI (Jerrold Tarog)
BRONZE: BABAGWA (Jason Paul Laxamana)

supporting actress

GOLD: ANGELI BAYANI, Norte
SILVER: BING PIMENTEL, Kabisera
BRONZE: IRMA ADLAWAN, Transit

supporting actor

GOLD: DICK ISRAEL, Badil
SILVER: JOEY MARQUEZ, On the Job
BRONZE: JOEY PARAS, Babagwa

lead actress

GOLD: KRYSTLE VALENTINO, Purok 7
SILVER: LOVI POE, Sana Dati
BRONZE: VILMA SANTOS, Ekstra

lead actor

GOLD: SID LUCERO, Norte
SILVER: JHONG HILARIO, Badil
BRONZE: JOEL TORRE, Kabisera

directing

GOLD: LAV DIAZ, Norte
SILVER: CHITO RONO, Badil
BRONZE: ERIK MATTI, On the Job

picture

GOLD: Norte, Hangganan ng Kasaysayan
SILVER: Badil
BRONZE: Sana Dati

Whew, there you have it! 🙂 As a recap, here’s the complete list of my 2013 winners:

BEST PICTURE: Norte, Hangganan ng Kasaysayan
BEST DIRECTOR: Lav Diaz, Norte Hangganan ng Kasaysayan
BEST ACTOR: Sid Lucero, Norte Hangganan ng Kasaysayan
BEST ACTRESS: Krystle Valentino, Purok 7
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Dick Israel, Badil
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Angeli Bayani, Norte Hangganan ng Kasaysayan
BEST SCREENPLAY: Lav Diaz, Rody Vera, Norte Hangganan ng Kasaysayan
BEST BREAKTHROUGH ACTOR: Mimi Juareza, Quick Change
BEST BREAKTHROUGH ACTRESS: Krystle Valentino, Purok 7
BEST ART DIRECTION: Richard Somes, On the Job
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: Lauro Rene Manda, Norte, Hangganan ng Kasaysayan
BEST COSTUME DESIGN: Boy Golden
BEST EDITING: Jay Halili, On the Job
BEST HAIR AND MAKE UP: Quick Change
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE: Teresa Barrozo, Debosyon
BEST SONG: “Indak” from Sana Dati
BEST SOUND: Arnel Barbarona, Riddles of my Homecoming
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS: Kung Fu Divas
BEST ENSEMBLE: the cast of Iskalawags
BEST FIRST FEATURE:Blue Bustamante” by Miko Livelo

Until next year! 🙂

Also, you can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

2012: The Year in Lead Actors   1 comment

2012 lead actors

Hey everyone! We’re still continuing the yearend lists over here at Tit for Tat. Aside from that, we’re also doing the recap of the movie performances in local cinema the past year. The past two days, we gave the focus to the supporting actresses and supporting actors. It’s time to move now to the leading categories. For this day, we’d give the spotlight to the men and tackle the Best Actor category. Like what I said, these are possible choices from all the award giving bodies this year from mainstream to indie and those that can cross-over in between. Let’s begin!

LEADERS OF THE PACK

Probably the strongest contender in this category for this year is acting legend Eddie Garcia as he adds another memorable turn for his role as the old gay man living with his dog in Bwakaw. His competition this year might skew to much younger actors though as there have been lots of good awards-bait performances this year such as the likes of Dingdong Dantes‘ MMFF winning performance in One More Try, Coco Martin‘s indie comeback as the father who found the remains of his daughter in Santa Nina, Jericho Rosales as the single parent whose son gone missing in Alagwa, and JM de Guzman as the mussel diver in the title role Intoy Syokoy ng Kalye Marino.

MIDDLE TIER

As for the other lead roles in contention, award giving bodies might also throw a bone to Arnold Reyes as the loyal driver who was caught in the middle in his Congressman employer in the Tribeca hit Graeland, awards staple John Lloyd Cruz might get some nominations as well for his performance opposite Bea Alonzo in The Mistress or for his movie with Angel Locsin, Unofficially Yours.  Scene stealing Archie Alemania should hear his name be read especially at the Comedy Best Actor of the Golden Screen Awards for his role in Cinema One Original entry Slumber Party. And in a surprising turn of events, we’d have a battle of two heroes this year in the Best Actor category: Alfred Vargas as Andres Bonifacio in Richard Somes’ Supremo and ER Ejercito as Emilio Aguinaldo in the MMFF entry El Presidente.

Cinemalaya movies also produced a lot of worthy Best Actor turns such as the winning performance of Kristoffer King in Oros, Pen Medina in Kamera Obskura, Dominic Roco‘s Gibson in Ang Nawawala, and Thai actor playing lone soldier Ananda Everingham in Kalayaan. Casting issues (from Cinemalaya) aside, Allan Paule‘s fantastic turn in Emerson Reyes’s MNL 143 can possibly reap nominations as well.

THE REST OF THE RACE

Other lead actor contenders that might are still in the race are Dennis Trillo in the title role of Ang Katiwala, Cinema One Originals Best Actor winner Alex Medina in Palitan, newbie actor Gerry Adeva as the title role in Mamay Umeng, Allen Dizon in Joel Lamangan’s drama Migrante, and the most intelligent and uptight of the three gay friends Markki Stroem in Slumber Party. Among mainstream movies, one can also consider Derek Ramsey in A Secret Affair, Aga Muhlach in Of All The Things, Piolo Pascual in Every Breath U Take, Enchong Dee in The Strangers, and Vice Ganda in either This Guy’s in Love With U Mare or Sisterakas.

That’s it. Last part of the acting spotlight tomorrow with everybody’s favorite category: Best Actress!

As always, you can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl