It’s the time of the year! By September, the Film Academy of the Philippines will submit one movie to the Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts, and Sciences (AMPAS) that will be our bid to the Best Foreign Language Film category at the 89th Academy Awards. This will be our 28th participating year and we are yet to receive a nomination.
To qualify as an eligible submission, the Academy’s rule states that “The motion picture must be first released in the country submitting it no earlier than October 1, 2015, and no later than September 30, 2016, and be first publicly exhibited for at least seven consecutive days in a commercial motion picture theater for the profit of the producer and exhibitor.”
Currently nine countries have already announced their submissions with our likely winner, Germany’s Toni Erdmann, in the longlist already. So which film will be our best bet to advance forward? I’ve divided them in three different categories.
DISCLAIMER: It has to be cleared that this ISN’T the final shortlist from the Film Academy of the Philippines yet, and are just mere speculations and recommendations.
ANINO SA LIKOD NG BUWAN Director: Jun Lana
Screenplay: Jun Lana
Cast: LJ Reyes, Luis Alandy, Anthony Falcon
Philippine Release Date: July 20, 2016
Amidst conflict between the military and communists, three people are confronted with a difficult dilemma.
Jun Lana, no stranger from Oscar representative (he directed our 2012 submission Bwakaw), is in contention yet again for his latest effort which is a one-long two-hour take staged just like a play with only three characters interacting all throughout the movie. The film also has participated alongside many different international festivals both in Asia and Europe (though none in the Big 4 major film festivals). That said, the film is unanimously considered as one of the best from 2015 among local critics.
FELIX MANALO Director: Joel Lamangan
Screenplay: Bienvenido Santiago
Cast: Dennis Trillo, Bela Padilla, Gabby Concepcion
Philippine Release Date: October 7, 2015
Felix Ysagun Manalo is a sprawling historical epic that traces the origin of Iglesia Ni Cristo (The Church of Christ) which is established in the Philippines from its humble beginnings in 1914 through the present day.
Definitely one of the most divisive films of last year, Felix Manalo is epic in its landscape detailing one of the most important personalities among Iglesia ni Cristo’s history. This almost three-hour movie boasts so much of its lavish production design and staging, that it would tick all boxes in an “baity Oscar film” checklist. But beyond the grandeur is a straightforward storytelling, and one that was considered as “weak” and “safe” by most critics. That said, never underestimate the taste of the FAP to include this in the shortlist, as they’re one easily swayed by buzz regardless if those were organic or fabricated.
HELE SA HIWAGANG HAPIS Director: Lav Diaz
Screenplay: Lav Diaz
Cast: John Lloyd Cruz, Piolo Pascual, Susan Africa
Philippine Release Date: March 26, 2016
In the midst of revolution, a young poet and the man that ruined his life travel through the jungle in search of safety. At the same time, a grieving widow encounters mystical beings on a mountain while searching for the body of her beloved revolutionary.
Winner of the Alfred Bauer Prize at the Berlin Film Festival earlier this year (with jury president Meryl Streep awarding them), there’s no doubt that this is one of the two most-buzzed films we have in world cinema for this year. Imagine if we submitted this and have Oscar winner Meryl Streep and Oscar nominee Clive Owen campaign this right? But let’s not get ahead of ourselves as that’s a bit of a reaching. The thing with Hele is that we have already attempted to submit a Diaz film back in 2014 via Norte which is half the running time of this one and arguably his most universal effort thus far, and yet the Academy didn’t give in to it.
HONOR THY FATHER Director: Erik Matti
Screenplay: Erik Matti, Michiko Yamamoto
Cast: John Lloyd Cruz, Meryll Soriano, Tirso Cruz III
Philippine Release Date: December 25, 2015
A family is caught in a financial ruin after being involved in a ponzi scheme.
With an Erik Matti film in contention yet again, it reminds me of probably the biggest miss we had not submitting On the Job back in 2013. What made that more infuriating was the committee’s response that they don’t want to submit a film that shows a negative image of the Philippines. Yeah, right. Anyway, Matti is back again this time with the MMFF entry Honor Thy Father which made its premiere a year ago at the Toronto International Film Festival. Honor‘s best shot is that I can see the film appealing to the Western crowd with its theme and execution. That said, the film feels bit of an after thought by now, but with every controversy that the film has encountered, it just ended up soaring higher. Maybe, FAP atones to Erik Matti this time around?
IGNACIO DE LOYOLA Director: Paolo Dy, Cathy Azanza
Screenplay: Paolo Dy
Cast: Andreas Munoz, Javier Godino, Julio Perillan
Philippine Release Date: July 27, 2016
In 16th Century Spain, a soldier born of nobility gives his life of luxury to become a pilgrim devoted to God and his people.
Watch out Felix Manalo, there’s another religious biography in contention. Kidding aside, I can already imagine the FAP members creaming themselves over this one. For one, the casting of a foreign star in lead role will make them think it can add extra buzz to our own entry (this isn’t an Oscar rule after all. Lots of foreign actors starred in films from other countries which ended up as submissions. Case in point: French star Emmanuelle Riva in Austria’s Amour, Mexican actor Gael Garcia Bernal in Chilean film No, and even our own Angeli Bayani in Sinagpore’s Ilo-ilo). Plus, the religious theme somehow gives it more importance and a “good image” per se in representing the country (which apparently is an unwritten rule; see: On the Job again in 2013).
MA’ROSA Director: Brillante Mendoza
Screenplay: Troy Espiritu
Cast: Jaclyn Jose, Andi Eigenmann, Julio Diaz, Felix Roco, Jomari Angeles
Philippine Release Date: July 6, 2016
A poor family scrambles to find the money to pay off the corrupt policemen that have arrested the parents for dealing drugs.
Sure it was one of the least buzzed entries at Cannes main competition this year, until the great Jaclyn Jose earned the coveted Best Actress win and the rest, as they say, is history. Ma’Rosa is currently participating now at Toronto International Film Festival and I think it has the most buzz for any Filipino film competing for this year when it comes to foreign exposure. And at this stage, after all his trips to Cannes and Berlin and Venice and TIFF, isn’t Brillante Mendoza overdue for a Filipino Oscar submission? I lobbied that Taklub was our best shot last year, but they can make up for it with Ma’Rosa this year.
PAMILYA ORDINARYO Director: Eduardo Roy Jr.
Screenplay: Eduardo Roy Jr.
Cast: Ronwaldo Martin, Hasmine Killip, Sue Prado, Moira Lang
Philippine Release Date: August 31, 2016
Jane and Aries are teenage parents. They make a living out of stealing on the streets… until fate hits back at them.
After sweeping major awards at the recently concluded Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival including wins for Best Picture, Best Director for Eduardo Roy Jr., and Best Actress for newcomer Hasmine Killip, this runaway favorite is getting an instant cinema release in time for the Oscar cutoff. Add the fact that it’s also heading to Venice under the “Venice Days” sidebar (think of it as their answer to Cannes’ Directors Fortnight section), and it’s on the right track. This also has the makings to appeal to an international audience,
POTENTIAL SHORTLIST MENTIONS:
Don’t be surprised to see any of these films in this group make it in the final shortlist.
DUKOT Director: Paul Soriano
Screenplay: Froilan Medina
Cast: Enrique Gil, Ricky Davao, Christopher de Leon, Shaina Magdayao
Philippine Release Date: July 13, 2016
With Paul Soriano helming it (one of the producers of our 2013 Oscar submission “Transit“), this suspense drama about an abducted son also brags of an ensemble composed of some of the biggest names in the country both newbies and veterans.
ANG HAPIS AT HIMAGSIK NI HERMANO PULI Director: Gil Portes
Screenplay: Enrique Ramos
Cast: Aljur Abrenica, Louise delos Reyes, Enzo Pineda, Menggie Cobarrubias
Philippine Release Date: September 21, 2016
In the tradition of our love for hero films — some of which are deserved (last year’s Heneral Luna), some of which are good (Supremo), and some which are just flat out terrible (El Presidente), let’s say hello to Hermano Puli.
MAGTANGGOL Director: Sigfreid Barros-Sanchez
Screenplay: Henrie Enaje, Henry dela Cruz, Sigfreid Barros Sanchez
Cast: Dina Bonnevie, Ejay Falcon, Joonee Gamboa, Tom Rodriguez
Philippine Release Date: June 8, 2016
Only because of its serious topical theme (with them even doing special screening this National Heroes Day), I can see this political themed film making a (not so) surprise appearance in the shortlist. Think of how Kamkam by Joel Lamangan made it to the Top 4 in 2014.
A SECOND CHANCE Director: Cathy Garcia-Molina
Screenplay: Henrie Enaje, Henry dela Cruz, Sigreid Barros Sanchez
Cast: Carmi Raymundo, Vanesssa Valdez, Cathy Garcia-Molina
Philippine Release Date: November 25, 2015
We have that one slot, almost always reserved to those box office hits that tackle more serious topics than the usual. Not to say that they aren’t deserving since most of them actually are, but they happen to end up in the shortlist. Examples include 2008’s Caregiver, or 2010’s Sa’yo Lamang, maybe even last year’s That Thing Called Tadhana can somewhat be considered.
TANDEM Director: King Palisoc
Screenplay: Zig Marasigan
Cast: JM de Guzman, Nico Antonio, Rochelle Pangilinan
Philippine Release Date: February 17, 2016
As for starters, the producers of this film were also the producers of our previous submission Heneral Luna, so if anything, they;d sure be willing to campaign. This film got good to great reviews with solid performances from the leads, but if you compare it to other entries, it’s a tad low-key (in terms of buzz and not of film quality). And if it’s already low-key here, can you imagine how it would fare to the foreign market?
WALANG FOREVER Director: Dan Villegas
Screenplay: Paul Sta. Ana
Cast: Jennylyn Mercado, Jericho Rosales, Lorna Tolentino
Philippine Release Date: December 25, 2015
For an MMFF film, this one got solid reviews and even swept the Gabi ng Parangal of last year. This is also from the Dan Villegas and Jennylyn Mercado team-up, which reminds us that English Only Please, was part of the short-list that year.
So these movies have appeared in different indie film festivals but haven’t fulfilled the seven-day commercial distribution yet. This does not mean that these movies are bad obviously they’re not because there have been buzz for some of them to be submitted. Well, they still have the whole month of September to book a screening if they plan to be considered eligible. Or they can wait for next year instead. For what it’s worth, some films who made it in the shortlist the previous years aren’t from the same year where they participated in festivals. As for examples, the 2008 Cinemalaya film Boses only got a commercial screening in 2012, and thus was included in the shortlist for the 2012 Oscars. Same goes for Ian Lorenos’ Alagwa which gave Jericho Rosales his Urian in 2012 but was in the 2014 shortlist.
For this year, I think we can trim it down to three films which would all be decent submissions by any means. For starters, there’s the John Lloyd starrer Hele sa Hiwagang Hapis with its Berlin victory, but is simply hindered by the 8-hr running time. Not that Lav Diaz needs Oscars anyway to validate his impressive work; it’s just that sometimes the Academy just doesn’t fit into a certain director’s style. Then there’s the other John Lloyd starrer Honor Thy Father, which I can see a scenario with it connecting to a foreign audience, if they’re gonna push it hard and run aggressive with it. That’s a big if, by the way. In the end, maybe Jaclyn Jose’s Cannes win can also be Brillante Mendoza’s first RP submission to the Academy. It’s doing its assignment by participating in TIFF and its Cannes win, but us submitting a Mendoza film for once won’t do us any harm, regardless of the end result if it gets in or not.
Share your thoughts with me! You can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl
The Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino (MPP) are bound to reward their picks among the best of 2015 local cinema with the 39th Gawad Urian Awards this Tuesday, June 21. But who are poised to take home those huge silver trophies? It’s a strange year in predicting, but here’s where I’ll bet my money on.
“Anino sa Likod ng Buwan”
“ARI: My Life with a King”
“Da Dog Show”
“Honor Thy Father”
Unlike previous years when there’s one clear frontrunner to win the top award (2003’s Magnifico, 2005’s Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros, 2009’s Kinatay, and 2013’s Norte), this year, the race is a bit up in the air. As for starters, there’s the now iconic pop culture effect of Heneral Luna, which dominated critically and commercially. Then there’s also Taklub, which was Brillante Mendoza’s comeback to Cannes (albeit in the Un Certain Regard competition) since 2009. Anino sa Likod ng Buwan and Imbisibol both live up to the name of their previous stage adaptations. And Honor Thy Father got pretty much the same enthusiasm that Matti’s (also Best Picture nominated) On the Job received. The three other films nominated are much low-key in nature, but I can also foresee a case of the Manunuri going with the cultural importance of the arts in “Ari.” I guess I’ll go with Jun Lana’s “Anino sa Likod ng Buwan“, as I find its one shot narrative up right the Manunuri’s alley. Besides, Lana is someone I see who’s finally breaking through with the Urian considering they also went gaga with Barber’s Tales last year (despite ending with a 0-11 shutout).
PREDICTION: “Anino sa Likod ng Buwan”
ALTERNATE: “Heneral Luna“
BEST DIRECTOR: Carlo Enciso Catu, “ARI: My Life with a King”
Mario Cornejo, “Apocalypse Child”
Zig Madamba Dulay, “Bambanti”
Lawrence Fajardo, “Imbisibol”
Ralston Jover, “Da Dog Show”
Jun Lana, “Anino sa Likod ng Buwan”
Erik Matti, “Honor Thy Father”
Brilliante Mendoza, “Taklub”
Kidlat Tahimik, “Balikbayan #1: Memories of Overdevelopment”
Jerrold Tarog, “Heneral Luna”
I have this previous theory (which I shared last year) that when someone is up for the Best Director award yet the film isn’t nominated for Best Picture, that totally eliminates the director’s chances to win at all. After all, no director has won in this category without the corresponding film being nominated for the top award too. That said, if there’s one filmmaker who can defy that statistic, it’s Kidlat Tahimik. After all, the narrative is there already. I’m sure the Urian won’t shy rewarding him especially now that the opportunity is there. Then again, I noted two years ago that in a field of 12 Best Director nominees, the only ones with no Urian are Erik Matti and Hannah Espia and while I predicted the former, it’s the latter who won. Thus, I’ll reserve my alternate this time for Matti to nab his first Urian here.
PREDICTION: Kidlat Tahimik, “Balikbayan #1: Memories of Overdevelopment”
ALTERNATE: Erik Matti, “Honor Thy Father”
Luis Alandy, “Anino sa Likod ng Buwan”
John Arcilla, “Heneral Luna”
John Lloyd Cruz, “Honor Thy Father”
John Lloyd Cruz, “A Second Chance”
Ricky Davao, “Dayang Asu”
Anthony Falcon, “Anino sa Likod ng Buwan”
Francisco Guinto, “ARI: My Life with a King”
Sid Lucero, “Apocalypse Child”
Junjun Quintana, “Water Lemon”
Jericho Rosales, “Walang Forever”
Dennis Trillo, “Felix Manalo”
Lou Veloso, “Da Dog Show”
While it’s a strong year for lead actors with everyone getting in meaty roles here and there, this is one category where the Manunuri channels their inner Oprah and hands out nominations like Santa Claus. From this bunch, chances are we won’t see a repeat winner so that leaves out Ricky Davao, Sid Lucero, Junjun Quintana, Jericho Rosales, and Lou Veloso already. In the event that it will be though, bank on John Arcilla’s prominent pornstache to win this. That said, the double nominations signify strong support for our perennial frontrunner John Lloyd Cruz to finally receive his first Urian. Only once in the history of Urian did an actor compete against herself that lost (FYI it’s Nora Aunor x2 (both ‘Merika and Bilangin ang Bituin sa Langit) losing to Vilma Santos in Sister Stella L.). So unless Manunuri trolls out in the end, it’s John Lloyd’s to lose.
PREDICTION: John Lloyd Cruz, “Honor Thy Father”
ALTERNATE: John Arcilla, “Heneral Luna”
Nora Aunor, “Taklub”
Angeli Bayani, “Iisa”
Mercedes Cabral, “Da Dog Show”
Alessandra de Rossi, “Bambanti”
Anicka Dolonius, “Apocalypse Child”
Jennylyn Mercado, “Walang Forever”
Ces Quesada, “Imbisibol”
LJ Reyes, “Anino sa Likod ng Buwan”
Last year, it was easy to dismiss Nora Aunor’s chances simply because she’s already winning the Natatanging Gawad Urian and if there’s one thing that Urian loves, it’s to spread the wealth. This year however is a more difficult one to predict. That said, Taklub is minor Aunor, and I don’t think this is the performance that will tie her with rival Vilma Santos for the 8th Best Actress win. Both Angeli Bayani and Alessandra de Rossi won Urian the past few years, so I don’t see the Manunuri rushing to give them second wins (they have no problem giving out nominations but a win is a different talk). Quesada, Dolonius and Cabral are all borderline supporting characters in terms of screentime or story, though Ces Quesada, a veteran with no Urian win yet can easily overcome this narrative as compared to the two others. Jennylyn Mercado, a previous Urian nominee for Blue Moon back in 2005, is nominated for #WalangForever, seems more of a statement on the Manunuri’s part that they also acknowledge romance/commercial format stories. I mean if Angelica Panganiban couldn’t win with Tadhana last year, I doubt they’re touching this. That leaves me with LJ Reyes, and while in any other year, I wouldn’t have made this prediction, maybe the “boldness” of the role would be enough for her to take home the trophy.
PREDICTION: LJ Reyes, “Anino sa Likod ng Buwan”
ALTERNATE: Ces Quesada, “Imbisibol”
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR:
RK Bagatsing, “Apocalypse Child”
Bernardo Bernardo, “Imbisibol”
Tirso Cruz III, “Honor Thy Father”
JM De Guzman, “Imbisibol”
Julio Diaz, “Taklub”
Alion Ibanez, “Da Dog Show”
Micko Laurente, “Bambanti”
Lou Veloso, “Taklub”
Opposite of the Oscars where they reward the older vets in Supporting, the Urian likes them young and fresh with up and coming actors winning here going as far as 1986 champ Aga Muhlach up to last year’s Martin del Rosario. The only one who fits the bill is 4x nominee JM de Guzman for Imbisibol. But then, I think this is one year where they can skip that as I think it’s a battle of the three vets: 1980 Best Actor Bernardo Bernardo, 1992 Best Supporting Actor Tirso Cruz III, and still Urian-less Julio Diaz. I have a hunch they’re going with Tirso’s over the top religious zealot in here to give him his overdue second career Urian.
PREDICTION: Tirso Cruz III, “Honor Thy Father”
ALTERNATE: Julio Diaz, “Taklub”
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS:
Liza Dino, “Toto”
Mylene Dizon, “Heneral Luna”
Rio Locsin, “Iisa”
Anna Abad Santos, “Apocalypse Child”
Tessie Tomas, “Water Lemon”
Cecil Yumol, “ARI: My Life with a King”
Gwen Zamora “Apocalypse Child”
I can’t remember the last time they rewarded a supporting performance from a full comedy movie, so I feel that Liza Dino’s nominations is the reward itself already. Same goes for Urian winner Mylene Dizon. I personally prefer Ana Abad Santos over Gwen Zamora in Apocalypse Child, but a part of me thinks that it’s a film they showered with acting nominations but will give no wins (which in Urian history isn’t always a bad thing. There’s a long list of films that reap 4-5 acting nominations that will lose all of its acting bids. Case in point, last year’s Best Picture Mula sa Kung Ano Ang Noon, or Barber’s Tales.). I’ll call this a race between two underrated veterans: Rio Locsin vs. Tessie Tomas, and I’ll give the edge to the latter just because she have more Urian losses, so maybe the Manunuri might make up for it.
PREDICTION: Tessie Tomas, “Water Lemon”
ALTERNATE: Rio Locsin, “Iisa”
Now as for the rest of the nominations:
Prediction: Herlyn Gail Alegre and John Paul Bedia, “Imbisibol“
Alternate: Michicko Yamamoto, “Honor Thy Father“
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Prediction: Harley Alcasid, “Bukod Kang Pinagpala” Alternate: Ben Payumo, “Water Lemon”
Better late than never, but here are the stars who shined the most last 2015.
I’ve started doing this in 2011 in the vein of Entertainment Weekly’s “Entertainer of the Year” tag to those career-defining years of some pop culture/entertainment personalities. In previous years, the title has been given to Anne Curtis (2011), Nora Aunor (2012), Joel Torre (2013), and Antoinette Jadaone (2014). This year, these 13 (well technically, 18) personalities made the cut.
13. PEPE DIOKNO
Six years since his breakthrough with “Engkwentro”, Diokno had a great 2015 finally releasing his much-awaited follow up “Above the Clouds” which has been a steady presence in local and international fests. He quickly released another film, the Q Cinema entry “Kapatiran”, and has invaded the boob tube with the first Cinema One series “Single/Single” starring Matteo Guidicelli and Shaina Magdayaowhich was met with great reviews.
12. EL GAMMA PENUMBRA
While luck wasn’t on their side when they joined the third season of Pilipinas Got Talent back in 2011, little did this shadow play group know that they’re bound for bigger things as they brought pride to the county after winning Asia’s Got Talent in 2015 beating representatives from other countries such as Mongolia, China, Thailand, and Japan.
11. JANINE GUTIERREZ
Born with a showbiz connection can be a double-edged sword, but not for Janine Gutierrez whose 2015 can be summed up by being one of the new magazine muses as proven by the multiple covers she had this year. Plus, it’s also the year of her film breakthrough starring alongside her mother in the MMFF entry “Buy Now, Die Later.”
10. JUAN MIGUEL SEVERO
Spoken word poetry has never been as prominent into the mainstream pop culture since Juan Miguel Severo’s viral video of “Ang Huling Tulang Isusulat Ko Para Sa’yo” appeared on our Facebook timelines last year. This has led to multiple TV appearances and interviews and recurring roles on primetime soap “On the Wings of Love” and an MMFF movie via “Walang Forever.”
09. COLEEN GARCIA
Once seen as wallflower with a pretty face, 2015 was probably the career best year for Coleen Garcia, as she breaks out of her own shell appearing on multiple magazines this year, her first primetime lead role as part of the “Pasion de Amor” ensemble, and her first movie lead role “Ex with Benefits” that has made more than a hundred million in the box office.
08. JENNYLYN MERCADO
Jennylyn ended 2014 on a good note winning her first MMFF Best Actress for “English Only Please.” But that was just the beginning of a great year ahead as she also topped the FHM 100 Sexiest list this year as the “Philippines’ Finest.” But what’s more amazing with the trajectory of Jennylyn’s career is how she can shift from sexy to sweet in a snap, as 2015 was the year when she cemented herself as the queen of romance movies this year with her hits like The Prenup and Walang Forever (where she bagged her second consecutive Best Actress MMFF trophy).
07. TONI GONZAGA and PAUL SORIANO
It was the celebrity wedding of the year if there ever was one. It was in February when they announced to the world about their engagement, and four months later, she was already walking down the aisle. Their love story has transpired a lot of “awws” and has become the ideal relationship to a lot of hopeless romantics out there. And their personal careers have been excellent as well with Paul directing the critically acclaimed “Kid Kulafu” while Toni earned another box office hit with “You’re My Boss.”
People say they’re following the footsteps of the iconic triumvirate of Tito, Vic, and Joey as the next landmarks in comedy. The group of Jose Manalo, Wally Bayola, and Paolo Ballesteros has equally brought energy to the whole Kalyeserye phenomenon and thus should be equally credited for the success of such.
05. JOHN ARCILLA
After starring in thankless supporting roles in mainstream offerings, John Arcilla showed that his biggest break will come at a later stage of his career. Sure he had his share of lead roles in different independent films such as “Sa North Diversion Road” and “Halaw”, but his turn as the underrated Filipino hero Antonio Luna in the biggest surprise hit of the year “Heneral Luna” has definitely made him a household name. Not only that, but his performance in it is now one of the most iconic ones in recent local movie history. Expect his name in the local awards derby this year.
04. JOHN LLOYD CRUZ
Proving that he’s a talent that’s for keeps, John Lloyd Cruz owned the last two months of the year in local entertainment. In November, the follow up to the pop culture staple “One More Chance” premiered after seven years of waiting, and it has now claimed the record of the highest grossing movie of all time with more than half a billion earnings. Then in December, he showed another side of himself as an actor in a career best performance in the MMFF entry “Honor Thy Father”, where he also shared producing credits. It’s clear that John Lloyd is in control of the trajectory of his career and a talent like his is really admirable.
03. PIA ALONZO WURTZBACH
After three tries, not only did Pia Wurtzbach nab the Miss Universe Philippines title, but she went all the way and ended the 42-year drought of the Philippines in conquering the Universe. While this was done in the most dramatic and telenovela-like fashion, one can’t discredit the amount of effort and hardwork Pia did in order to give glory to the country. Probably the most beautiful thing during the three hour telecast was her genuine reaction after the mishap when it was revealed that she was the actual winner showing the world – the universe, rather – that she is confidently beautiful inside and out.
02. JAMES REID and NADINE LUSTRE
What could have been a one-hit wonder ended up as one of the biggest loveteams of 2015. James Reid and Nadine Lustre, collectively labeled as Jadine, have moved into the big leagues and have probably made all the other pairings be wary of their presence. 2015 was the premiere of their first dramatic movie “Para sa Hopeless Romantic”, but more than that, it was their debut to primetime teleserye that sealed the deal for them via “On the Wings of Love” which is probably considered as the most refreshing show on primetime in years. We’re certain that we still haven’t seen the best of Jadine yet, and that bigger things await them this 2016.
01. ALDEN RICHARDS and MAINE MENDOZA
Some of the world’s best discoveries happened via accident. One can probably add “AlDub” to the list, as the accidental pairing of Alden Richards and Maine “Yaya Dub” Mendoza has taken 2015 by storm. Whether it’s the hundreds of millions of tweets with the hashtag #ALDUB in it, the endless amount of commercials, billboards, and advertisements with their faces in it, their daily kilig shenanigans on Kalyeserye, and their first MMFF movie that’s likely to be this edition’s topgrosser, no word has defined 2015 local pop culture scene than Aldub.
Last week, the Metro Manila Development Authority headed by Francis Tolentino has announced the entries for this year’s Metro Manila Film Festival. And as expected, MMFF staples such as Vice Ganda, Robin Padilla, Vic Sotto, Kris Aquino, and Aiai delas Alas all have entries this year.
Once the festival home of films such as Himala, Burlesk Queen, Karnal, Itanong Mo Sa Buwan, Magic Temple, and Dekada ’70, there has been a paradigm shift in terms of the criteria on how films are chosen the past decade. Commercial appeal has been the primary agenda now and box office as a main factor on which entries will make it.
And while this has elicited a lot of criticisms, particularly the idea of prioritizing box office over “quality” films, the MMFF has still treated us with some notable films quality films over the years. This coming year, entries from Gil Portes, Antoinette Jadaone, Jose Javier Reyes, and Dan Villegas have been chosen while those of Erik Matti’s and Jeffrey Jeturian were in the waitlist categories.
Before I reveal my picks of the ten best MMFF films of the last ten years (New Wave section excluded), here are five that came close from being included:
“Ulam” from Shake, Rattle, and Roll XV (director: Jerrold Tarog, 2014) – Ulam made good use of every minute we’ve seen on screen to show the horrors and tension of a marital relationship.
“Katas ng Saudi” (director: Jose Javier Reyes, 2007) – Probably the most memorable OFW movies in local cinema depict those of a mother leaving their children behind. Here’s from a father’s perspective of coming home and realizing it isn’t what he expected.
“Pagpag” (director: Frasco Mortiz, 2013) – It’s horror by the numbers, but it tackles such a Filipino ritual one can’t help but to give in to its scares.
“Manila Kingpin: The Asiong Salonga Story” (director: Daryl dela Cruz, 2011) – It got its reputation as the one that started the action comeback, but its behind the scenes director mishap got in the way for the film to move from being good to being great.
“One More Try” (director: Ruel Bayani, 2012) – Rip-off or not, the film brags of solid performances from its four leads, particularly that of its lead actress Angel Locsin.
And as for the top 10:
10. “Parola” from Shake, Rattle, and Roll 13 (director: Jerrold Tarog, 2011) – Parola is the perfect throwback to the early heydays of the Shake, Rattle, and Roll franchise, only with better production and technical achievements. Its scares mixes that of the old and the new, giving the type of scares that the audience will definitely bite.
09. “English Only Please” (director: Dan Villegas, 2014) – It’s easy to dismiss English Only Please from the get go, it’s not from the manufactured Star Cinema factory of kilig, not does it star a tandem that has a solid following. But it has proven that it doesn’t need any of those. It gives the same kilig and “feels” without the need to fall trap to the usual rom-com clichés.
08. “Blue Moon” (director: Joel Lamangan, 2005) – During the last few years when Regal Films was still obsessed with this big star-studded ensembles in family dramas comes Lamangan directing a Palanca-winning screenplay about three generation of family members with the patriarch searching for his one true love. The film is mostly fluff hiding in between the big war backdrop, but its attempt is earnest one can’t help but fall in love with it.
07. “Lihim ng San Joaquin” (director: Richard Somes, 2005) – When Shake, Rattle, and Roll made a comeback in the mid-Aughts, a lot expected to feel the throwback of the early 90s horror franchise. Instead, we got that ridiculous “Poso” episode and an uneven “Aquarium” one. Then comes “Lihim ng San Joaquin”, about a young , newlywed couple transferring to a rural town. This one will keep you on the edge of your seat with its silence.
06. “Kubot: The Aswang Chronicles” (director: Erik Matti, 2014) – Sure, the MMFF has been a commercial venue for the whole family to enjoy, but with Kubot, the follow up to 2012’s Tiktik, Erik Matti proved that a sequel isn’t an alibi to come up with a lackluster addition to a franchise (which most MMFF franchises are guilty of doing). While it doesn’t necessarily have to beat its predecessor, it doesn’t have to be a downgrade as well.
05. “Boy Golden: Shoot to Kill” (director: Chito Rono, 2013) – The best thing about Boy Golden is that it doesn’t want to prove anything. It doesn’t take itself seriously and just wants to have fun. And boy was it a fun movie-watching experience mixing camp and action we haven’t seen in a long time.
04. “Punerarya” from Shake, Rattle and Roll 12 (director: Jerrold Tarog, 2010) – Hands down, this is one of the best episodes ever in the whole SRR franchise. Jerrold Tarog’s first output stars Carla Abellana as a private tutor to two kids from the neighbor’s funeral parlor. And as secrets were slowly revealed, the tension just escalates further. This one doesn’t get old and is a must watch.
03. “RPG Metanoia” (director: Luis Suarez, 2010) – Not for lack of trying, the MMFF has welcomed local animation in the festival. Twice, even (the first one was 2008’s “Dayo sa Mundo ng Elemento”). RPG can brag about being the first Pinoy 3D animated film, but more than that achievement, its dedication in tackling a theme highlighting the rich Philippine culture is admirable.
02. “Kasal, Kasali, Kasalo” (director: Jose Javier Reyes, 2006) – On the outside, Kasal’s biggest achievement is how it managed to be a crowd-pleasing film, yet one that critics will positively respond as well. Digging deeper, it’s really not difficult to fall in love with this film. It touches the topic of a traditional Pinoy family whose value for marriage and relationship is as valuable to the whole family, maybe even more so, than to the actual couple. Obviously, the great ensemble elevated the already strong material further.
01. “Thy Womb” (director: Brillante Mendoza, 2012) – It’s silly when you think about it, that the best film of the festival of the last decade, was just a replacement choice of that year. Shot in the farthest village of Tawi-Tawi, “Thy Womb” wasn’t just the story of a midwife attempt to provide her husband a child, but it also opened us to a culture we aren’t particularly familiar with. I believe this is one of the films that will go down as the best in the history of the festival. Plus, it gave us Nora Aunor’s comeback performance.
So as much as we rant and complain about the MMFF every year, chances are there are one or two entries that will really be worth of our money. This year has the potential to deliver as well.
You can tweet me if you want to talk about this list: @nikowl
Welcome to the latter part of the year! It’s July now, and while it’s more known as the official start of the rainy season (here in the Philippines at least), it is compensated by the country’s favorite poll. July is the official “100 Sexiest Women” month by FHM, as we await on who will be unveiled as the country’s finest, as voted by the fans.
This poll which started way back in 2000 has definitely gone a long way already. In its first few years, it’s filled with Hollywood actresses dominating the list, as compared to now where they are struggling to even make the list. Among those who made the list are Oscar winners Halle Berry (topping in 2003), Nicole Kidman, Charlize Theron, Gwyneth Paltrow, Reese Witherspoon, Kate Winslet, Penelope Cruz, Hilary Swank, and Natalie Portman.
News personalities like Rhea Santos, Vicky Morales, Cheri Mercado, and Pia Guanio also had their share of moments in this annual list, and even the likes of Kris Aquino (in 2001), Sharon Cuneta (in 2002), and Ruffa Gutierrez (both in 2000 and 2002) have been included here. Singers Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Mandy Moore, Natalie Imbruglia and Andrea Corr have been mainstays during the early years as well.
With the release of the 14th issue this year, 1400 spots have been gone to 300+ women who have, in one way or another, made mark as part of FHM Philippines history. Let’s first give a spotlight to sixteen impressive mainstays who frequent this list for a long time already.
THE TEN TIMER CLUB
Six women have been in the list for a decade already. Starstruck first batch alumnae Katrina Halili, Jennylyn Mercado, and Cristine Reyes all have stayed in the chart since their debut way back in 2004. Between the three of them, they all share three #1 titles, 20 Top 10 spots, and eight covers. Pretty impressive eh? More impressive than that though are hosts Toni Gonzaga and Iya Villania who maintained in the charts as well in the same time frame as the three previous women with no FHM covers to boot. Among the prominent female group Viva Hot Babes, it is the petite Maui Taylor who had the most number of appearances with ten starting from 2002 up until this year, only skipping 2008 and 2012.
THE MIGHTY ELEVEN
Next up are five women with something in common: all have been in the FHM Sexiest Women poll for eleven years now. Let’s start with the only FHM cover girl in the bunch, Angel Locsin. With four covers under her belt, Angel has already made her own FHM record. She’s the only ever in the history of the poll who have been in the Top 10 ever since her debut in 2004 (when she debuted at #10) up until her eleventh year this 2013 where in she was third placer. Really impressive eh? Alongside her though in this group are ABS-CBN stars Bea Alonzo, KC Concepcion, and Kristine Hermosa (none of them who graced the covers… yet) and Asia’s Songbird Regine Velasquez who has four Top 10 placements (with her #8 spot in 2010 as her most recent).
A DOZEN VISITS
Now next in line are those who have been in the charts for a dozen times already. What’s more impressive about these four women is that they all achieved this feat in simultaneous years. Let’s divide them in pairs and start with two past FHM cover girls. Maureen Larrazabal is one of those who can proudly say that she’s one of the original FHM Sexiest Women gals, as she started her stint in 2000. Two covers and 11 more appearances, and she ended her reign in 2011. On the other hand, original FHM darling Diana Zubiri is still going strong in the polls with her appearance #12 in this year’s list. She might not have coveted the top spot, but she was 2003’s Philippines’ Finest just behind global champ Halle Berry. As for the other two women in the list, let’s just say that they definitely belong to FHM’s best frustrations, as both didn’t give the magazine a chance to headline them, yet that didn’t stop both Anne Curtis and Heart Evangelista to slay these charts since their debut in 2002 up until now. With fifteen women down, do you have any idea on who tops our list?
THE ULTIMATE CHAMP
And the longest staying woman in this list is none other than Rufa Mae Quinto. Peachy has made the list every single time since its beginning way back in 2000. With three covers under her belt, what’s shocking about this is that she wasn’t able to reach the Top 10 in all fourteen years, as her closest was #11 back in 2004. Since she showed no signs of stopping, maybe she can finally enter the coveted group in the succeeding years.
Now I know you want to know who made this year’s list, so as per tradition, here’s the top 20 in pictures (and in code names):
As for the rest of the poll, I’d let you find out that by yourself by grabbing a copy of the FHM July issue with Alodia Gosiengfiao on the magazine cover and Roxee B (that’s Roxanne Barcelo for you, folks) on the Top 100 cover. Just to give you a clue, you’ll be seeing Jessy Mendiola, Andi Eigenmann, and Jodi Sta. Maria in the list but not the names of Sarah Geronimo, Iwa Moto, and Jasmine Curtis Smith in it.
Hi everyone! I have been terribly busy the last few weeks, but I’ll try my best to catch up on local cinema for this year. So instead of doing full reviews for each, I’ll try to tackle them in small dosages. Most of these I’ve seen during their release but doesn’t have the time to write a full review, some I caught up on, and some via other sources *wink*. Anyway, here are six more films from 2013’s collection:
MENOR DE EDAD
Director: Joel Lamangan
Cast: Meg Imperial, Ara Mina, Wendell Ramos, Jaycee Parker, Chynna Ortaleza
2013’s kick off local movie is Joel Lamangan’s socio-political drama Menor de Edad which aims to provide an honest and raw look of the slum life by focusing on a story of juvenile teenagers living in the squatters area. While the intention was there, viewers might get lost as Lamangan goes back and forth to documentary approach and the melodramatic aspects of the film. Scenes were mostly contrived and there were too many plots running that it’s hard for anything to stand out; in the end, all seemed half baked versions of what they really wanted to achieve. The cast was okay, though I can’t help but see them relying on scenery chewing approach of acting which made the over the top story… more over the top.
Director: Peque Gallaga
Cast: Richard Gutierrez, Solenn Heusaff, Sarah Labhati, Jay Manalo, Al Tantay
Fatal Attraction meets Unfaithful is the theme of Peque Gallaga’s 2013 drama which centers the character of fireman Ram in a choice between two babes: Trina, the one he likes, and Sophia, the one he’s concerned about. It also did not help that Trina is reserved while Sophia can be the answer to his family’s financial obligations. I appreciate the fact that this could have been a good character study of the main characters (particularly Ram and to a certain extent, Sophia), but it wasn’t as interesting as what I expected it to be. I saw some of the classic Peque Gallaga shots in terms of the angles and framing in his shots which maintained interest to say the least, but his actors let him down. It seemed as if it was a battle of “Who can act the worst?” among the three lead stars. It’s a case of seeing the film go one step forward, then two steps behind, and by the time the movie ended, we’re there at the same place where it started.
Star Cinema’s Valentine’s offering this year is composed of one of 2012’s television’s favorite couples: Coco Martin and Julia Montes via A Moment in Time. This story of “strangers getting to know each other though bounded by fate before they even met each other” is a hit or miss for me. For one, Coco Martin and Julia Montes really has a chemistry that was visible in the movie, but on the other hand, I don’t think I already have recovered from their age differences. More than that though, once the back stories of both their characters were revealed (which happened during the earlier part of the film), it’s pretty predictable already. Sure Coco Martin made the whole audience kilig, I still don’t think he has found the suitable mainstream project for him. Plus points though since Amsterdam was really good to look at, and for Cherie Gil’s straight faced delivery of the line “Mukha ba akong kontrabida sa isang pelikula?“
THE BRIDE AND THE LOVER
Director: Joel Lamangan
Cast: Paulo Avelino, Lovi Poe, Jennylyn Mercado, Joem Bascon, Hayden Kho
In the never ending tradition of “two women fighting over one man” films that still shows no signs of stopping (everyone… sigh) comes another from the vault. This time, about best friends who both took the characters of the bride and the lover. That’s also probably the most this movie can offer in terms of standing out among all these kerida films, and while that’s not saying too much, I appreciate that they even tried doing it. The movie is, indeed, entertaining with its shift to comedic and dramatic tones though it also gets tiring by the time we’ve reached the latter part of the film. There were also too many unnecessary characters (the best friend/bodyguard storyline is one that can be eliminated already), but the climax part is enjoyable and almost made up for the rest of the clunks. Jennylyn Mercado stood out the most in this trio, and I hope she gets movie roles because she really has the chops to be even better.
If there’s one thing that I like about Bromance is the fact that Wenn Deramas was mostly in a clean slate in this: no Vice Ganda, no Tanging Ina jokes, no DJ Durano to be seen. This gives a fresh new energy that makes most of the film work. Zanjoe Marudo still continues to challenge himself as an actor, and his last few movie projects continue to shape him as an all around actor. I like how committed he was in it, and it shows in his performance. Cristine Reyes also seems to have a knack at comedy, and I think this type of role suits her better than let’s say El Presidente. The cameos in the film were a lot, but most worked for me (especially the one who played the doctor). This movie made me laugh more than what I expected, so if this is what we can expect from the next few Deramas outings, then he might have mastered the type of comedy for his audience after all? But then again, it’s hard to speak that early.
JUANA C. THE MOVIE
Director: Jade Castro
Cast: Mae Paner, John James Uy, Jelson Bay, Angelina Kanapi, Annicka Dolonius, Mads Nicolas
From the same group that gave us Zombadings, Juana C. is a political satire that gives us a funny and honest glimpse of the wicked world of politics. It’s pretty obvious that the movie has a lot to offer, and while some of the subplots didn’t work for me, the main message of the film stood out in the end. It’s a pretty enjoyable ride that sometimes tend to go overboard, but manages to stay still and in the end, ultimately reached its destination. Juana Changge (Mae Paner) is an engaging lead character that serves as the glue that holds all of them together, but the whole ensemble is top notch, giving you endless riots and bundles of laughter. You can see the commitment that the people gave this film, so it’s easy to forgive the noticeable flaws in it.
Whew that’s a handful. There are still some films left to be seen from the first half of the year before we go overboard with the Cine Filipino and Cinemalaya contenders this month and the next, so it’s good to finally put this out already. 🙂
There are lots of good things that happen every July, but this will always be one of the more prominent ones for July is the month when FHM Philippines release their 100 Sexiest Women List. While the title has transformed into a battle of idols for the last few years, there is still something interesting about it that keeps you glued in on which vixen owns the throne as the World’s Sexiest. Anyway, Jackie Rice (for the second time) covers the issue this month, but this is the first time that the same woman is the cover of the magazine and the 100 Sexiest booklet. Before revealing the complete list, here are some observations I had while skimming the list:
1. THE CURIOUS CASE OF THE RISE OF THE BUTLEG
That’s Jackie Rice’s sweat themed cover, and while it was apparent on the top part, the same can’t be said there below. I mean take a look:
I mean look closerrrrrrr…
O ayan nag-mukhang mga butlig at allergies yung tubig sa singit ni Jackie. Tsk tsk.
2. THE 99 CURSE
Sa FHM 100 list, kabugan ang labanan at talagng pinagtatalunan kung mamemaintain ang #1 status. However, the same can’t be said sa #99 na mukhang dinomina na ni Jem Milton sa kanyang 2nd consecutive year sa #99. Aba naman fans, boto pa ng mas masipag next year!
3. HAVING TOO MUCH ISN’T ALWAYS GOOD
Take the case of FHM Beauty #85 na si Aze Sasaki:
Isa pa ulit na closer inspection:
Hindi na ka-aya ayang tignan ang mala-bukol na tumubo sa likuran ni Aze. Goes to show na hindi lahat ng sobra ay maganda.
4. MAKE SHAINA YOUR VICE
Yung totoo. Paano nakalusot si Vice Ganda dito? Ay shet Shaina pala. Buti may nakalagay sa baba. Pati kasi yung caption na Hot Property, mas naga-apply kay Vice. Sorry Shaina. Wag mo ko sampalin nung parang sa teleserye mo.
5. IT ONLY COUNTS IF YOU SEE A NIPPLE
Sabi nga sa Mean Girls, it only counts if you see the nipple. Gone are the days sa 100 Sexiest Women booklet na may nagtatopless. As a matter of fact, dalawa lang ang nagtopless at nagbuyangyang ng kanilang buong pantaas ng walang takip sa buong list. Eto sila:
6. THE MINI STOP SPONSORSHIP AWARD IS GIVEN TO…
IWA MOTO para sa kanyang free endorsements sa mga sumusunod na produkto: C2, Gardenia, Tropicana, Minute Pulp, at Wilkins. Salamat Iwa sa iyong mabuting kalooban. 🙂
7. THE JUSTIFY YOUR PLACEMENT AWARD
Alam kong marami ang aalma na ang taas ni KC, pero subjective naman ang taste kaya hahayaan ko na. Pero naman. Ito na ang pinakasexy na photo na nahanap niyo sa kanya? Uhm. Okaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyy.
8. THE OBLIGATORY ANGEL LOCSIN PHOTO
Siya talaga ang number 1 para sa akin. Don’t worry Angel, naniniwala ako na ikaw ang makakaunang 3 first place finish sa history ng listahan na ito. Bago pa yan, sobrang proud ko kasi 10 years ka nang nasa Top 10 at walang mintis dahil nasa Top 10 ka sa lahat ng taon na yun meaning isang dekada mo nang dino-dominate ang listahang ito. Yehey! For the record ito ang history ni Angel dito: