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Friday, November 25, 2011

32nd Blue Dragon Film Awards

A little over two hours ago the proceedings for the 32nd 'Blue Dragon Awards' show wrapped up at the KBS Hall in Seoul.  Along with the 'Daejong (or Grand Bell) Film Awards', the 48th Edition of which was held last month, this is one of South Korea's most prestigious Film Awards ceremonies.  Unlike 'Daejong', the 'Blue Dragon Awards' has been privately funded since it was launched in 1963 by The Chosun Ilbo, a national newspaper.  It was discontinued in the 1970s but then revived by the Sports Chosun in 1990 and has occurred on a yearly basis since.

When I covered the 'Daejong' awards last month my analysis was somewhat impaired by the fact that I hadn't seen many of the main contenders.  Thankfully, in the time since, I have managed to catch up.  Out of the films that scored three or more nominations, I have only War of the Arrows and Silenced left to see, both of which I am looking forward to.

There was not a great deal of difference between the nominations for both events.  The Front Line led both with the same amount (12).  Silenced was the main difference as it scored 7 nominations, it received none at Daejong as it it was not eligible, having been released too late.  The Yellow Sea wound up with half the nominations it garnered at last month's event (5 vs. 9), and Hindsight was almost completely shut out (1 vs. 5).  Besides that, the main change was a slightly less even distribution outside of the top six or seven contenders.

This year, the most nominated films were (wins in parentheses):

The Front Line - 12 (2)
War of the Arrows - 8 (5)
Sunny - 8 (0)
Silenced - 7 (1)
The Unjust - 6 (3)
The Yellow Sea - 5 (1)
Blind - 4 (1)
Petty Romance - 4 (0)
Bleak Night - 3 (2)
Detective K - 2 (0)
Hello Ghost - 2 (0)
Late Autumn - 2 (0)
The Journals of Musan - 2 (0)

As I mentioned in last month's analysis, this year's roster of films duking it out for the major awards has been poorer than usual.  It has by no means been a bad year for Korean cinema as there have been numerous strong mid-level entries but, without a great many offerings from marquee names like Park Chan-wook, Bong Joon-ho, Kim Jee-woon, Im Sang-soo, or Lee Chang-dong, there have been relatively few breakout films that have made big impressions on critics.  In terms of audiences though 2011 looks to be the best year since the peak of 2006.  Both Sunny and War of the Arrows played long in theaters and attracted over 7 million admissions, well over what was expected of them.  Similarly, the controversial Silenced and the enjoyable but unambitious Detective K both nearly broke the 5 million admissions mark.  Punch, which came out too late to be considered for either of this year's awards looks set to cruise past that mark and may reach further milestones as it shows no signs of abating just yet at the Korean box office.

Jang Hoon's The Front Line came in as a heavy favorite, with 12 nominations and having already bagged the top prizes at the Daejong Awards and the Critics' Film Awards, as well being selected to represent Korea at the Oscars.  In the end it lost out in all of the major categories and only picked up two technical awards, for Best Art Design, which it wasn't even nominated for at 'Daejong', and for Best Cinematography, which it also won last month.  Personally I don't think it deserved that last award as I belive many films featured stronger cinematography this year, including some that weren't even nominated such as Late Blossom and Moby Dick.

The surprise big winner tonight, to my delight, was Ryoo Seung-wan's excellent The Unjust which deservedly took the awards for Best Film, Best Director, and Best Screenplay.  In the Best Film category it routed some stiff competition from the heavily favored The Front Line and from the immensely popular Sunny, which, despite being loved by critics and audiences alike, has failed to score many accolades (save for Best Director at the 'Daejong Awards') this awards season, and War of the Arrows.  

Ryoo Seung-wan's Best Director win was equally impressive.  While the nominees were identical to the Best Film category, which is quite common, the last time a film has won both awards at a major awards show was Na Hong-jin's The Chaser back in 2008 at Daejong.

Park Hoon-jun walked away with the Best Screenplay prize after the tacky (but enjoyable) Blind had bizarrely picked it up last month.  However, it must be said that in a recent interview with Paul Quinn over at Hangul Celluloid, Ryoo Seung-wan did mention that "I changed the script entirely according to my own style but, in truth, I never actually saw the version that Hoon-jung wrote, and I still haven’t seen it. It had been through the hands of many other writers who had been adapting it and it was only at that point that I saw the script."  Park also wrote last year's popular I Saw the Devil

Park Hae-il won Best Actor for War of the Arrows, as he did last month, against heavy competition from Kim Yun-seok (The Yellow Sea) and Ko Soo (The Front Line) but I think many great performance were shut out of this category like Lee Soo-jae in Late Blossom (who was nominated at 'Daejong') or Hwang Jeong-min in both The Unjust and Moby Dick.

Repeating her Daejong success, Kim Na-heul picked up the Best Actress prize for Blind.  Frankly I don't understand this decision at all, her performance is passable but nothing very noteworthy. Kim Hye-soo (Villain and Widow) or Yun So-jeong (Late Blossom), who sadly wasn't nominated, would have been more deserving.

The fantastic veterans Ryoo Seung-ryong (War of the Arrows) and Kim Soo-mi (Late Blossom) were awarded the supporting actor prizes for their roles.  Ryoo in particular had to fend off some strong competition from Yu Hae-jin (The Unjust) and Jo Sung-ha (The Yellow Sea), though I was disappointed that Kim Sang-ho didn't get a nod for his fantastic turn in Moby Dick.

Bleak Night, which has been hoarding numerous awards these past few weeks, once again picked up prizes for Best New Director, for Yoon Sung-hyun, and Best New Actor, for Lee Je-hoon.  Meanwhile Moon Chae-won was awarded Best New Actress for War of the Arrows.

The blockbuster War of the Arrows won the most prizes of the night (5) including the
Audience Choice Award for Most Popular Movie and the 
Best Technical Award for its action sequences.  However its most impressive accomplishment was scoring three acting prizes, no mean feat for an action film!

Despite all of the hullaballoo and its 7 nominations, Silenced only picked up on award, for Best Music.  The Yellow Sea was similarly unsuccessful with only one win for Best Lighting.  Perhaps the biggest shock of the night was that the wonderful Sunny failed to win in any of the 8 categories it was nominated for.

The other awards went to Yanh Hyo-joo who won Best Short Film for Broken Night and Ko Soo, Gong Yoo, Choi Gang-Hee, and Kim Hye-Soo who shared the Popularity Award.

Petty Romance surprised with 4 nods though it didn't pick up any prizes and the huge critical darling The Journals of Musan was also unable to convert either of its nominations into wins at tonight's ceremony.

Just as I was about to write off this year's Korean film industry awards, the Blue Dragon's managed to surprise me by awarding a great film (The Unjust) some richly deserved accolades.  By and large however, the awards show's nominees and winners were often short-sighted, perplexing, and not very evenly distributed.  Though I must confess that I am looking forward to seeing what will be in the mix next year.

Special thanks to Asian Media Wiki, which live-tweeted the results.


32nd Blue Dragon Film Awards Winners and Nominees:


Best Film
Winner: 
The Unjust
Nominees:
Silenced
War of the Arrows

Best Director
Winner: 
Ryoo Seung-wan (The Unjust)
Nominees:
Kang Hyung-chul (Sunny)
Kim Han-min (War of the Arrows)
Ryoo Seung-wan (The Unjust)
Jang Hun (The Front Line)
Hwang Dong-hyuk (Silenced)

Best Actor
Winner: 
Park Hae-il (War of the Arrows)
Nominees:
Ko Soo (The Front Line)
Gong Yoo (Silenced)
Kim Yun-seok (The Yellow Sea)
Park Hae-il (War of the Arrows)
Yoon Kye-sang (Poongsan)

Best Actress
Winner: 
Kim Ha-neul (Blind)
Nominees:
Kim Ha-neul (Blind)
Kim Hye-soo (Villain and Widow)
Jung Yu-mi (Silenced)
Choi Gang-hee (Petty Romance)
Wei Tang (Late Autumn)

Best Supporting Actor
Winner: 
Ryoo Seung-ryong (War of the Arrows)
Nominees:
Ko Chang-seok (The Front Line)
Ryoo Seung-ryong (War of the Arrows)
Yu Hae-jin (The Unjust)
Jang Gwang (Silenced)
Jo Sung-ha (The Yellow Sea)

Best Supporting Actress
Winner: 
Kim Soo-mi (Late Blossom)
Nominees:
Kim Soo-mi (Late Blossom)
Ryoo Hyoun-kyoung (Petty Romance)
Yoo Sun (GLove)
Jang Yeong-nam (Hello Ghost)
Cheon Woo-hee (Sunny)

Best New Actor
Winner: 
Lee Je-hoon (Bleak Night)
Nominees:
Park Jung-bum (The Journals of Musan)
Seo Jun-young (Bleak Night)
Song Yoo-ha (Petty Romance)
Lee David (The Front Line)
Lee Je-hoon (Bleak Night)

Best New Actress
Winner: 
Moon Chae-won (War of the Arrows)
Nominees:
Kang So-ra (Sunny)
Moon Chae-won (War of the Arrows)
Baek Jin-hee (Foxy Festival)
Shin Se-kyung (Hindsight)
You Da-in (Re-encounter)

Best New Director
Winner: 
Yoon Sung-hyun (Bleak Night)
Nominees:
Kim Min-suk (Haunters)
Kim Young-tak (Hello Ghost)
Kim Jung-hoon (Petty Romance)
Park Jung-bum (The Journals of Musan)
Yoon Sung-hyun (Bleak Night)

Best Cinematography
Winner: 
Kim Woo-hyung (The Front Line)
Nominees:
Kim Woo-hyung (The Front Line)
Kim Tae-sung (War of the Arrows)
Son Won-ho (Blind)
Lee Sung-jae (The Yellow Sea)
Jung Jung-hoon (The Unjust)

Best Lighting
Winner: 
Hwang Soon-wook (The Yellow Sea)
Nominees:
War of the Arrows
The Yellow Sea

Best Music
Winner: 
Mogue (Silenced)
Nominees:
Sunny
War of the Arrows
Silenced
Late Autumn

Best Art Design
Winner: 
Ryoo Sung-hee (The Front Line)
Nominees:
The Front Line
Sunny
The Yellow Sea
War of the Arrows
Detective K: Secret Of Virtuous Widow

Best Technical Award
Winner: 
Oh Se-young (War of the Arrows) (action)
Nominees:
Detective K: Secret Of Virtuous Widow (costume)
Sunny (edting)
War of the Arrows (action)
Sector 7 (CG)
The Front Line (fx)

Best Screenplay
Winner: 
Park Hoon-jung (The Unjust)
Nominees:
Kang Hyung-chul (Sunny)
Park Sang-yeon (The Front Line)
Park Hoon-jung (The Unjust)
Choi Min-suk (Blind)
Hwang Dong-hyuk (Silenced)

Best Short Film
Winner: 
Yang Hyo-joo (Broken Night)

Popularity Award
Winners: 
Ko Soo
Gong Yoo
Choi Gang-hee
Kim Hye-soo

Audience Choice Award for Most Popular Movie
Winner: 
War of the Arrows

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