Glittering at Golden Globes
Three Chinese films have been nominated for best foreign language film, but it seems unlikely that will translate into triumph at the Oscars. Xu Fan reports.
China has staged a strong showing in best foreign language film nominations at the Golden Globes— which are widely considered a vetting for the Oscars — but insiders say it’s unlikely any Chinese films will take this year’s Academy Awards.
The Golden Globes’ organizer, the Hollywood Foreign PressAssociation, announced three Chinese films are among 53 nominees for the genre.
Candidates include Zhang Yimou’s Coming Home, two-time Hong Kong Film Awards winner Peter Chan’s Dearest and best-selling novelist Han Han’s directorial debut, The Continent.
About 90 international journalists who are association members will vote for the winners of 24 categories, ranging from best film to screenplay.
The Golden Globes are staged in Beverly Hills a month before the Academy Awards and are consequently considered a litmus test for Oscar success.
While Coming Home, Dearest and The Continent average nearly 8 out of 10 points on China’s top movie-review websites, critics tell China Daily they aren’t optimistic about the results that will be revealed on Thursday Beijing time.
China Film Archive cinema studies department deputy director Zuo Heng says the films are too removed from American taste to take Oscars. “I’m afraid none of them will be nominated,” he says.
“Coming Home tells an outdated story set in the turmoil time of the ‘cultural revolution’ (1966-76). Dearest lacks originality — the second half resembles A Separation (the first Iranian movie to win the best foreignlanguage Oscar in 2012). The Continent fails in its depictions,” he says, referring to rough editing and poor production.
China Film Critic Society academic director Wang Xudong says: “All three face the same obstacle to win US audiences. They can’t cross cultural boundaries to garner international appeal. But if I had to pick one that’s most likely to win, I’d go with Dearest.”
He believes that film, starring Zhao Wei, may prove a dark horse because the realistic story of a couple searching for their abducted child for three years is easily understood by foreign viewers. It took best director and best film awards at the 2014 China International Film Festival in London on Dec 6.
Wang cites Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (the first Chinese Oscarwinner) and Venice Golden Lion-winner The Story of Qiu Ju (a 1992 Zhang Yimou movie) as films that cross linguistic and cultural barriers.
“Martial-arts films have long been aWestern favorite,” he says.
“Qiu Ju’s story is about an ordinary woman’s struggle for justice from the judicial system. Such productions can strike an emotional chord across the world. Coming Home and The Continent are more tailored for the Chinese market. Only Chinese understand their storylines and most dialogue.”
Insiders say it doesn’t matter that China ties with Canada for second in terms of the number of foreign film nominations. (France has six.)
“The winner could be the only film one country enters,” China Film Archive researcher Li Xu says.
But even if China’s candidates don’t win, their nominations may yet translate into commercial potential overseas.
“It’s difficult to predict the influence on international sales but is definitely encouraging to Han Han as a new director,” says Zheng Ye, production planning director of Bona, the distributor of The Continent.
The 2015 Golden Globe Awards will be held on Jan 11 and hosted by comedians Tina Fey and Amy Poehler for the third time.
More than 51 percent of dialogue must be in a language other than English to qualify for the best foreign language film category.
Five Chinese films qualified last year, but none won.
They included Hong Kong directorWong Kar Wai’s The Grandmaster, Feng Xiaogang’s disaster epic Back to 1942 and filmfestival darling Jia Zhangke’s A Touch of Sin. Contact the writer at email@example.com