Blue Ribbon Awards Announces Nominations for 63rd Edition

Presented by film critics and writers in Tokyo, the Blue Ribbon Awards has announced its nominations for the 63rd edition honouring films released in 2020 which has admittedly been a difficult year though as the list of nominees demonstrates nevertheless a strong one for cinema. This year there will be no physical ceremony but the winners are expected to be announced in mid-February.

Best Film  

  • True Mothers – heartbreaking drama from Naomi Kawase in which a young couple adopt a baby only for the birth mother to resurface
  • The Asadas – latest from Ryota Nakano starring Kazunari Ninomiya inspired by the life of photographer Masashi Asada.
  • Underdog – boxing drama from Masaharu Take.
  • Ito – Heisei love story inspired by the classic Miyuki Nakajima song, directed by Takahisa Zeze, and starring Nana Komatsu & Masaki Suda
  • A Beloved Wife – An unsuccessful screenwriter is henpecked by his understandably irate sake-guzzling wife in this autobiographical take on a toxic marriage.
  • Kyou Kara Ore Wa!!: The Movie – big screen outing for the TV drama adaptation of the high school delinquent manga by Hiroyuki Nishimori directed by Yuichi Fukuda.
  • Theatre: A Love Story – A self-obsessed writer slowly destroys the joy and hope of a woman he claims to love then turns it into art in Isao Yukisada’s dark romance
  • Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba the Movie: Mugen Train – record breaking movie of the hit TV anime in which a boy in the Taisho era tries to heal his younger sister after she is turned into a demon.
  • The Confidence Man JP: Princess – sequel in which the gang of scammers try their luck in Malaysia
  • Wife of a Spy – 8K wartime drama from Kiyoshi Kurosawa in which Yu Aoi tries to stop her husband Takahashi Issei from blowing the whistle after witnessing atrocity in Manchuria.
  • The Voice of Sin – Shun Oguri stars as a reporter investigating a 30-year-old unsolved case.
  • Any Crybabies Around? – a young man flees his family in embarrassment after going viral for getting drunk and being naked at a festival only to return two years later to make it up to them.
  • First Love – boxing drama from Takashi Miike
  • Fukushima 50 – Setsuro Wakamatsu draws inspiration from Ryusho Kadota’s nonfiction book to pay tribute to the workers who stayed behind during the crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.
  • Mother – Masami Nagasawa stars as an abusive mother who pushes her teenage son towards murder.
  • Mishima: The Last Debate – documentary focussing on Yukio Mishima’s address to the students at the University of Tokyo in 1969
  • Midnight Swan – ex-SMAP member Tsuyoshi Kusanagi stars as a transgender woman who takes in a little girl neglected by her parents.
  • Minoriyuku – drama about an apple farmer who was born with a stammer and dreams of becoming a comedian.
  • Mio’s Cookbook – Haruki Kadokawa period drama in which a woman who lost her parents in a flood discovers a talent for cooking.
  • Yowamushi Pedal – live action adaptation of the popular high school bicycle racing manga.

Best Director

  • Eiji Uchida (Midnight Swan)
  • Naomi Kawase (True Mothers)
  • Kiyoshi Kurosawa (Wife of a Spy)
  • Nobuhiro Doi (The Voice of Sin)
  • Ryota Nakano (The Asadas)

Best Actor

  • Shun Oguri (The Voice of Sin)
  • Tsuyoshi Kusanagi (Midnight Swan)
  • Koichi Sato (Fukushima 50)
  • Kazunari Ninomiya (The Asadas)
  • Mirai Moriyama (Underdog)

Best Actress

  • Yu Aoi (Wife of a Spy)
  • Mana Ashida (Child of the Stars)
  • Hiromi Nagasaku (True Mothers)
  • Masami Nagasawa (Mother / Confidence Man JP: Princess)
  • Asami Mizukawa (A Beloved Wife)

Best Supporting Actor

  • Satoshi Tsumabuki (The Asadas / I Never Shot Anyone)
  • Ryo Narita (The Cornered Mouse Dreams of Cheese / Ito)
  • Masahiro Higashide (Confidence Man JP: Princess / Wife of a Spy)
  • Gen Hoshino (The Voice of Sin)
  • Ken Watanabe (Fukushima 50)

Best Supporting Actress

  • Sairi Ito (Theatre: A Love Story / Step / Junihitoe wo Kita Akuma / Hotel Royal)
  • Nana Eikura (Ito)
  • Haru Kuroki (The Asadas)
  • Becky (First Love)
  • Aju Makita (True Mothers)

Best Newcomer

  • Daiken Okudaira (Mother)
  • Sakurako Konishi (First Love)
  • Nao (Mio’s Cookbook / Stigmatized Properties)
  • Misaki Hattori (Midnight Swan)
  • Hio Miyazawa (his)
  • Nana Mori (Last Letter)

Best Foreign Film

  • Mr Jones
  • Never Look Away
  • The Painted Bird
  • 1917
  • Abe
  • Cats
  • Judy
  • Bombshell
  • Little Women
  • Tenet
  • Onward 
  • The Kindness of Strangers 
  • Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey 
  • House of Hummingbird
  • Parasite
  • The Farewell 
  • Ford v Ferrari (AKA Le Mans ’66 in some territories)
  • Midsommar 
  • A Rainy Day in New York 
  • Wonder Woman 1984

Sources: Eiga NatalieSports Hochi

Japan Academy Prize Announces Winners for 43rd Edition

The Japan Academy Prize, Japan’s equivalent of the Oscars awarded by the Nippon Academy-sho Association of industry professionals, has announced the winners for its 43rd edition which honours films released between Dec. 16, 2018 and Dec. 15, 2019. Michihito Fujii’s political thriller The Journalist dominated the major categories taking Picture of the Year as well as Best Actor/Actress, while Kingdom also made a good showing taking both Supporting Actor and Actress. Despite its large number of nominations, Fly Me to the Saitama took only Director, Screenplay, and Editing.

Picture of the Year

Animation of the Year

  • Her Blue Sky
  • Weathering with You
  • Detective Conan: The Fist of Blue Sapphire
  • Lupin III: The First
  • One Piece: Stampede

Director of the Year

Screenplay of the Year

  • Shozo Katashima (Talking the Pictures)
  • Roba Shimori, Akihiko Takaishi, Michihito Fujii (The Journalist)
  • Yuichi Tokunaga (Fly Me to the Saitama)
  • Hideyuki Hirayama (Closed Ward)
  • Koki Mitani (Hit Me Anyone One More Time)

Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

  • Tsurube Shofukutei (Closed Ward)
  • Masaki Suda (The Great War of Archimedes)
  • Kiichi Nakai (Hit Me Anyone One More Time)
  • Tori Matsuzaka (The Journalist)
  • GACKT (Fly Me to the Saitama)

Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

  • Go Ayano (Closed Ward)
  • Yusuke Iseya (Fly Me to the Saitama)
  • Tasuku Emoto (The Great War of Archimedes)
  • Takashi Okamura (The 47 Ronin in Debt)
  • Kuranosuke Sasaki (Kubo Ibuki)
  • Ryo Yoshizawa (Kingdom)

Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

Outstanding Achievement in Music

Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography

  • Taro Kawazu (Kingdom)
  • Kozo Shibasaki (Closed Ward)
  • Shohei Tanigawa (Fly Me to the Saitama)
  • Piotr Niemyjski (Listen to the Universe)
  • Junichi Fujisawa (Talking the Pictures)

Outstanding Achievement in Lighting Direction

The lighting award is tied to cinematography which was awarded to Kingdom but unfortunately there was no eligible nominee so this year there is no winner in the lighting category.

  • Nariyuki Ueda (Closed Ward)
  • Shunri Rinoie (Fly Me to the Saitama)
  • Kenjiro So (Listen to the Universe)
  • Tatsuya Osada (Talking the Pictures)

Outstanding Achievement in Art Direction

  • Yoji Abeki (Fly Me to the Saitama)
  • Norihiro Isoda (Talking the Pictures)
  • Iwao Saito (Kingdom)
  • Anri Johjo (The Great War of Archimedes)
  • Katsumi Nakazawa (Closed Ward)

Outstanding Achievement in Sound Recording

  • Hirokazu Kato (Fly Me to the Saitama)
  • Yoshifumi Kureishi (Listen to the Universe)
  • Hiromichi Kori (Talking the Pictures)
  • Masato Komatsu (Closed Ward)
  • Kazushiko Yokono (Kingdom)

Outstanding Achievement in Film Editing

Outstanding Foreign Language Film

  • Yesterday
  • Green Book
  • Joker
  • The Mule
  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Newcomer of the Year 

(awarded to all nominees equally)

  • Yukino Kishii (Just Only Love)
  • Yuina Kuroshima (Talking the Pictures)
  • Riho Yoshioka (Blind Witness, Parallel World Love Story)
  • Oji Suzuka (Listen to the Universe)
  • Win Morisaki (Listen to the Universe)
  • Ryusei Yokohama (Aiuta: My Promise To Nakuhito; Go Away, Ultramarine; Cheer Boys!)

Special Award from the Association

(Lifetime achievement awards, technical fields)

  • Tetsuo Kaneko (Opticals)
  • Yoichi Kotabe (Animator)
  • Kunio Niwa (Location Manager)
  • Yoshio Yamada (Production Designer)

Award for Distinguished Service from the Chairman

(Lifetime achievement awards, creatives)

  • Koji Takada (Screenwriter)
  • Akira Takarada (Actor)
  • Yoko Tsukasa (Actress)
  • Sadao Nakajima (Director)
  • Ayako Wakao (Actress)

Special Award from the Chairman

(Lifetime achievement award presented to members of the film industry who passed away during 2019)

  • Etsuko Ichihara (Actress)
  • Yasuo Furuhata (Director)
  • Tadao Takashima (Actor)
  • Makoto Wada (Director, Screenwriter, Illustrator)

In Memoriam 

(Special section honouring previous recipients of the Special Awards who passed away in 2019)

  • Junya Sato (Director/Screenwriter)
  • Machiko Kyo (Actress)
  • Takashi Kawamata (Cinematographer)
  • Yoshinobu Nishioka (Art Director)
  • Kaoru Yachigusa (Actress)
  • Takashi Matsuda (Costume Designer)
  • Sunao Sakagami (Producer)
  • Masashi Tara (Sound Designer)
  • Nobuo Yajima (Special Effects)

Popularity Awards

(Decided via an All Night Nippon listener poll)

Movie: The 47 Ronin in Debt

Actor: Gen Hoshino (Samurai Shifters)

Source: Japan Academy Prize official websiteEiga Natalie

Blue Ribbon Awards Announces Winners for 62nd Edition

The Blue Ribbon Awards, presented by film critics and writers in Tokyo, has announced the winners for the 62nd edition which honours films released in 2019. Crowd pleasing comedy Fly Me to the Saitama continues its awards season success by taking Best Film while Tetsuya Mariko picks up a best director award, and Kiichi Nakai and Masami Nagasawa take home Best Actor and Actress respectively. The awards will be presented at a prize giving ceremony at Iino Hall on 18th February.

The winners in full:

Best Film

Winner: Fly Me to the Saitama – broad comedy in which the residents of Saitama have become an oppressed minority.

Best 10

“Best 13” because there was a four way tie. Presented in no particular order.

  • The Great War of Archimedes – wartime drama from the director of The Eternal Zero starring Masaki Suda as a maths genius trying to expose corruption in the military.
  • Welcome Back, Tora-san – 50th anniversary tribute to Yoji Yamada’s long running Tora-san series.
  • Talking the Pictures – Masayuki Suo’s tribute to the age of the “benshi” silent movie narrator.
  • Hit Me Anyone One More Time – latest from Koki Mitani in which a man gets a blow on the head and loses his memory only to be told he is actually the prime minister of Japan!
  • Kingdom – “wuxia” manga adaptation from blockbuster maestro Shinsuke Sato.
  • The Journalist – political thriller starring Shim Eun-kyung as a reporter attempting to expose governmental corruption and Tori Matsuzaka as a conflicted civil servant.
  • Weathering with You – latest animation from Makoto Shinkai in which a boy runs away from home and meets a girl who can control the weather.
  • Fly Me to the Saitama – broad comedy in which the residents of Saitama have become an oppressed minority.
  • Sea of Revival – drama from Kazuya Shiraishi in which a man moves back to his partner’s home town but finds that trouble follows him.
  • One Night – drama from Kazuya Shiraishi in which a scattered family reunites 15 years after one traumatic night.
  • Masquerade Hotel – mystery starring Takuya Kimura as a detective working undercover at a hotel where he clashes with front desk manager Masami Nagasawa as they try to catch a serial killer.
  • Listen to the Universe – adaptation of Riku Onda’s novel following four aspiring concert pianists directed by Kei Ishikawa (Gukoroku: Traces of Sin)
  • From Miyamoto to You – sequel to a TV drama directed by Tetsuya Mariko (Destruction Babies) starring Sosuke Ikematsu as a shy salesman who falls for Yu Aoi’s office worker.

Runners up

(titles from the long list which didn’t make the final cut. No particular order)

  • It Feels So Good – steamy drama from screenwriter Haruhiko Arai in which a bride-to-be (Kumi Takiuchi) reconnects with an old flame (Tasuku Emoto)
  • The Confidence Man JP – big screen outing for a TV drama starring Masami Nagasawa as a conwoman.
  • The Bucket List – Isshin Inudo’s remake of the US comedy starring Sayuri Yoshinaga and Yuki Amami as two terminally ill women who find the bucket list of a 12-year-old girl and decide to follow it.
  • 12 Suicidal Teens – 12 depressed teens meet in a disused hospital to die but discover new will to live after investigating a murder.
  • Typhoon Family – family drama in which siblings reunite 10 years after their parents robbed a bank and disappeared.
  • Another World – Three high school buddies reunite in their small-town home hoping to restore the easy bond of their adolescence while battling middle-aged disappointment in the latest from Junji Sakamoto.
  • Closed Ward – drama in which a murder occurs at a psychiatric hospital.

Best Director

Best Actor

  • Shingo Katori (Sea of Revival)
  • Masaki Suda (The Great War of Archimedes)
  • Kiichi Nakai (Hit Me Anyone One More Time)
  • Ryo Narita (Talking the Pictures)
  • Tori Matsuzaka (The Journalist, Iwane: Sword of Serenity)

Best Actress

  • Yu Aoi (A Long Goodbye)
  • Masami Nagasawa (The Confidence Man JP)
  • Fumi Nikaido (Fly Me to the Saitama)
  • Mayu Matsuoka (Listen to the Universe)
  • Riho Yoshioka (Blind Witness)
  • Sayuri Yoshinaga (The Bucket List)

Best Supporting Actor

  • Go Ayano (Closed Ward)
  • Itsuji Itao (My Father, the Bride; The 47 Ronin in Debt)
  • Kiyohiko Shibukawa (Another World, Closed Ward)
  • Ryo Narita (ChiwawaFly Me to the Saitama, Farewell Song, No Longer Human)
  • Tori Matsuzaka (Listen to the Universe)
  • Ryo Yoshizawa (Kingdom)

Best Supporting Actress

  • Yuki Amami (The Bucket List)
  • Chizuru Ikewaki (Another World)
  • Nana Komatsu (Samurai Marathon, Closed Ward)
  • Masami Nagasawa (Masquerade Hotel, Kingdom)
  • Mayu Matsuoka (One Night)
  • MEGUMI (Typhoon Family; Little Nights, Little Love; One Night)

Best Newcomer

Best Foreign Film

Winner: Joker

Foreign Film Best 10

(11 because of a tie. No particular order)

  • Frozen 2
  • Aladdin
  • Yesterday
  • Green Book
  • Godzilla: King of the Monsters
  • City Hunter (French live action movie)
  • Joker
  • Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse 
  • The Mule
  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Runners up

(titles from the long list which didn’t make the final cut. No particular order)

  • The Irishman
  • The Spy Gone North
  • The Favourite
  • The Truth (Koreeda)
  • Toy Story 4
  • Mary Queen of Scots
  • Detective Pikachu
  • Lion King
  • Rocketman

Sources: Eiga Natalie, Sports Hochi

Japan Academy Prize Announces Nominees for 43rd Edition

Fly Me to the Saitama still 4The Japan Academy Prize, Japan’s equivalent of the Oscars awarded by the Nippon Academy-sho Association of industry professionals, has announced the candidate list for its 43rd edition which honours films released between Dec. 16, 2018 and Dec. 15, 2019. This year, perhaps surprisingly, crowd pleasing surrealist comedy Fly Me to the Saitama has topped the charts with nominations in 12 categories including film, director, screenplay, leading actor, leading actress, and supporting actor, while Shinsuke Sato’s wuxia-inspired blockbuster Kingdom and Michihito Fujii’s political thriller The Journalist also pick up multiple nominations. The winners will be announced at the star-studded awards ceremony at Grand Prince Hotel New Takanawa on March 6.

Picture of the Year

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Animation of the Year

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  • Her Blue Sky
  • Weathering with You
  • Detective Conan: The Fist of Blue Sapphire
  • Lupin III: The First
  • One Piece: Stampede

Director of the Year

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Screenplay of the Year

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  • Shozo Katashima (Talking the Pictures)
  • Roba Shimori, Akihiko Takaishi, Michihito Fujii (The Journalist)
  • Yuichi Tokunaga (Fly Me to the Saitama)
  • Hideyuki Hirayama (Closed Ward)
  • Koki Mitani (Hit Me Anyone One More Time)

Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

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  • Tsurube Shofukutei (Closed Ward)
  • Masaki Suda (The Great War of Archimedes)
  • Kiichi Nakai (Hit Me Anyone One More Time)
  • Tori Matsuzaka (The Journalist)
  • GACKT (Fly Me to the Saitama)

Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

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  • Shim Eun-kyung (The Journalist)
  • Fumi Nikaido (Fly Me to the Saitama)
  • Mayu Matsuoka (Listen to the Universe)
  • Rie Miyazawa (No Longer Human)
  • Sayuri Yoshinaga (The Bucket List)

Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

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  • Go Ayano (Closed Ward)
  • Yusuke Iseya (Fly Me to the Saitama)
  • Tasuku Emoto (The Great War of Archimedes)
  • Takashi Okamura (The 47 Ronin in Debt)
  • Kuranosuke Sasaki (Kubo Ibuki)
  • Ryo Yoshizawa (Kingdom)

Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

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  • Yuki Amami (The Bucket List)
  • Nana Komatsu (Closed Ward)
  • Mitsuki Takahata (A Banana? At This Time of Night?)
  • Masami Nagasawa (Kingdom)
  • Fumi Nikaido (No Longer Human)

Outstanding Achievement in Music

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Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography

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  • Taro Kawazu (Kingdom)
  • Kozo Shibasaki (Closed Ward)
  • Shohei Tanigawa (Fly Me to the Saitama)
  • Piotr Niemyjski (Listen to the Universe)
  • Junichi Fujisawa (Talking the Pictures)

Outstanding Achievement in Lighting Direction

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  • Nariyuki Ueda (Closed Ward)
  • Shunri Rinoie (Fly Me to the Saitama)
  • Kenjiro So (Listen to the Universe)
  • Tatsuya Osada (Talking the Pictures)

Outstanding Achievement in Art Direction

 

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  • Yoji Abeki (Fly Me to the Saitama)
  • Norihiro Isoda (Talking the Pictures)
  • Iwao Saito (Kingdom)
  • Anri Johjo (The Great War of Archimedes)
  • Katsumi Nakazawa (Closed Ward)

Outstanding Achievement in Sound Recording

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  • Hirokazu Kato (Fly Me to the Saitama)
  • Yoshifumi Kureishi (Listen to the Universe)
  • Hiromichi Kori (Talking the Pictures)
  • Masato Komatsu (Closed Ward)
  • Kazushiko Yokono (Kingdom)

Outstanding Achievement in Film Editing

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Outstanding Foreign Language Film

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  • Yesterday
  • Green Book
  • Joker
  • The Mule
  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Newcomer of the Year 

(awarded to all nominees equally)

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  • Yukino Kishii (Just Only Love)
  • Yuina Kuroshima (Talking the Pictures)
  • Riho Yoshioka (Blind Witness, Parallel World Love Story)
  • Oji Suzuka (Listen to the Universe)
  • Win Morisaki (Listen to the Universe)
  • Ryusei Yokohama (Aiuta: My Promise To Nakuhito; Go Away, Ultramarine; Cheer Boys!)

Special Award from the Association

(Lifetime achievement awards, technical fields)

  • Tetsuo Kaneko (Opticals)
  • Yoichi Kotabe (Animator)
  • Kunio Niwa (Location Manager)
  • Yoshio Yamada (Production Designer)

Award for Distinguished Service from the Chairman

(Lifetime achievement awards, creatives)

  • Koji Takada (Screenwriter)
  • Akira Takarada (Actor)
  • Yoko Tsukasa (Actress)
  • Sadao Nakajima (Director)
  • Ayako Wakao (Actress)

Special Award from the Chairman

(Lifetime achievement award presented to members of the film industry who passed away during 2019)

  • Etsuko Ichihara (Actress)
  • Yasuo Furuhata (Director)
  • Tadao Takashima (Actor)
  • Makoto Wada (Director, Screenwriter, Illustrator)

In Memoriam 

(Special section honouring previous recipients of the Special Awards who passed away in 2019)

  • Junya Sato (Director/Screenwriter)
  • Machiko Kyo (Actress)
  • Takashi Kawamata (Cinematographer)
  • Yoshinobu Nishioka (Art Director)
  • Kaoru Yachigusa (Actress)
  • Takashi Matsuda (Costume Designer)
  • Sunao Sakagami (Producer)
  • Masashi Tara (Sound Designer)
  • Nobuo Yajima (Special Effects)

Source: Japan Academy Prize official website, Eiga Natalie

 

Blue Ribbon Awards Announces Nominations for 62nd Edition

Katsuben still 1Presented by film critics and writers in Tokyo, the Blue Ribbon Awards has announced its nominations for the 62nd edition which honours films released in 2019. In addition to nominating a “best” picture, the best film long list will also be whittled down to a “best 10” when the polls close later this month. Winners are usually announced in advance of the prize giving ceremony which this year takes place on 18th February.

Best Film / “Best 10” 

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  • The Great War of Archimedes – wartime drama from the director of The Eternal Zero starring Masaki Suda as a maths genius trying to expose corruption in the military.
  • Welcome Back, Tora-san – 50th anniversary tribute to Yoji Yamada’s long running Tora-san series.
  • It Feels So Good – steamy drama from screenwriter Haruhiko Arai in which a bride-to-be (Kumi Takiuchi) reconnects with an old flame (Tasuku Emoto)
  • Talking the Pictures – Masayuki Suo’s tribute to the age of the “benshi” silent movie narrator.
  • Hit Me Anyone One More Time – latest from Koki Mitani in which a man gets a blow on the head and loses his memory only to be told he is actually the prime minister of Japan!
  • Kingdom – “wuxia” manga adaptation from blockbuster maestro Shinsuke Sato.
  • The Confidence Man JP – big screen outing for a TV drama starring Masami Nagasawa as a conwoman.
  • The Bucket List – Isshin Inudo’s remake of the US comedy starring Sayuri Yoshinaga and Yuki Amami as two terminally ill women who find the bucket list of a 12-year-old girl and decide to follow it.
  • 12 Suicidal Teens – 12 depressed teens meet in a disused hospital to die but discover new will to live after investigating a murder.
  • The Journalist – political thriller starring Shim Eun-kyung as a reporter attempting to expose governmental corruption and Tori Matsuzaka as a conflicted civil servant.
  • Typhoon Family – family drama in which siblings reunite 10 years after their parents robbed a bank and disappeared.
  • Weathering with You – latest animation from Makoto Shinkai in which a boy runs away from home and meets a girl who can control the weather.
  • Fly Me to the Saitama – broad comedy in which the residents of Saitama have become an oppressed minority.
  • Sea of Revival – drama from Kazuya Shiraishi in which a man moves back to his partner’s home town but finds that trouble follows him.
  • Another World – Three high school buddies reunite in their small-town home hoping to restore the easy bond of their adolescence while battling middle-aged disappointment in the latest from Junji Sakamoto.
  • One Night – drama from Kazuya Shiraishi in which a scattered family reunites 15 years after one traumatic night.
  • Closed Ward – drama in which a murder occurs at a psychiatric hospital.
  • Masquerade Hotel – mystery starring Takuya Kimura as a detective working undercover at a hotel where he clashes with front desk manager Masami Nagasawa as they try to catch a serial killer.
  • Listen to the Universe – adaptation of Riku Onda’s novel following four aspiring concert pianists directed by Kei Ishikawa (Gukoroku: Traces of Sin)
  • From Miyamoto to You – sequel to a TV drama directed by Tetsuya Mariko (Destruction Babies) starring Sosuke Ikematsu as a shy salesman who falls for Yu Aoi’s office worker.

Best Director

Best Actor

  • Shingo Katori (Sea of Revival)
  • Masaki Suda (The Great War of Archimedes)
  • Kiichi Nakai (Hit Me Anyone One More Time)
  • Ryo Narita (Talking the Pictures)
  • Tori Matsuzaka (The Journalist, Iwane: Sword of Serenity)

Best Actress

  • Yu Aoi (A Long Goodbye)
  • Masami Nagasawa (The Confidence Man JP)
  • Fumi Nikaido (Fly Me to the Saitama)
  • Mayu Matsuoka (Listen to the Universe)
  • Riho Yoshioka (Blind Witness)
  • Sayuri Yoshinaga (The Bucket List)

Best Supporting Actor

  • Go Ayano (Closed Ward)
  • Itsuji Itao (My Father, the Bride; The 47 Ronin in Debt)
  • Kiyohiko Shibukawa (Another World, Closed Ward)
  • Ryo Narita (Chiwawa, Fly Me to the Saitama, Farewell Song, No Longer Human)
  • Tori Matsuzaka (Listen to the Universe)
  • Ryo Yoshizawa (Kingdom)

Best Supporting Actress

  • Yuki Amami (The Bucket List)
  • Chizuru Ikewaki (Another World)
  • Nana Komatsu (Samurai Marathon, Closed Ward)
  • Masami Nagasawa (Masquerade Hotel, Kingdom)
  • Mayu Matsuoka (One Night)
  • MEGUMI (Typhoon Family; Little Nights, Little Love; One Night)

Best Newcomer

Sources: Eiga Natalie, Sports Hochi

Shoplifters Sweeps 42nd Japan Academy Prize

Shoplifters poster 2The 42nd Japan Academy Prize was presented at Grand Prince Hotel New Takanawa on 1st March, 2019. Hirokazu Koreeda swept the board for a second year in a row with his Palme d’Or winning family drama Shoplifters which picked up eight awards including Picture, Director, Actress, and Supporting Actress. Meanwhile, Kazuya Shirashi’s retro gangster epic The Blood of Wolves picked up prizes for both of its leading men as well as a handful of technical awards.

Picture of the Year

Shoplifters still 2

Animation of the Year

Mirai banner

  • Dragon Ball Super: Broly (Tatsuya Nagamine)
  • Penguin Highway (Hiroyasu Ishida)
  • Mirai (Mamoru Hosoda)
  • Detective Conan: Zero The Enforcer (Yuzuru Tachikawa)
  • Okko’s Inn (Kitaro Kosaka)

Director of the Year

shoplifters still 5.jpg

Best Screenplay

Shoplifters still 6

Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

Blood of Wolves still 2

Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

Shoplifters still 3

  • Sakura Ando (Shoplifters)
  • Haru Kuroki (Every Day a Good Day)
  • Ryoko Shinohara (The House Where the Mermaid Sleeps)
  • Mayu Matsuoka (Tremble All You Want)
  • Sayuri Yoshinaga (Sakura Guardian in the North)

Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

blood of wolves still 1

  • Ittoku Kishibe (Sakura Guardian in the North)
  • Dean Fujioka (Recall)
  • Hidetoshi Nishijima (Life in Overtime)
  • Kazunari Ninomiya (Killing for the Prosecution)
  • Tori Matsuzaka (The Blood of Wolves)

Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

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Outstanding Achievement in Music

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Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography

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Outstanding Achievement in Lighting Direction

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Outstanding Achievement in Art Direction

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  • Tsutomu Imamura (The Blood of Wolves)
  • Takashi Nishimura (Recall)
  • Mitsuo Harada (Samurai’s Promise)
  • Kyoko Heya (Sakura Guardian in the North)
  • Keiko Mitsumatsu (Shoplifters)

Outstanding Achievement in Sound Recording

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Outstanding Achievement in Film Editing

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Newcomer of the Year 

(awarded to all nominees equally – announced along with nominations)

  • Moka Kamishiraishi (A Forest of Wool and Steel)
  • Shuri (Love At Least)
  • Yurina Hirate (Hibiki)
  • Kyoko Yoshine (Kasane, Samurai’s Promise)
  • Kentaro (Cafe Funiculi Funicula)
  • Taishi Nakagawa (Kids on the Slope, Lock-On Love)
  • Ryo Narita (Stolen Identity, The Antique)
  • Ryo Yoshizawa (River’s Edge)

Special Award of Honour from the Association

(Lifetime achievement awards – technical fields)

  • Yasuo Otsuka (animator)
  • Tadashi Kanada (still photography)
  • Tsutomu Sakurai (producer)
  • Keisuke Chiyoda (costuming)

Special Award of Honour from the Chairman

(Lifetime achievement awards celebrating contribution to the film industry)

  • Mariko Okada (actress and producer)
  • Keiko Kishi (actress)
  • Junya Sato (director and screenwriter)
  • Kiju Yoshida (director and screenwriter)

Special Award from the Chairman 

(Lifetime achievement award presented to members of the film industry who passed away during 2018)

  • Isao Takahata (animation director)
  • Yuriko Hoshi (actress)
  • Masahito Tsugawa (actor)
  • Kirin Kiki (actress)
  • Sadaji Yoshida (cinematographer)
  • Mitsuru Kurosawa (producer)

In Memoriam 

(special section commemorating previous winners of the special awards who passed away in 2018)

  • Tadashi Sawashima (director)
  • Chuji Kinoshita (composer)
  • Shinobu Hashimoto (screenwriter, director, and producer)

Special In Memoriam 

  • Masayuki Nagare (world renowned sculptor and founding member of the Japan Academy Prize as well as the designer of the trophy).

Popularity Awards

(nominated by an All Night Nippon audience poll)

Movie: One Cut of the Dead

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Actor: Kentaro (Cafe Funiculi Funicula)

Kentaro Cafe Funiculi Funicular

Source: Japan Academy Prize official website

One Cut of the Dead Triumphs at 61st Blue Ribbon Awards

One Cut of the DeadAhead of the official ceremony on 6th February, the Blue Ribbon Awards has released its list of winners for the 61st edition which honours films released in 2018. Runaway box office hit One Cut of the Dead (released on 28th January in the UK courtesy of Third Window Films) has taken the top spot while Kazuya Shirashi, who took last year’s prize for Birds Without Names, has retained the Best Director award for the three films he released last year – The Blood of Wolves, Dare to Stop Us, and Sunny (not to be confused with the remake of the Korean film by the same name which also makes it into the top 10).

Individual Awards

Best Film: One Cut of the Dead

Best Actor: Hiroshi Tachi (Life in Overtime)

Best Actress: Mugi Kadowaki (Dare to Stop Us)

Best Supporting Actor: Tori Matsuzaka (The Blood of Wolves)

Best Supporting Actress: Mayu Matsuoka (Shoplifters / Chihayafuru Part 3)

Best Newcomer: Sara Minami (Shino Can’t Say Her Name)

Best Director: Kazuya Shiraishi (The Blood of Wolves / Dare to Stop Us / Sunny)

Top 10

In addition to naming individual prizes, the Blue Ribbon Awards also reveals its “Best 10” films of the year which are presented in no particular order.

One Cut of the Dead (カメラを止めるな!)

One Cut of the Dead still 1One Cut of the Dead has already devoured the Japanese box office and now finds itself the winner of the prestigious Blue Ribbon Award for best film. Opening with a 40 minute single take of zombie mayhem, this hilarious horror comedy begins with a film crew trying to make a zombie movie in an abandoned water filtration plant with a dark past only for some uninvited guests to turn up and join the fun…

Released in the UK by Third Window Films on 28th January.

The Chrysanthemum and the Guillotine (菊とギロチン)

chysanthemum and the guillotine still 1The recently prolific Takahisa Zeze retreats to the Taisho era for a tale of sumo and revolution as a band of anarchists known as the Guillotine Society find themselves fascinated by an itinerant troupe of female sumo wrestlers shortly after the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923.

The Blood of Wolves (孤狼の血)

blood of wolves still 1Kazuya Shirashi, winner of this year’s best director award, pays tribute to the world of Battles Without Honour in an ’80-style neo-noir in which a straight-laced rookie is partnered with a veteran rogue cop who leads him straight into the heart of darkness. Review.

Sunny: Tsuyoi Kimochi Tsuyoi Ai (SUNNY 強い気持ち・強い愛)

sunny japan bannerNot to be confused with Kazuya’s Shiraishi’s Sunny, Hitoshi Ohne’s Sunny: Tsuyoi Kimochi Tsuyoi Ai is a remake of the classic 2011 Korean film by Kang Hyeong-cheol in which a dying 40-year-old woman reunites with her high school friends from 1990 to relive her memories of a bubble-era adolescence.

Recall (空飛ぶタイヤ)

recall bannerA CEO discovers dark secrets about his own company when a tire comes off one of their trucks and kills a young mother.

Dare to Stop Us (止められるか、俺たちを)

dare to stop us still 1Another of three films released this year by Best Director winner Kazuya Shiraishi, Dare To Stop Us revolves around the legendary figure of Koji Wakamatsu – a hugely influential director of pink film who sadly passed away in 2012 following a traffic accident. Set at Wakamatsu Productions between 1969 and 1972, the film is told from the point of view of female crew member Megumi Yoshizumi, played by Best Actress winner Mugi Kadowaki.

Every Day a Good Day (日日是好日)

every day a good day still 1Starring the legendary Kirin Kiki in one of her final performances, Every Day a Good Day is inspired by the writings of Noriko Morishita and revolves around the serene elegance of the traditional tea ceremony.

Asako 1 & 2 (寝ても覚めても)

Aasako 1 & IIA conflicted young woman struggling to move on from lost love falls for a guy who looks just like her ex but can’t decide whether to embrace the fantasy of unresolved romance or the security of a steady relationship in Hamaguchi’s complex yet playful comedy drama adapted from the novel by Tomoka Shibasaki. Review.

Shoplifters (万引き家族)

Shoplifters still 2This year’s Palme d’Or winner, Shoplifters earns Hirokazu Koreeda another spot in the top 10 with a hard hitting tale of marginal lives and manufactured families which continues the long line of Japanese films asking what exactly family means in an increasingly disconnected society. Review.

Yakiniku Dragon (焼肉ドラゴン)

yakiniku dragon bannerDirected by third generation Zainichi director Wishing Chong, Yakiniku Dragon revolves around a Korean-Japanese family in the early ’70s who run a yakiniku restaurant on the outskirts of Osaka.

Source: Eiga Natalie

The Third Murder Sweeps 41st Japan Academy Prize

The Third Murder still 2The 41st Japan Academy Prize was presented at Grand Prince Hotel New Takanawa on 2nd March 2018. Hirokazu Koreeda’s latest, his first foray into the murder mystery, swept the board with six awards including the big ticket items of best picture, director, supporting actor and supporting actress. Despite numerous nominations popular hit Let Me Eat Your Pancreas went away with only the previously announced newcomer awards while period epic Sekigahara had some success in technical categories.

Winners and nominees in full:

Picture of the Year

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Animation of the Year

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Director of the Year

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Best Screenplay

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Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

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Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

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Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

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Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

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Outstanding Achievement in Music

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Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography

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Outstanding Achievement in Lighting Direction

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Outstanding Achievement in Art Direction

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Outstanding Achievement in Sound Recording

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  • Satoshi Ozaki (Flower and Sword)
  • Kazumi Kishida (What a Wonderful Family! 2)
  • Yoshifumi Kureishi (Outrage Coda)
  • Kazuhiko Toyama (The Third Murder)
  • Masahito Yano (Sekigahara)

Outstanding Achievement in Film Editing

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  • Hirohide Abe (Flower and Sword)
  • Iwao Ishii (What a Wonderful Family! 2)
  • Takeshi Kitano & Yoshinori Ohta (Outrage Coda)
  • Hirokazu Koreeda (The Third Murder)
  • Eugene Harada (Sekigahara)

Newcomer of the Year 

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(awarded to all four nominees equally – announced along with nominations)

Special Award of Honour from the Association

(Lifetime achievement awards – technical fields)

  • Etsuko Egawa (makeup & prosthetics)
  • Katsutoshi Osawa (art direction)
  • Midori Onuma (hair & makeup)
  • Hiroshi Koto (costumes)
  • Takefumi Yoshikawa (casting)

Special Award of Honour from the Chairman

(Lifetime achievement awards celebrating contribution to the film industry)

  • Kyoko Kagawa (actress)
  • Takashi Kawamata (cinematographer)
  • Masahiro Shinoda (director)
  • Kenichi Benitani (sound engineer)
  • Toshio Masuda (director)
  • Fujiko Yamamoto (actress)

Special Award from the Chairman 

(Lifetime achievement award presented to members of the film industry who passed away during 2017)

  • Iwao Otani (audio engineer)
  • Hiroki Matsukata (actor)
  • Tsunehiko Watase (actor)
  • Akira Hayasaka (screenwriter)

In Memoriam 

suzukiSeijun Suzuki (director) – As a previous recipient of the Special Award of Honour, Suzuki is ineligible for a second lifetime achievement award but his passing is marked with this special mention.

Popularity Awards

(nominated by an All Night Nippon audience poll)

Movie: Let Me Eat Your Pancreas

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Actor: Masaki Suda (Teiichi: Battle of Supreme High)

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Source: Japan Academy Prize official website

Wilderness Takes Best Film Prize at 60th Blue Ribbon Awards

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The Blue Ribbon Awards, awarded solely by film critics and writers, has announced its list of winners for 2017 ahead of the star studded ceremony which will take place in Tokyo on 8th February.

Individual Awards

Best Film: Wilderness

Best Director: Kazuya Shiraishi (Birds Without Names)

Best Actor: Sadao Abe (Birds Without Names)

Best Actress: Yui Aragaki (Mix)

Best Supporting Actor: Yusuke Santamaria (Wilderness / The Stand-In Thief)

Best Supporting Actress: Yuki Saito (The Third Murder)

Best Newcomer: Shizuka Ishibashi (The Tokyo Night Sky is Always the Densest Shade of Blue)

Top 10

In addition to its set of individual award winners, the committee also names its ten best pictures of the year which are presented in no particular order.

Wilderness (あゝ、荒野)

wilderness still 1Adapted from the 1966 novel by Shuji Terayama and released in two parts, Yoshiyuki Kishi’s A Double Life followup follows two men who find unexpected friendship while looking for release in the boxing ring.

Outrage Coda (アウトレイジ 最終章)

outrage coda stillThe third and presumably final instalment in the Outrage series, Coda sees actor/director Takeshi Kitano return to the role of Otomo now in exile in South Korea in an attempt to avoid ongoing gang strife at home.

The Tokyo Night Sky is Always the Densest Shade of Blue (夜空はいつでも最高密度の青色だ)

THE TOKYO NIGHT SKY IS ALWAYS THE DENSEST SHADE OF BLUE stillA love/hate letter to Tokyo, Yuya Ishii’s The Tokyo Night Sky is inspired by a collection of poems by Tahi Saihate and follows two lonely city souls as they struggle with their place in a society which they often feel has no place for them. Review.

Birds Without Names (彼女がその名を知らない鳥たち)

birds without names still 2Dawn of the Felines director Kazuya Shiraishi returns to the world of mystery in a tale of dark romance and destructive desires. Yu Aoi stars as a young woman, Towako, living with an older man (played by Sadao Abe) whom she despises but tolerates because he continues to support her. Towako, however, cannot forget a violent ex-lover who has been missing for the last eight years. Screening in the upcoming Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme.

Close-Knit (彼らが本気で編むときは,)

close-knit still 1A departure of sorts from the director’s earlier career, Close-Knit drops the whimsy but not the heart in telling a story of changing family dynamics and pleading for a kinder, more understanding world where all are free to live the way they choose without let or hinderance. Review.

Let Me Eat Your Pancreas (君の膵臓をたべたい)

let me eat your pancreas still 1Sho Tsukikawa adapts Yoru Sumino’s novel in which the unnamed protagonist finds a classmate’s diary and discovers that she is suffering with a terminal illness. The only person to know of her condition outside of her immediate family, the protagonist commits himself to fulfilling her last wishes while she still has time.

Gukoroku – Traces of Sin (愚行録)

gukoroku stillSatoshi Tsumabuki stars as a mild-mannered reporter investigating the murder of a model family while supporting his younger sister (Hikari Mitsushima) who is currently in prison charged with child neglect. Less a murder mystery than a dark social drama, the world of Gukoroku is one defined by unfairness in which pervasive systems of social inequality have destroyed the precious harmony the same society praises so highly. Review.

March Comes in Like a Lion (3月のライオン)

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Shogi is definitely back in fashion at the present moment. Keishi Ohtomo adapts Chica Umino’s popular manga in which an orphaned young man struggles with the regular problems of adolescence whilst also attempting to conquer the famously difficult world of this fiendish game. Review.

The Third Murder (三度目の殺人)

third murder horizontal posterHirokazu Koreeda makes a rare detour from the family drama for a high stakes legal thriller in which a veteran lawyer takes on the seemingly impossible task of defending a murder suspect who has already served time for violent crime and freely confesses his guilt, but the more the lawyer looks into the case the less confident he feels that his client is telling the truth.

Teiichi: Battle of Supreme High (帝一の國)

teiichi stillProlific young actor Masaki Suda stars in Akira Nagai’s adaptation of the manga by Usamaru Furuya in which Japan’s political future is decided at an elite military boarding school. Review.

Source: Eiga Natalie