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

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Animation of the Year

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  • 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

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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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  • 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

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  • 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)

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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