The 50 Best Chinese Language Films of the 21st Century

When Film4 published a list of their “100 Must-See Films of the 21st Century” and only bothered to include two Chinese films (Yi yi and In the Mood for Love, of course), I countered with this list on letterboxd of 100 Must-See Chinese Language Films of the 21st Century. Almost two years have passed since then, and I’ve been wanting to update that list, since honestly I was kind of stretching the limits of what I’d recommend when I got into the nineties. Well, yesterday came The Playlist’s list of The 50 Best Foreign Language Films of the 21st Century. Five of the films on their list are Chinese Language (the same obvious Edward Yang and Wong Kar-wai picks, along with Hou Hsiao-hsien’s Millennium Mambo, Tsai Ming-liang’s What Time is It There? and Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. That’s right: no Johnnie To.), and while they’re somewhat hampered by their self-imposed one-film-per-director rules, that, to me, is still an unacceptably low number for what has been and continues to be the most vibrant and fascinating film culture in the world. And today, Richard Brody’s response in the New Yorker, while an improvement in making room for Jia Zhangke and Wang Bing (and Korean director Hong Sangsoo), still has only seven Chinese titles.

So here are my 50 Best Chinese Language Films of the 21st Century. I’m limited in making this list by the movies I’ve seen, and there are still many, many Chinese films I haven’t watched yet. I’m also sticking with The Playlist’s rule and limiting myself to one film per director (in the case of collaborations, I’m counting them as separate directors: Johnnie To and Wai Ka-fai together is a different director from either Johnnie To or Wai Ka-fai individually. This is arbitrary of course). The movies are ranked in order of my current preference, with links to where I’ve written about or discussed them, along with, in some cases, no more than five other recommended films by the director.

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2000 Endy Awards

These are the 2000 Endy Awards, wherein I pretend to give out maneki-neko statues to the best in that year in film. Awards for many other years can be found in the Endy Awards Index. Eligibility is determined by imdb date and by whether or not I’ve seen the movie in question. Nominees are listed in alphabetical order and the winners are bolded. And the Endy goes to. . .

Best Picture:

1. La Commune (Paris 1871)
2. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
3. In the Mood for Love
4. Platform
5. Yi yi

So in a year with four of the most-acclaimed Chinese-language films of all-time (the two that appear on Sight & Sound-type lists, the one that is the only Chinese film to ever get any real Oscar consideration and a favorite among the critical intelligentsia), I’m going with a four hour documentary about a leftist revolt in 19th Century France. I’m unpredictable.

Best Director:

1. Peter Watkins, La Commune (Paris 1871)
2. Ang Lee, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
3. Wong Kar-wai, In the Mood For Love
4. Platform, Jia Zhangke
5. Yi yi, Edward Yang

With Crouching Tiger‘s American popularity came the inevitable backlash from the genre fan corner, with the film’s various Miramaxisms providing easy fodder (why Anglicize one character name? Why? And yes, it wasn’t Miramax who released it, but Sony, still the flattening aesthetic remains the same). But getting beyond all that, the film remains remarkably accomplished, setting a new standard for prestige martial arts films, one to which every subsequent film this century has aspired. Credit for that has to go to Lee (though I’d like to give a special Endy to Yuen Woo-ping for his choreography and action direction as well).

Best Actor:

1. Chow Yun-fat, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
2. Jiang Wen, Devils on the Doorstep
3. Tony Leung, In the Mood for Love
4. Michael Douglas, Wonder Boys
5. Wu Nien-jen, Yi yi

This is Tony Leung’s first Endy win. But I suspect it won’t be his last.

Best Actress:

1. Michelle Yeoh, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
2. Björk, Dancer in the Dark
3. Gillian Anderson, House of Mirth
4. Maggie Cheung, In the Mood for Love
5. Lee Eunju, Virgin Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors

Björk is so good she almost makes me like that movie. All these other actresses are amazing as well. Very strong group this year.

Supporting Actor:

1. Philip Seymour Hoffman, Almost Famous
2. Jack Black, High Fidelity
3. Benicio del Toro, Traffic
4. Robert Downey Jr, Wonder Boys
5. Issei Ogata, Yi yi

Supporting Actress:

1. Parker Posey, Best in Show
2. Zhang Ziyi, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
3. Cheng Pei-pei, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
4. Thandie Newton, Mission: Impossible 2
5. Holly Hunter, O Brother Where Art Thou?

I’m following the Oscar convention of categorizing Zhang as Supporting, but isn’t she really the lead? Anyway, this way I can nominate more folks in the lead category this year, when it’s much richer than the supporting group. Zhang will win Best Actress in 2004 and just miss winning it again in 2013.

Original Screenplay:

1. Peter Watkins & Agathe Bluysen, La Commune (Paris 1871)
2. Wong Kar-wai, In the Mood for Love
3. Jia Zhangke, Platform
4. Hong Sangsoo, Virgin Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors
5. Edward Yang, Yi yi

This is Hong Sangsoo’s sixth Original Screenplay nomination. He’ll be nominated five times in six years from 2008-2013, winning in 2010.

Adapted Screenplay:

1. James Schamus, Wang Hui-Ling & Tsai Kuo-Jung, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon
2. Jiang Wen, Shi Ping, Shi Jianquan & You Fengwei, Devils on the Doorstep
3. Terence Davies, House of Mirth
4. Joel & Ethan Coen, O Brother Where Art Thou?
5. Steve Kloves, Wonder Boys

Top to bottom, this is the strongest Adapted Screenplay group since 2009.

Non-English Language Film:

1. La Commune (Paris 1871) (Peter Watkins)
2. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Ang Lee)
3. In the Mood for Love (Wong Kar-wai)
4. Platform (Jia Zhangke)
5. Yi yi (Edward Yang)

This is the first time in Endy history that this category is identical to the Best Picture category, meaning no English language film got a Picture nomination. In fact, House of Mirth and O Brother, Where Art Thou? only barely sneak into my Top 10 for the year.

Documentary Film:

1. La Commune (Paris 1871) (Peter Watkins)
2. Jeff Buckley: Live in Chicago

Animated Film:

1. Chicken Run (Nick Park & Peter Lord)
2. Escaflowne: The Movie (Kazuki Akane)

Short Film:

1. The Heart of the World (Guy Maddin)

Unseen Film:

1. Eureka (Shinji Aoyama)
2. JSA: Joint Security Area (Park Chanwook)
3. Requiem for a Dream (Darren Aronofsky)
4. Werckmeister Harmonies (Béla Tarr & Ágnes Hranitzky)
5. The Yards (James Gray)

Also receiving votes: Suzhou River (Lou Ye), Sexy Beast (Jonathan Glazer), The Vertical Ray of the Sun (Anh Hung Tran), and Barking Dogs Never Bite (Bong Joonho).

Film Editing:

1. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
2. The Heart of the World
3. In the Mood for Love
4. Tears of the Black Tiger
5. Time and Tide

Cinematography:

1. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
2. The Heart of the World
3. In the Mood for Love
4. Tears of the Black Tiger
5. Yi yi

Art Direction:

1. La Commune (Paris 1871)
2. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
3. The Heart of the World
4. Songs from the Second Floor
5. Tears of the Black Tiger

A revolution in a soundstage cavern.

Costume Design:

1. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
2. In the Mood for Love
3. O Brother, Where Art Thou?
4. Platform
5. Tears of the Black Tiger

Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung’s outfits create at least 75% of the romance in their film.

Make-up:

1. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
2. Help!!!
3. O Brother, Where Art Thou?
4. Tears of the Black Tiger
5. X-Men

Original Score:

1. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
2. Dancer in the Dark
3. The Heart of the World
4. Needing You. . .
5. Time and Tide

Tough call here, but while I love Björk, Tan Dun is absolutely essential to Crouching Tiger. Possibly the best integration of music into a martial arts film ever.

Adapted Score:

1. High Fidelity
2. In the Mood for Love
3. O Brother Where Art Thou?
4. Platform
5. Tears of the Black Tiger

Original Song:

1. “In the Musicals”, Björk, Dancer in the Dark
2. “I’ve Seen It All”, Björk, Dancer in the Dark
3. “Gan Qing Xian Sang”, Sammi Cheng, Needing You. . .
4. “Things Have Changed”, Bob Dylan, Wonder Boys

Bob Dylan won the Oscar this year, which is great because Yay Bob! But much better than his song was his performance of it on the award show, remote from Australia, he kept sidling up to the camera for an extreme close-up of his Cesar Romero mustache. It was hilarious.

Sound:

1. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
2. In the Mood for Love
3. Platform
4. Tears of the Black Tiger
5. Yi yi

Sound Editing:

1. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
2. Gladiator
3. Mission: Impossible 2
4. The Perfect Storm
5. Tears of the Black Tiger

Visual Effects:

1. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
2. Gladiator
3. The Heart of the World
4. Mission to Mars
5. The Perfect Storm

2001 Endy Awards

These are the 2001 Endy Awards, wherein I pretend to give out maneki-neko statues to the best in that year in film. Awards for many other years can be found in the Endy Awards Index. Eligibility is determined by imdb date and by whether or not I’ve seen the movie in question. Nominees are listed in alphabetical order and the winners are bolded. And the Endy goes to. . .

Best Picture:

1. Millennium Mambo
2. Mulholland Dr.
3. The Royal Tenenbaums
4. Spirited Away
5. What Time is it There?

This is Hou Hsiao-hsien’s second Endy for Best Picture (Flight of the Red Balloon in 2007) and it won’t be his last. Millennium Mambo isn’t generally considered one of Hou’s best, but it was the first of his films that I saw and it remains my favorite many years and rewatches later. We discussed it on the Hou Hsiao-hsien episode of They Shot Pictures and I wrote about it at Seattle Screen Scene.

Best Director:

1. Peter Jackson, The Fellowship of the Ring
2. Hou Hsiao-hsien, Millennium Mambo
3. David Lynch, Mulholland Dr.
4. Wes Anderson, The Royal Tenenbaums
5. Hayao Miyazaki, Spirited Away

Lynch just edges out Hou.

Best Actor:

1. Haley Joel Osment, AI: Artificial Intelligence
2. Gene Hackman, The Royal Tenenbaums
3. Stephen Chow, Shaolin Soccer
4. Vincent Gallo, Trouble Every Day
5. Lee Kang-sheng, What Time is it There?

Best Actress:

1. Audrey Tautou, Amélie
2. Sammi Cheng, Love on a Diet
3. Shu Qi, Millennium Mambo
4. Nicole Kidman, The Others
5. Naomi Watts, Mulholland Dr.

Love the actress category this year, lots of great choices. Not so much with the actors though. Vincent Gallo gets the Endy because I’m convinced no one is really as creepy as he is in Trouble Every Day and so therefore it must be a great performance.

Supporting Actor:

1. Jude Law, AI: Artificial Intelligence
2. Ian McKellen, The Fellowship of the Ring
3. Viggo Mortensen, The Fellowship of the Ring
4. Justin Theroux, Mulholland Dr.
5. Owen Wilson, The Royal Tenenbaums

“You shall not pass!”

Supporting Actress:

1. Laura Harring, Mulholland Dr.
2. Gwyneth Paltrow, The Royal Tenenbaums
3. Béatrice Dalle, Trouble Every Day
4. Penélope Cruz, Vanilla Sky
5. Christine Taylor, Zoolander

Did you know that Christine Taylor played the Parker Posey role in the short-lived TV series adaptation of Party Girl?

Original Screenplay:

1. Chu Tien-wen, Millennium Mambo
2. David Lynch, Mulholland Dr.
3. Wes Anderson & Owen Wilson, The Royal Tenenbaums
4. Hayao Miyazaki, Spirited Away
5. Michael Showalter & David Wain, Wet Hot American Summer

Adapted Screenplay:

1. Steven Spielberg & Ian Watson, AI: Artificial Intelligence
2. Ken Nolan, Black Hawk Down
3. Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens & Peter Jackson, The Fellowship of the Ring
4. Wai Ka-fai & Joey O’Bryan, Fulltime Killer
5. Cameron Crowe, Vanilla Sky

I’d award every one of the Original Screenplay nominees before any of the Adapted ones, and a few more besides.

Non-English Language Film:

1. Millennium Mambo (Hou Hsiao-hsien)
2. Running Out of Time 2 (Johnnie To & Law Wing-cheong)
3. Shaolin Soccer (Stephen Chow)
4. Spirited Away (Hayao Miyazaki)
5. What Time is it There? (Tsai Ming-liang)

Documentary Film:

1. If I Should Fall from Grace (Sarah Share)

This film about The Pogues frontman Shane MacGowan appears to be the only documentary I’ve seen from 2001. It’s great though, and would be award-worthy in many other years.

Animated Film:

1. Knocking on Heaven’s Door (Shinichirô Watanabe)
2. Metropolis (Rentaro)
3. Monsters, Inc., (Pete Docter)
4. Spirited Away (Hayao Miyazaki)
5. Waking Life (Richard Linklater)

Unseen Film:

1. In Praise of Love (Jean-Luc Godard)
2. Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India (Ashutosh Gowariker)
3. The Lady & the Duke (Eric Rohmer)
4. Millennium Actress (Satoshi Kon)
5. Warm Water Under a Bridge (Shohei Imamura)

Also receiving votes: Pulse (Kiyoshi Kurosawa), Donnie Darko (Richard Kelly), The Happiness of the Katakuris and Ichi the Killer (Takashi Miike), Va savoir (Jacques Rivette).

Film Editing:

1. Ali
2. Millennium Mambo
3. Mulholland Dr.
4. The Royal Tenenbaums
5. Spirited Away

A lot of distinct editing approaches this year: the musical trance rhythms of memory (Ali, Millennium Mambo), carefully calibrated shocks and discordances (Mulholland Dr.), an excited buildup to an unexpectedly mellow climax (Spirited Away). I’m giving the award to Tenenbaums, though, for its deft juggling of so many characters and moods into a surprisingly cohesive whole.

Cinematography:

1. Ali
2. Amélie
3. Millennium Mambo
4. Mulholland Dr.
5. The Royal Tenenbaums

The camera in Mambo is in constant motion, floating back and forth, up and down as it traces the remembered life of a depressed young woman, but it never moves in or out: it can’t get any closer to her, and can’t pull away.

Art Direction:

1. AI: Artificial Intelligence
2. The Fellowship of the Ring
3. Moulin Rouge!
4. The Royal Tenenbaums
5. Spirited Away

“You have my bow.” “And my axe!”

Costume Design:

1. The Fellowship of the Ring
2. Love on a Diet
3. Moulin Rouge!
4. The Royal Tenenbaums
5. Wet Hot American Summer

Make-up:

1. AI: Artificial Intelligence
2. The Fellowship of the Ring
3. Love on a Diet
4. Moulin Rouge!
5. Zoolander

With six Endys this year and two more in 2002 for The Two Towers (and none for Return of the King), that makes eight for Peter Jackson’s epic trilogy, the dominant film force of the first half of the first decade of the century, somewhat tarnished now by poorly received sequels. Fellowship remains my favorite of the series.

Original Score:

1. All About Lily Chou-chou
2. Amélie
3. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
4. Knocking on Heaven’s Door
5. Millennium Mambo

Spirited Away just misses the cut here. This is the third Endy for composer Lim Giong. He will win in 2004 for The World and 2013 for A Touch of Sin.

Adapted Score:

1. If I Should Fall from Grace
2. Moulin Rouge!
3. Mulholland Dr.
4. The Royal Tenenbaums
5. Vanilla Sky

Sound:

1. Ali
2. AI: Artificial Intelligence
3. Millennium Mambo
4. Mulholland Dr.
5. What Time is it There?

Sound Editing:

1. Ali
2. AI: Artificial Intelligence
3. Black Hawk Down
4. The Fellowship of the Ring
5. Pearl Harbor

Visual Effects:

1. AI: Artificial Intelligence
2. The Fellowship of the Ring
3. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
4. Shaolin Soccer
5. Zu Warriors

I’m betraying a bias towards the low-fi with nominations for Soccer and especially Zu over slicker products like Black Hawk Down or Amélie. But what can I say, I’m a product of the 80s, where fun and inventive weirdness were more important than verisimilitude.

2002 Endy Awards

These are the 2002 Endy Awards, wherein I pretend to give out maneki-neko statues to the best in that year in film. Awards for many other years can be found in the Endy Awards Index. Eligibility is determined by imdb date and by whether or not I’ve seen the movie in question. Nominees are listed in alphabetical order and the winners are bolded. And the Endy goes to. . .

Best Picture:

1. Blissfully Yours
2. Hero
3. Morvern Callar
4. My Left Eye Sees Ghosts
5. Punch-Drunk Love

Best Director:

1. Claire Denis, Friday Night
2. Zhang Yimou, Hero
3. Lynne Ramsay, Morvern Callar
4. Johnnie To & Wai Ka-fai, My Left Eye Sees Ghosts
5. Paul Thomas Anderson, Punch-Drunk Love

Despite another pair of terrific films this year (that makes nine he directed in the three years 2002-2004), Johnnie To does not pick up his fourth Best Director Endy this year. I’ve come all the way back around on Zhang Yimou’s Hero, after years of moving it steadily down my list, a fresh watch has reconfirmed for me its singular greatness.

Best Actor:

1. Steve Coogan, 24 Hour Party People
2. Nicholas Cage, Adaptation
3. Tony Leung, Infernal Affairs
4. Andy Lau, Infernal Affairs
5. Adam Sandler, Punch-Drunk Love

Lau and Leung also gave terrific performances in comedies this year (Fat Choi Spirit and Chinese Odyssey 2002), but I’m going with their redefinitions of the cop/triad genre icons for their nominations.

Best Actress:

1. Jenjira Pongpas, Blissfully Yours
2. Sandra Ng, Golden Chicken
3. Samantha Morton, Morvern Callar
4. Sammi Cheng, My Left Eye Sees Ghosts
5. Thandie Newton, The Truth About Charlie

Very difficult race here between Cheng and Ng’s iconic performance as the prostitute who embodies the entirety of modern Hong Kong history. Both wring remarkable depth out of ultimately silly scenarios, but where Ng is funnier, Cheng is more soulful.

Supporting Actor:

1. Philip Seymour Hoffman, Punch-Drunk Love
2. Lau Ching-wan, My Left Eye Sees Ghosts
3. Daniel Day-Lewis, Gangs of New York
4. Tony Leung, Hero
5. Anthony Wong, Infernal Affairs

This is Daniel Day-Lewis’s second Endy. He will have won in 2007 for There Will Be Blood.

Supporting Actress:

1. Isabelle Huppert, 8 Women
2. Ludivine Sagnier, 8 Women
3. Meryl Streep, Adaptation
4. Maggie Cheung, Hero
5. Emily Watson, Punch-Drunk Love

Original Screenplay:

1. Jeffrey Lau, Chinese Odyssey 2002
2. Samson Chiu & Matt Chow, Golden Chicken
3. Wai Ka-fai, Yau Nai-hoi & Au Kin-yee, My Left Eye Sees Ghosts
4. Hong Sangsoo, On the Occasion of Remembering the Turning Gate
5. Paul Thomas Anderson, Punch-Drunk Love

Back-to-back wins for Wai, Yau & Au. They won in 2003 (along with Yip Tin-shing) for Running on Karma.

Adapted Screenplay:

1. David Benioff, 25th Hour
2. Charlie & Donald Kaufman, Adaptation
3. Claire Denis & Emmanuèle Bernheim, Friday Night
4. Scott Frank & Jon Cohen, Minority Report
5. Lynne Ramsay & Liana Dognini, Morvern Callar

Is there anything more Charlie Kaufman than the fact that the Academy nominated his fictional twin brother for an Oscar, but then gave the award to a Holocaust movie?

Non-English Language Film:

1. Blissfully Yours (Apichatpong Weerasethakul)
2. Hero (Zhang Yimou)
3. Golden Chicken (Samson Chiu)
4. My Left Eye Sees Ghosts (Johnnie To & Wai Ka-fai)
5. Russian Ark (Alexander Sokurov)

Documentary Film:

1. Bowling for Columbine (Michael Moore)
2. Century of the Self (Adam Curtis)
3. Slow Century (Lance Bangs)
4. Spellbound (Jeffrey Blitz)
5. Woody Allen: A Life in Film (Richard Schickel)

Animated Film:

1. Ice Age (Chris Wedge)
2. Mike’s New Car (Pete Docter & Roger Gould)

Unseen Film:

1. Femme Fatale (Brian DePalma)
2. One Hour Photo (Mark Romanek)
3. Funny Ha Ha (Andrew Bujalski)
4. So Close (Corey Yuen)
5. The Son (The Dardenne Brothers)

Some other good stuff not nominated, films by Nuri Bilge Ceylan and Lee Changdong in particular.

Film Editing:

1. The Century of the Self
2. Infernal Affairs
3. Morvern Callar
4. My Left Eye Sees Ghosts
5. Punch-Drunk Love

Cinematography:

1. Friday Night
2. Hero
3. Morvern Callar
4. Punch-Drunk Love
5. Russian Ark

Tough to leave out Far from Heaven, the House of Flying Daggers of suburban melodramas. Russian Ark has the better gimmick, but Hero is supernaturally gorgeous.

Art Direction:

1. Gangs of New York
2. Hero
3. Minority Report
4. Russian Ark
5. The Two Towers

Costume Design:

1. Catch Me If You Can
2. Far from Heaven
3. Gangs of New York
4. Hero
5. Russian Ark

Make-up:

1. 28 Days Later
2. Attack of the Clones
3. Gangs of New York
4. Resident Evil
5. The Two Towers

Original Score:

1. Catch Me If You Can
2. Friday Night
3. Hero
4. My Left Eye Sees Ghosts
5. Punch-Drunk Love

Adapted Score:

1. 8 Mile
2. 8 Women
3. 24 Hour Party People
4. Morvern Callar
5. Punch-Drunk Love

“He Needs Me”.

Sound:

1. Blissfully Yours
2. Morvern Callar
3. Punch-Drunk Love
4. Russian Ark
5. The Two Towers

Sound Editing:

1. Attack of the Clones
2. Minority Report
3. Resident Evil
4. Spider-Man
5. The Two Towers

Visual Effects:

1. Attack of the Clones
2. Hero
3. Minority Report
4. Resident Evil
5. The Two Towers

Sure, Flying Yoda is pretty silly, but that opening chase sequence is still great.

2003 Endy Awards

These are the 2003 Endy Awards, wherein I pretend to give out maneki-neko statues to the best in that year in film. Awards for many other years can be found in the Rankings & Awards Index. Eligibility is determined by imdb date and by whether or not I’ve seen the movie in question. Nominees are listed in alphabetical order and the winners are bolded. And the Endy goes to. . .

 

Best Picture:

1. Goodbye, Dragon Inn
2. Last Life in the Universe
3. Los Angeles Plays Itself
4. PTU
5. Running on Karma

I’ve had PTU in the top spot here for years, but the more I think about Running on Karma, the more I think it may be the best of all of Johnnie To’s films.

Best Director:

1. Johnnie To, PTU
2. Johnnie To & Wai Ka-fai, Running on Karma
3. Thom Andersen, Los Angeles Plays Itself
4. Tsai Ming-liang, Goodbye, Dragon Inn
5. Pen-Ek Ratanaruang, Last Life in the Universe

I suggested in a note on the 2004 Awards that Johnnie To that year, with three films in my personal Top Ten of the year, might have had the best year of any director since John Ford in 1939. Well, actually he had the best year of any director since Johnnie To in 2003. Three films co-directed with Wai Ka-fai and then a solo effort, one of his very best, thrown in on top. That makes seven films in two calendar years. This is To’s third Best Director Endy. He also won in 2006 and 2008.

Best Actor:

1. Ewan MacGregor, Down with Love
2. Tadanobu Asano, Last Life in the Universe
3. Bill Murray, Lost in Translation
4. Johnny Depp, Pirates of the Caribbean
5. Andy Lau, Running on Karma

Best Actress:

1. Renée Zellweger, Down with Love
2. Sandra Ng, Golden Chicken 2
3. Meg Ryan, In the Cut
4. Scarlett Johansson, Lost in Translation
5. Cecilia Cheung, Running on Karma

Supporting Actor:

1. Lau Kar-leung, Drunken Monkey
2. Sonny Chiba, Kill Bill Vol. 1
3. Simon Yam, Looking for Mr. Perfect
4. Will Farrell, Old School
5. Lam Suet, PTU

Supporting Actress:

1. Anna Kendrick, Camp
2. Cate Blanchett, Coffee and Cigarettes
3. Lucy Liu, Kill Bill Vol. 1
4. Sinitta Boonyasak, Last Life in the Universe
5. Joan Cusack, School of Rock

A couple of awards here for two of the greatest supporting performers of the last few decades.


Original Screenplay: 

1. Eve Ahlert & Dennis Drake, Down with Love
2. Pen-Ek Ratanaruang & Prabda Yoon, Last Life in the Universe
3. Thom Andersen, Los Angeles Plays Itself
4. Wai Ka-fai, Yau Nai-hoi, Yip Tin-shing & Au Kin-yi, Running on Karma
5. Sylvain Chomet, The Triplets of BellevilleAdapted Screenplay:

1. James Yuen, Aubrey Lam & Mark Cheung, Golden Chicken 2
2. James Schamus, John Turman & Michael France, Hulk
3. Jane Campion & Susanna Moore, In the Cut
4. Wai Ka-fai, Yau Nai-hoi, Yip Tin-shing & Au Kin-yi, Turn Left, Turn Right
5. Peter Weir & John Collee, Master and Commander

Wai, Yau, Yip and Au, the heart of the Milkyway writing team, earn the rare feat of being nominated in both Original and Adapted Screenplay in the same year. The Adapted award goes to the continuing adventures of everyone’s favorite prostitute/walking avatar of contemporary Hong Kong history and culture.

Non-English Language Film:

1. Café Lumière (Hou Hsiao-hsien)
2. Goodbye, Dragon Inn (Tsai Ming-liang)
3. Last Life in the Universe (Pen-Ek Ratanaruang)
4. PTU (Johnnie To)
5. Running on Karma (Johnnie To & Wai Ka-fai)

Documentary Film:

1. A Decade Under the Influence (Ted Demme & Richard LaGravenese)
2. The Corporation (Mark Achbar & Jennifer Abbott)
3. The Fog of War (Errol Morris)
4. Los Angeles Plays Itself (Thom Andersen)
5. Wheel of Time (Werner Herzog)

Animated Film:

1. The Animatrix (Various)
2. Finding Nemo (Andrew Stanton)
3. The Triplets of Belleville (Sylvain Chomet)

Unseen Film:

1. Bad Boys 2 (Michael Bay)
2. The Best of Youth (Marco Tullio Giordana)
3. The Dreamers (Bernardo Bertolucci)
4. Elephant (Gus Van Sant)
5. Memories of Murder (Bong Joon-ho)


Film Editing: 

1. Kill Bill Vol. 1
2. Los Angeles Plays Itself
3. Master and Commander
4. PTU
5. Running on KarmaCinematography:

1. Café Lumière
2. Kill Bill Vol. 1
3. Last Life in the Universe
4. Master and Commander
5. PTU

Johnnie To’s signature blacks shot through with intense white spotlights have never looked better, turning the HK night into an ideal stage for his cops-in-a-chaotic-universe morality play.

Art Direction:

1. Down with Love
2. Kill Bill Vol. 1
3. Master and Commander
4. Pirates of the Caribbean
5. Return of the King

Costume Design:

1. Down with Love
2. Kill Bill Vol. 1
3. Pirates of the Caribbean
4. Return of the King
5. Running on Karma

Make-up:

1. Kill Bill Vol. 1
2. Master and Commander
3. Pirates of the Caribbean
4. Return of the King
5. Running on Karma

Original Score:

1. Down with Love
2. Master and Commander
3. Pirates of the Caribbean
4. PTU
5. The Triplets of Belleville

The guitar-heavy score gives PTU an added layer of meaning, evoking the classic rock era in general and the Vietnam War in particular.

Adapted Score:

1. Down with Love
2. Kill Bill Vol. 1
3. Lost in Translation
4. Masked and Anonymous
5. School of Rock

Tough call here, I thought I’d go with Tarantino, but Dylan covers “Dixie” so yeah.

Sound:

1. Goodbye, Dragon Inn
2. Kill Bill Vol. 1
3. Master and Commander
4. Pirates of the Caribbean
5. PTU

Maybe I don’t know what this category is supposed to mean, but the sounds of Tsai Ming-liang’s theatre mean as much to me as anything in any film from this year.

Sound Editing:

1. Kill Bill Vol. 1
2. Master and Commander
3. Pirates of the Caribbean
4. PTU
5. Return of the King

Visual Effects:

1. Hulk
2. Looney Tunes: Back in Action
3. Master and Commander
4. Pirates of the Caribbean
5. Return of the King

Love those ships.

2004 Endy Awards

These are the 2004 Endy Awards, wherein I pretend to give out maneki-neko statues to the best in that year in film. Awards for many other years can be found in the Rankings & Awards Index. Eligibility is determined by imdb date and by whether or not I’ve seen the movie in question. Nominees are listed in alphabetical order and the winners are bolded. And the Endy goes to. . .

Best Picture:


1. Kung Fu Hustle
2. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
3. Throw Down
4. Tropical Malady
5. 2046

For a long time I’ve had Wong Kar-wai’s career-summarizing masterpiece in the top spot for 2004. But come Endy-time here, I’m feeling a bit iconoclastic, a bit in the mood to shake things up. So I’m going with Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s folkloric slow cinema romance in the upset.

Best Director:

1. Stephen Chow, Kung Fu Hustle
2. Johnnie To, Throw Down
3. Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Tropical Malady
4. Wong Kar-wai, 2046
5. Jia Zhangke, The World

If you assign a film a number of stars based on quality, say 1-5, and then add up the total number of stars accumulated by a director in a given calendar year, I suspect that Johnnie To in 2004 earned more stars in one year than any director since John Ford in 1939. However, due to a rule change in 2015, I’m no longer considering multiple films for a single nomination, and so the Endy goes to Apichatpong Weerasethakul, despite To being responsible for three of my ten favorite films of the year.

Best Actor:

1. Will Farrell, Anchorman
2. Lau Ching-wan, Fantasia
3. Bill Murray, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
4. Denzel Washington, Man on Fire
5. Tony Leung, 2046

Best Actress:

1. Julie Delpy, Before Sunset
2. Zhang Ziyi, 2046
3. Uma Thurman, Kill Bill Vol. 2
4. Emmanuelle Devos, Kings and Queen
5. Sylvia Chang, 20 30 40

Supporting Actor:

1. David Carradine, Kill Bill Vol. 2
2. Mathieu Amalric, Kings and Queen
3. Willem Dafoe, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
4. Yuen Wah, Kung Fu Hustle
5. Sakda Kaewbuadee, Tropical Malady

Supporting Actress:

1. Cate Blanchett, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
2. Angelica Lee, 20 30 40
3. Yuen Qiu, Kung Fu Hustle
4. Cherie Ying, Throw Down
5. Faye Wong, 2046


Original Screenplay:

1. Will Farrell & Adam McKay, Anchorman
2. Stephen Chow, Huo Xin, Chan Man-keung & Tsang Kan-cheung, Kung Fu Hustle
3. Wes Anderson & Noah Baumbach, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
4. Yau Nai-hoi, Yip Tin-shing & Au Kin-yee, Throw Down
5. Wong Kar-wai, 2046

Adapted Screenplay:

1. Guillermo del Toro & Peter Briggs, Hellboy
2. Hayao Miyazaki, Howl’s Moving Castle
3. Claire Denis & Jean-pol Fargeau, L’Intrus
4. Brian Helgeland, Man on Fire
5. Tina Fey, Mean Girls

Some funny scripts this year. Maybe it’s just me and my weird taste as a cinephile, but it does seem like good adapted screenplays are increasingly rare. Every year I really have to scrounge to find five good ones. Whereas I’m devastated at having to leave Tropical Malady off the nominee list for Original Screenplay.


Non-English Language Film:
 
1. Kung Fu Hustle
2. Throw Down
3. Tropical Malady
4. 2046
5. The World

Documentary Film:

1. Be Here to Love Me: A Film About Townes Van Zandt
2. Fahrenheit 9/11
3. Henri Langlois: Phantom of the Cinematheque
4. The Hunting of the President
5. The Power of Nightmares


Remember when there was a horribly mediocre anti-Bush documentary coming out every other week in 2004? I do. Fortunately, Adam Curtis made a great one.

Animated Film: 

1. Howl’s Moving Castle (Hayao Miyazaki)

2. The Incredibles (Brad Bird)

Unseen Film:

1. Birth (Jonathan Glazer)
2. Clean (Olivier Assayas)
3. Dumplings (Fruit Chan)
4. Nobody Knows (Koreeda Hirokazu)
5. Notre musique (Jean-Luc Godard)

Film Editing:

1. Kung Fu Hustle
2. Man on Fire
3. Throw Down
4. Tropical Malady
5. 2046

Cinematography:
 
1. Breaking News
2. Collateral
3. Man on Fire
4. 2046
5. The World

Art Direction:

1. House of Flying Daggers
2. Kung Fu Hustle
3. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
4. 2046
5. The World

Steve Zissou’s boat wins out over Zhang Yimou’s rococo brothel.

Costume Design:

1. Alexander
2. Hellboy
3. House of Flying Daggers
4. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
5. 2046

Zhang Ziyi’s impossible sleeves win out over Steve Zissou’s red cap and Speedo.

Make-up:

1. Hellboy
2. House of Flying Daggers3. Kill Bill Vol. 2
4. Kung Fu Hustle
5. Shaun of the Dead

Original Score:

1. House of Flying Daggers
2. The Incredibles
3. L’Intrus
4. Kung Fu Hustle
5. The World


When in doubt, go with Lim Giong.

Adapted Score:

1. Garden State
2. Kill Bill Vol. 2
3. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
4. Le Pont des Arts
5. Shaun of the Dead


Sound:

1. Kill Bill Vol. 2
2. Kung Fu Hustle
3. L’Intrus
4. 2046
5. Tropical Malady


Sound Editing:

1. Hellboy
2. The Incredibles
3. Kill Bill Vol. 2
4. Kung Fu Hustle
5. Spider-Man 2


Visual Effects:

1. Alexander
2. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
3. Hellboy
4. Kung Fu Hustle
5. Resident Evil: Apocalypse

2005 Endy Awards

These are the 2005 Endy Awards, wherein I pretend to give out maneki-neko statues to the best in that year in film. Awards for many other years can be found in the Rankings & Awards Index. Eligibility is determined by imdb date and by whether or not I’ve seen the movie in question. Nominees are listed in alphabetical order and the winners are bolded. And the Endy goes to. . .


Best Picture:

1. A History of Violence
2. Linda Linda Linda
3. The New World
4. Oxhide
5. Three Times

Best Director:

1. Cristi Puiu, The Death of Mr. Lazarescu
2. Nobuhiro Yamashita, Linda Linda Linda
3. Terrence Malick, The New World
4. Liu Jiayin, Oxhide
5. Hou Hsiao-hsien, Three Times

Terrence Malick’s story of the discovery of America by Europeans, and of the discovery of Europeans by America is probably my favorite film of the 21st Century thus far.

Best Actor:

1. Heath Ledger, Brokeback Mountain
2. Simon Yam, Election
3. Viggo Mortensen, A History of Violence
4. Liu Zaiping, Oxhide
5. Steve Coogan, Tristram Shandy

Best Actress:

1. Luminiţa Gheorghiu, The Death of Mr. Lazarescu
2. Bae Doona, Linda Linda Linda
3. Q’orianka Kilcher, The New World
4. Zhou Xun, Perhaps Love
5. Shu Qi, Three Times

Supporting Actor:

1. Tony Leung Ka-fai, Election
2. Jacky Cheung, Perhaps Love
3. Ian McDiarmid, Revenge of the Sith
4. Mickey Rourke, Sin City
5. Jeff Daniels, The Squid & the Whale

Veteran Hong Kong actor and Cantopop star Jacky Cheung plays the movie director third of Peter Chan’s lush meta-musical love triangle melodrama.

Supporting Actress:

1. Michelle Williams, Brokeback Mountain
2. Maria Bello, A History of Violence
3. Yû Kashii, Linda Linda Linda
4. Aki Maeda, Linda Linda Linda
5. Uhm Ji-won, Tale of Cinema

Original Screenplay:

1. Kôsuke Mukai, Wakako Miyashita & Nobuhiro Yamashita, Linda Linda Linda
2. Terrence Malick, The New World
3. Liu Jiayin, Oxhide
4. Yoshio Urasawa, Princess Raccoon
5. Chu Tien-wen & Hou Hsiao-hsien, Three Times

Adapted Screenplay:

1. Larry McMurtry & Diana Ossana, Brokeback Mountain
2. Josh Olson, A History of Violence
3. Shane Black, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
4. Tony Kushner & Eric Roth, Munich
5. Frank Cottrell Boyce, Tristram Shandy

Not a fan of the Adapted Screenplay category this year. There were probably another four or five original screenplays I would have rather nominated than some of these. Still, Tristram Shandy made me laugh, so that’s good.

Non-English Language Film:

1. Election (Johnnie To)
2. Linda Linda Linda (Nobuhiro Yamashita)
3. Oxhide (Liu Jiayin)
4. Perhaps Love (Peter Chan)
5. Three Times (Hou Hsiao-hsien)

Documentary Film:

1. The Aristocrats (Paul Provenza)
2. Dave Chappelle’s Block Party (Michel Gondry)
3. Grizzly Man (Werner Herzog)
4. My Dad is 100 Years Old (Isabella Rossellini)
5. No Direction Home (Martin Scorsese)

I continue to believe that this is Michel Gondry’s best film.

Animated Film:

1. 9 (Shane Acker)
2. The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (Nick Park & Steve Box)
3. One Man Band (Mark Andrews & Andrew Jimenez)

Unseen Film:

1. A Bittersweet Life (Kim Jee-woon)
2. L’enfant (The Dardennes)
3. Last Days (Gus Van Sant)
4. Pride & Prejudice (Joe Wright)
5. The Wayward Cloud (Tsai Ming-liang)

Film Editing:

1. Domino
2. Election
3. The New World
4. Perhaps Love
5. Three Times

Cinematography:

1. Domino
2. King Kong
3. The New World
4. Perhaps Love
5. Three Times

Art Direction:

1. King Kong
2. The New World
3. Princess Raccoon
4. Seven Swords
5. Three Times

Seijun Suzuki’s musical starring Zhang Ziyi is one of the weirdest films of the decade, and its stage is essential to its charm.

Costume Design:

1. Kingdom of Heaven
2. Munich
3. The New World
4. Princess Raccoon
5. Seven Swords

Make-up:

1. Domino
2. Kingdom of Heaven
3. Revenge of the Sith
4. Seven Swords
5. Sin City

Original Score:

1. Brokeback Mountain
2. Broken Flowers
3. Linda Linda Linda
4. Perhaps Love
5. Princess Raccoon

Giving the nod to Perhaps Love‘s array of musical styles (big Broadway tunes, operetta-style monologues, pop ballads) over Princess Raccoon‘s folk eclecticism and Brokeback Mountain‘s groovy guitar.

Adapted Score:

1. Dave Chappelle’s Block Party
2. Linda Linda Linda
3. The New World
4. No Direction Home
5. Walk the Line

Japanese punk over Dylan, Wagner, Johnny Cash and one awesome concert.

Sound:

1. Domino
2. The New World
3. Perhaps Love
4. Three Times
5. The War of the Worlds

Sound Editing:

1. Domino
2. King Kong
3. Revenge of the Sith
4. Serenity
5. The War of the Worlds

Visual Effects:

1. Himalaya Singh
2. King Kong
3. Revenge of the Sith
4. Serenity
5. The War of the Worlds

True story: when I was watching King Kong, the Empire State Building sequence, which I knew was totally fake, all special effects, was dizzying enough that it gave me an attack of vertigo and I had to watch the rest of the film lying on the floor. That’s what the Endys are all about.