Not surprisingly, the HKFA was one award ceremony I absolutely was anticipating this year – main reason is of course my idol Jacky Cheung garnering a Best Actor nomination for his role in Heaven in the Dark (and unlike previous years, he was one of the hot favorites this time around). My other reason for watching was for Sean Lau, as he’s one of my favorite actors and this is actually his first time hosting the awards (director and HKFA association chairman Derek Yee said that it took much persuasion to get Sean to agree to host).
I’m sure everyone has read the results of the HKFA and know who the winners are by now, so I’m not going to bother listing out the winners. Instead, I am just going to focus on the categories that I actually cared about as well as the highlights (and low lights) of the ceremony this year.
First up – Best Actor (though ironically this was one of the last awards presented last night). Jacky obviously didn’t win Best Actor (Aaron Kwok won for his role in Port of Call) – if he had won, this post definitely would’ve started with a scream of excitement, lol. While I’m a little bit disappointed that Jacky didn’t win, I was surprisingly not too upset about it, since I sort of anticipated it already (Jacky just doesn’t have the luck when it comes to film awards). Of course, us fans were hoping that the 6th time’s the charm (he was nominated for HKFA Best Actor 5 times previously), but unfortunately it wasn’t meant to be. Well, awards are very much about luck and timing and in a way, all stars need to be aligned, so over the years, I’ve learned not to put too much emotion or attach too much significance to awards. Whether he ever wins the BA award or not, Jacky will always be Best Actor in my heart and I will always support him!
Even though Jacky didn’t win Best Actor, he did win the Best Dressed award alongside his Heaven in the Dark partner Karena Lam, which I felt was well-deserved because he did look extremely handsome last night. The expression on Jacky’s face when his name was announced was absolutely priceless – he was obviously very surprised!
Outside of the Best Actor category, the other category I was interested in was Best Picture. I was actually a bit surprised that Ten Years won given how controversial the movie was, plus the great lengths that Mainland China went to in efforts to suppress the film -- including pulling strings behind the scenes to get all movie theaters to quietly ‘remove’ the film from showing after it became such a surprise hit, as well as Mainland’s latest move of ‘banning’ the HKFA ceremony itself due to Ten Years being nominated (the awards show is usually aired live in Mainland every year, but this year, they released a statement saying that the show won’t be broadcast in China at all). Ten Years is actually one of the movies on my ‘must watch’ list and I was super-happy that it had gotten a nomination at HKFA, though to be honest, I was like 99% sure that it wouldn’t actually win the award, since, in recent years, much of the HK entertainment industry has been reluctant to take on Mainland China head-on, so I figured the HKFA would continue along those same lines and not take the risk of doing something that is widely considered as slapping Mainland China in the face. Well, I was wrong and boy am I glad! This film went through so much and I’m happy that it was able to overcome all the obstacles it did. With that said though, the movie still faces a difficult road ahead, but hopefully its HKFA win can help the movie in this area. The producer was indeed correct when he stated in his acceptance speech that the award actually belongs to all the audiences who supported the film, as they were the ones who turned the previously unknown controversial independent film into a runaway hit. For me though, I actually applaud the HKFA committee members for being so brave and not letting politics influence their decision this time around. Congrats to the cast and crew of Ten Years for a well-deserved win!
Oh and one thing I just had to mention – I saw a lot of comments from pro-China supporters slamming the HKFA and there were quite a few netizens as well as other members of the general public who were ‘pissed’ that Ten Years won and felt it was ‘undeserving’ due to its status as an independent film with a largely unknown cast and ‘no name’ new directors, plus its hugely controversial subject matter. My response to that is – those people’s comments can be ignored because it’s obvious their comments are politically-motivated and they don’t have a clue what movies or artistic creativity are about. If they want to take the HK vs Mainland China thing so seriously (I agree with the sentiment that a lot of times, it’s really Mainland that is making the conflict bigger than it really needs to be), then they are the ones truly missing out. They don’t see us Hong Kongers complaining when Mainland actors and actresses take home the Best Actor and Actress trophies, even when we feel our actors/actresses are more deserving, do they??
Ok, so onto the actual ceremony itself….
Here are my favorite moments from this year’s ceremony:
- Sean Lau’s hosting: he was great! For someone who doesn’t like to talk, he did a pretty good job for his first time. And yes, it was super-sweet that his wife Amy Kwok attended the ceremony just to support her husband (aww, love this couple). I also got a kick out of Sean’s buddy Nick Cheung ‘teasing’ him throughout the ceremony – I actually feel that Nick was the one who laughed the loudest at all of Sean’s jokes, haha.
- The segment where so many former child actors went on stage to talk about the first film they acted in and how old they were at the time. At first, I actually thought this was only a ‘tribute’ segment to child actors, which was very appropriate given this year’s HKFA theme, but it turned out this was a ‘2-in-1’ thing where all of those artists remained onstage to present the Best Director award. I enjoyed seeing so many of those former child actors again, especially the veteran artists who started back in the 1950s and are still active in the industry even now – really admire their dedication to the HK film industry! For me, the other highlight was definitely seeing John Chiang and Paul Chun together on the same stage – the first thought that went through my mind in seeing them was how great it would be if their brother Derek Yee (who was nominated for Best Director that night) was up there too? The Chiang family is one of my (and my family’s) favorite entertainment industry families, so I of course was happy to see Paul, John, and Derek together on the same awards show. Now of course Derek Yee didn’t end up winning (Tsui Hark won instead for The Taking of Tiger Mountain), but it was still an enjoyable – and extremely rare – moment that I will cherish. [Sidenote: I also found it so sweet that Benji and Lesley attended the ceremony to support their dad Paul Chun – when he came out on stage, the camera panned over to Benji and Lesley, who were recording the moment with their cell phones…aww, so sweet! Love this family!]
- Another presenter moment I enjoyed was when McDull (from the McDull cartoon series) and Wu Ba (from the HK hit movie Monster Hunt) went onstage to present the award for Best Visual Effects. Both of them were soooo cute!! And whoever ‘scripted’ their speech did a pretty good job, as their speech was cute and also got quite a few laughs from the audiences.
- Andy Lau presenting the Best Newcomer and Best New Director awards alongside the 5 adorable little girls from the movie Little Big Master was also a nice touch. I actually like it when they have little kids as presenters because it just makes the atmosphere so much lighter and happier (plus everyone is so much more forgiving when the presenters screw up their speeches).
- I had fun with the segment where Jacky and Nick presented the awards for Best Screenplay and Best Action Choreography. They continued to play off their ‘real-life brothers’ relationship right from the getgo, with Nick introducing himself as Jacky. Throughout their presentation speech, they just kept acting silly, even dragging Sean into it at one point (of course, since Sean is one of Nick’s close friends, lol). Jacky and Nick also sat together off-stage as well and there was a lot of interaction between them, which was of course expected given their close friendship. And I swear, based on the number of times the camera panned over to Jacky and Nick, the camera man must be a fan of theirs or something, haha!
- Best presentation speech in my opinion goes to Carina Lau, who presented the award for Best Actor. She did a great job livening the atmosphere and in my opinion, gave a speech that was both witty and fun – she got a lot of well-deserved applause and chuckles, which was definitely needed given that the Best Actor award was the second to last award of the night and everyone had been sitting there for 3 hours straight already. Good job Carina!
- Best acceptance speech in my opinion goes to the production team of Ten Years. As a Hong Konger, I was actually quite moved by their speech, especially the part where they said that the last thing on their minds was that the movie would do well or get any awards – their intention was just to do a little something for HK, their hometown and a city they love. And both producers humbly acknowledged that their film doesn’t measure up to the others in terms of technical standards (of course, since Ten Years was a low-budget independent film whereas all the others were big-budget commercial films), so they were all the more grateful that the HKFA recognized their efforts.
Concluding thoughts: Aside from the issue of not very many ‘big stars’ attending the ceremony outside of the nominees (which, to be honest, has been an ‘issue’ with the HKFAs for like the past decade already), this year’s HKFA ceremony still ended up being one of the better HKFA shows the past few years in my opinion. I enjoyed watching this ceremony more than any other awards show this year.
Congrats to all the winners and hopefully next year will see the emergence of more great films!