February 1, 2006

What does a Chinese language movie have to do to get some Oscar recognition?

Back in the day, the Oscars gave at least some nods to European talent. For example, Federico Fellini earned a dozen Oscar nominations (four for Directing, eight in the two screenwriting categories). These days, cinematically, the Europeans are in decline, but the Chinese are ascendant. Yet, In 2004, the stunning "Hero" received no nominations, and this year Wong Kar-Wai's exquisite "2046" was shut out. Most unjustly, the Australian lensman Christopher Doyle, who shot both Chinese films and is usually considered the greatest cinematographer in the world, has yet to receive even a single Oscar nomination in his career. By way of contrast, "Memoirs of a Geisha," which is in style a sort of wan tribute to the new Chinese cinema, received six nominations in the technical categories.

"Hero" was ineligible last year, even though it earned a strong $57 million in the North American market after being released in August of 2004 because it had previously been nominated as Best Foreign Film in 2002 and lost to some Holocaust-related film. This year, "2046" may have been ineligible because an earlier version was screened at Cannes in 2004. The point is that the Academy should rethink its rules to stop excluding the best foreign films. (Of course, from the Academy's perspective, their reply might be, "If they want to get nominated, let them move to Hollywood like Ang Lee.")

Okay, I know that Zhang Yimou's lame follow-up to "Hero," "House of the Flying Daggers," got a cinematography nomination last year.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

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