35th Japan Academy Prize Winners Announced

The winners of the 35th Japan Academy Prize were announced on Monday, with the exception of the “Best” awards in each of the main categories. Those will be revealed during the official awards ceremony on March 2nd.

“Youkame no Semi,” directed by Narushima Izuru, received the most honors, with a total of 13 awards in 12 categories. Sugita Shigemichi’s “Saigo no Chushingura” was close behind with 12 awards in 12 categories, as was Mitani Koki’s “Suteki na Kanashibari” with 10 awards in 10 categories.

The winners are:

Picture of the Year

Oshika-mura Soudouki

Saigo no Chushingura

Suteki na Kanashibari

Tantei wa Bar ni Iru

Youkame no Semi

Animation of the Year


Kokurikozaka Kara

Tezuka Osamu no Buddha: Akai Sabaku yo! Utsukushiku

Tofu Kozo

Meitantei Conan: Chinmoku no Quarter

Director of the Year

Sakamoto Junji (Oshika-mura Soudouki)

Shindo Kaneto (Ichimai no Hagaki)

Sugita Shigemichi (Saigo no Chushingura)

Narushima Izuru (Youkame no Semi)

Mitani Koki (Suteki na Kanashibari)

Screenplay of the Year

Arai Haruhiko / Sakamoto Junji (Oshika-mura Soudouki)

Okudera Satoko (Youkame no Semi)

Tanaka Yozo (Saigo no Chushingura)

Kosawa Ryota / Suto Yasushi (Tantei wa Bar ni Iru)

Mitani Koki (Suteki na Kanashibari)

Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

Oizumi Yo (Tantei wa Bar ni Iru)

Sakai Masato (Bushi no Kakeibo)

Harada Yoshio (Oshika-mura Soudouki)

Miura Tomokazu (RAILWAYS: Ai wo Tsutaerarenai Otonatachi e)

Yakusho Koji (Saigo no Chushingura)

Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

Inoue Mao (Youkame no Semi)

Nagasawa Masami (Moteki)

Nakatani Miki (Hankyu Densha: Katamichi 15 Fun no Kiseki)

Fukatsu Eri (Suteki na Kanashibari)

Miyazaki Aoi (Tsure ga Utsu ni Narimashite)

Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

Iseya Yusuke (Ashita no Joe)

Kishibe Ittoku (Oshika-mura Soudouki)

Sato Koichi (Saigo no Chushingura)

Denden (Tsumetai Nettaigyo)

Matsuda Ryuhei (Tantei wa Bar ni Iru)

Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

Aso Kumiko (Moteki)

Koike Eiko (Youkame no Semi)

Nagasaku Hiromi (Youkame no Semi)

Mitsushima Hikari (Ichimei)

Miyamoto Nobuko (Hankyu Densha: Katamichi 15 Fun no Kiseki)

Outstanding Achievement in Music

Ike Yoshihiro (Tantei wa Bar ni Iru)

Iwasaki Taisei (Moteki)

Ogino Kiyoko (Suteki na Kanashibari)

Kako Takashi (Saigo no Chushingura)

Yasukawa Goro (Youkame no Semi)

Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography

Kasamatsu Norimichi (Oshika-mura Soudouki)

Naganuma Mutsuo (Saigo no Chushingura)

Fujiishi Osamu (Gaku)

Fujisawa Masakazu (Youkame no Semi)

Yamamoto Hideo (Suteki na Kanashibari)

Outstanding Achievement in Lighting Direction

Iwashita Kazuhiro (Oshika-mura Soudouki)

Miyanishi Takaaki (Saigo no Chushingura)

Kawabe Takayuki (Gaku)

Kanazawa Masao (Youkame no Semi)

Ono Akira (Suteki na Kanashibari)

Outstanding Achievement in Art Direction

Kondo Nariyuki (Bushi no Kakeibo)

Taneda Yohei (Suteki na Kanashibari)

Nishioka Yoshinobu / Harada Tetsuo (Saigo no Chushingura)

Hayashida Yuji (Ichimei)

Matsumoto Chie (Youkame no Semi)

Outstanding Achievement in Sound Recording

Segawa Tetsuo (Suteki na Kanashibari)

Tamura Chiaki / Murozono Tsuyoshi (Tantei wa Bar ni Iru)

Terui Yasumasa (Oshika-mura Soudouki)

Nakamichi Toyotaka / Segawa Tetsuo (Saigo no Chushingura)

Fujimoto Kenichi (Youkame no Semi)

Outstanding Achievement in Film Editing

Ishida Yusuke (Moteki)

Ueno Soichi (Suteki na Kanashibari)

Nagata Chizuko (Saigo no Chushingura)

Sanjo Chise (Youkame no Semi)

Tadano Shinya (Tantei wa Bar ni Iru)

Outstanding Foreign Language Film

The King’s Speech

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

The Social Network

Black Swan


Rookie of the Year

Kumada Sea (Saya Zamurai)

Sakuraba Nanami (Saigo no Chushingura)

Watanabe Konomi (Youkame no Semi)

Kamiji Yusuke (Manzai Gang)

Kora Kengo (Keibetsu)

Nomi Takaaki (Saya Zamurai)

Hasegawa Hiroki (Second Virgin)

Special Award from the Chairman

Okada Shigeru (producer, died May 9, 2011)

Sano Takeji (lighting, died March 4, 2011)

Takamine Hideko (actress, died December 28, 2010)

Harada Yoshio (actor, died July 19, 2011)

Morita Yoshimitsu (director, died December 26, 2011)

Special Award from the Association

Goshozono Hisatoshi (large props)

Hitoshi Matsumoto’s third film pushing through production for festival release

Comedian Hitoshi Matsumoto (47) of the duo Downtown is working on a jidaigeki film for his next directorial effort, it has been learned. The movie seems to be titled "Saya Zamurai," and he has been secretly shooting the film since October.

Matsumoto made his debut as a director with "Dainipponjin" in 2007, and he followed up with "Symbol" in 2009. It was revealed a couple months ago that he was working on his third movie, but few details were available at the time.

The story revolves around a retired samurai named Nomi Kanjuro and his rebellious daughter Tae. Although the film may seem like a typical jidaigeki work on the surface, it will certainly be injected with Matsumoto’s sense of humor.

As previously revealed, the lead role of Kanjuro has been given to amateur Takaaki Nomi (53), who currently works as a bartender in Shinjuku but has previously appeared on Matsumoto’s variety show "Hataraku Ossan Gekijo." The role of Tae will be played by child actress Sea Kumada (9), who has acted in shows such as "Dousoukai" and "Orthros no Inu." Unlike his previous films, Matsumoto does not plan to act in the movie.

Matsumoto became a father last year, which likely influenced his decision to do a story about the relationship between a father and daughter.

Filming is expected to continue until mid-January. The production team is reportedly hoping to have the film ready for potential screenings at international film festivals such as Cannes.

“Battle Royale 3D” coming to American theaters soon

The 3D conversion of the movie "Battle Royale" (directed by the late Kinji Fukasaku) was shopped at the recent American Film Market (November 3-10). It drew attention from more than 50 distributors in 13 countries, and among them was Anchor Bay Entertainment, which has picked up the U.S. distribution rights and is planning a 2011 release.

The violent but controversial film was a hit in Japan when it was originally released in 2000. Although it found popularity among fans around the world, it was never picked up for release in the U.S., partly due to events such as the Columbine High School massacre in 1999. Now, ten years later, the film has finally secured U.S. distribution with the 3D conversion overseen by Fukasaku’s son Kenta. Kenta also directed the poorly-received sequel "Battle Royale II: Requiem" in 2003, and that film (in 2D) will reportedly get U.S. distribution through Anchor Bay Entertainment as well.

The 3D version of "Battle Royale" opens in Japan on November 20.


Two Japanese films nominated for Venice Film Festival’s Golden Lion

Two Japanese movies have been nominated for the 67th Venice Film Festival’s Golden Lion award, organizers of the festival beginning Sept. 1 said Thursday.

One is "Norwegian Wood" directed by Vietnamese-born French director Tran Anh Hung, based on Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami’s bestseller of the same title. The other is "Ju-san nin no shikaku" (13 Assassins) directed by Japanese director Takashi Miike.

Read the rest of the story: 2 Japanese films nominated for Venice Film Festival’s Golden Lion.

Tokyo Sonata

I’m always interested in watching a good movie, especially when my partner tells me she wants to see one. So it happened the other night that I sat down in front of the T.V., which I only own for the sole purpose of watching movies, to delight in the most moving Japanese film I’ve seen since “Departures”. This movie however wasn’t the constant tear-jerker that “Departures” was. It was rather more contemporary-more true to these economic times and rather hard-hitting in places that made it both funny and sad at the same time. The film took it’s turns with each member of a family that so happened to live by a busy train rail. And like most of us, their lives all get derailed. However, for some reason this happens all on one night in the film and it makes for an interesting story. I won’t say much more about it, but do see it. The song playing at the end is worth watching the whole movie for.