Wednesday, January 24, 2007

My Award Show Has a First Name,
It's O-S-C-A-R

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced the nominees for the 79th Academy Awards a few hours ago. In general, I am not a fan of the Oscars and think it is a big mistake to put much stock into the awards; however, I must say I am fairly pleased with this year's nominees. All five Best Picture films seem quite solid (even THE DEPARTED, despite my griping).

Two favorites, PAN'S LABYRINTH and CHILDREN OF MEN, both received several nominations. Hopefully these awards will spur local distributors here in South Korea to release some of those movies a little quicker (I'm talking to you Warner Bros, and I'm talking about LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA). FYI, THE QUEEN comes out Feb. 15, BABEL on Feb. 22, and LAST KING OF SCOTLAND on March 8.

No big surprises that Korea's nominee, THE KING AND THE CLOWN, did not get a nod for Best Foreign Language Film. I thought that was an incredibly weak selection that had no chance (it did not even make the short list, announced a few weeks ago). Not sure if THE HOST would have done any better... could not have done worse, I guess. In general, I thought 2006 a pretty weak year for Korean movies (artistically, anyhow).

But as I indicated in the beginning of this post, I am not a big Oscar fan, especially for the Best Foreign Language Film category, and I think we would be far better off if we ignored the whole silly thing.

Nikki Finke, as always, has all of the political and box office analyses, while completely ignoring any thought of art or quality (worse, she actively campaigns against such considerations, as in the middle of that link when she says that UNITED 93 did not deserve a nomination, despite being well-directed and having a great script, just because it had no A-list actors in it).

Oh, nearly forgot, if I am going to mention Korean movies getting the love from foreign critics (as I did here), then it seems only fair to mention when they get the raspberries, too. Japan's Bunshin Raspberry Awards named one Korean movie to their list of the 10-worst films of 2006 -- Choi Ji-woo's silly melodrama NOW AND FOREVER, which was ranked No. 7 among the most rank. TALES OF EARTHSEA was the runaway winner (loser?) of this year's Raspberries.


Mike said...

Dear Sir,

Do you know of the release date for "Borat" in Korea? It has been pused back twice so far here in Korea. Will Fox Korea even give it a release or just take it astraight to dvd?

Please check out my reviews at and give me your opinion, good or bad.

Thanks Mike

Mark Russell said...

Sir? Thank you for the politeness, but I am so not a sir. Mark is fine. "Mr. Russell" if you intend to borrow money or otherwise inconvenience me.

Anyhow, all the Korean websites I have looked at are saying BORAT comes out Jan. 25.

bwridge said...


I saw CHildren of Men the other day and it was very, very good.

I'm looking forward to seeing Pan's Labyrinth sometime soon.

I'm curious how Borat will go over with Korean audiences...


Anonymous said...

Ooh, I loved Pan's Labryinth. Disturbing, but very, very, very good. And I think its just sad that all Korea could come up with for the 2006 year was The King and the Clown/The Host. Hopefully 2007 will see some stronger korean movies =).

Mike said...


What happened to "Borat" CGV and Lotte have both canceled their showings of "Borat"

Mark Russell said...

Mike - I don't know what to say. All the websites have BORAT listed on them, including Lotte and CGV. I have not physically traveled to the cinemas to check, but it certainly looks like the movie is playing all over. It is, however, the start of the very busy Seollal season, and there is a lot of competition for screens right now. It might have gotten bumped from a couple of screens near where you live.

Beal said...

How are you people seeing Children of Men? As far as I can find, there's still no Korean release date for that one yet. Unless you're doing the bootleg thing, in which case, tsk tsk.

Mark Russell said...

CHILDREN OF MEN does not have a release date yet in Korea. Although, to be fair, CHILDREN is a Universal release, and Universal's Korea office in the middle of a pretty huge re-organization (it used to be teamed with Paramount as UIP, but now the two have separated). Universal's new, solo office opens Feb. 1, so I expect we will have a release date for CHILDREN OF MEN soon.

As for bootlegs... I see nothing wrong with them as long as they do not stopping you from spending your money to watch the film legitimately when you get the chance. But I am a bit of an anarchist when it comes to that sort of stuff... "Information wants to be free", et cetera. I think piracy is as much a result of inefficiencies/problems in the market as it is a cause of problems. Maybe more.

Beal said...

I certainly agree that piracy is largely a reaction to market and media industry problems, in particular their inabilities to deal with new technologies and faster information spread. And I'd say that, in the long run (and maybe even the short run), bootlegging will force the whole industry into a better place.

But it's a case of two wrongs not making a right. If the film industry wants to be a bastard, I should be refusing to see what they make, not just stealing it for myself, or paying someone else to steal it for me (as in buying it off the street).

They've reacted by becoming poor businessmen and bullies and jerks; we've reacted by becoming theives. That sure ain't the moral high ground.

But it sure will suck if taking the moral high ground means waiting until I get back home to see Children of Men.