This year’s Oscar nominations have reflected the Academy’s efforts to be more inclusive. Out of a total of 20 acting nominations, seven of them this year have gone to nonwhite actors. This change can be attributed to the Academy’s leader, President Cheryl Boon Isaacs, who has diversified the ranks so that a greater variety of films are taken into consideration.
Nonetheless, the nominations are still lacking in certain demographics. Despite an increasing amount of Hollywood ticket sales coming from Asia, there are still very few Asian films represented, even under the Foreign Language Film categories.
Here are eight Asian nominees that should have been in the Oscars. Hopefully next year, we will see an even more faithful representation of films from across the globe.
Best Picture – The Kid from the Big Apple (我来自纽约)
“The Kid from the Big Apple (我来自纽约)” was an absolute tearjerker. Even beyond its emotional resonance, the film covered so many universal themes, like the generation gap, parent-child relationships, and the importance of family. Coupled with intricate character development, “The Kid from the Big Apple (我来自纽约)” was one of the most underrated films of 2017.
Actor in a Leading Role – Gong Yoo, Train to Busan
One of the reasons that made “Train to Busan” so memorable was the growth of the central character, Seok-Woo (Gong Yoo). From an ostensibly heartless corporate zombie to an empathic human being, Seok-Woo’s character arc was a thematic reversal of the zombie transformation. This gave a subtle twist to the zombie outbreak, and reminded us of the values and emotions that made us human.
Actress in a Leading Role – Tan Qin Lin, The Kid from the Big Apple
Tan Qin Lin is 13 years old this year, and 11 when “The Kid from the Big Apple (我来自纽约)” was being shot. Despite what you might have thought, there are actually no official age minimums for actor and actress nominations. Jacob Tremblay’s absence from last year’s nominations was purely due to the decisions of the committee, rather than any rules regarding age.
Actor in a Supporting Role – Hisashi Yoshiwaza, I Am a Hero
Iura (Hisashi Yoshiwaza) was an unnerving antagonist in the Japanese zombie movie “I Am a Hero”. He exuded Oedipal vibes from his first appearance, and his softspoken demeanour was a huge contrast from his violent actions. Even his childish outfit signalled to us that he was driven by perverse parental issues. The irony was that he was probably more depraved than any zombie in the film.
Animated Feature Film – Your Name
Japan produces copious numbers of theatrical animations, yet none of them were nominated in the Oscars this year. “Your Name” is perhaps the most egregious one of them all, given its critical reception. A masterpiece of storytelling and aesthetics, “Your Name” is one of the most unjust omissions from the Oscars.
Cinematography – The Handmaiden
Even though “The Handmaiden” was rife with pretension, the artistic merit of the film cannot be denied. Every shot was lovingly and carefully framed for maximum impact, creating an entire film that can be viewed without audio, should you so choose it. “The Handmaiden” had cinematography that was arguably better than some of the other films in that category, making it a huge pity that it was not considered for the Oscars.
Documentary (Feature) – Tsukiji Wonderland
The significance of “Tsukiji Wonderland” was augmented by the impending relocation of the eponymous Tsukiji Fish Market. Despite the fact that the move has been postponed indefinitely, the film still gives amazing insight into the workings of the famous fish market. It showed us what the legendary tuna auctions were like, a sight that few people in the world have had the chance to see. And when Tsukiji Fish Market finally moves to a new location, this documentary will be a reminder of how unique and outstanding the place was.
Costume Design – The Age of Shadows
Finally, the Korean period piece “The Age of Shadows” truly immersed us in an era that is long gone. Its attention to detail and its acknowledgement of the East-West fusion of attire was one of the many highlights in an already excellent film.
Were any Asian masterpieces left out? Leave a comment with your picks for the Oscars.
Marcus Goh is a Singapore television scriptwriter. He’s also a Transformers enthusiast and avid pop culture scholar. He Tweets/Instagrams at Optimarcus and writes at marcusgohmarcusgoh.com. The views expressed are his own.