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'The Unbroken' Tops Japanese Academy Awards

Ken Watanabe, Tomokazu Miura in The Unbroken
Ken Watanabe, Tomokazu Miura in The Unbroken

Setsuro Wakamatsu's drama The Unbroken was voted the best Japanese film of 2009 at the Japanese Academy Awards ceremony, which was held in Tokyo on March 5.

In the controversial drama, best actor winner Ken Watanabe plays an airline union leader fighting for stricter safety regulations following an air crash that left hundreds dead. Corporate corruption, however, gets in the way. The Unbroken was clearly inspired by the Japan Airlines flight 123 crash in 1985, the worst in Japan's aviation history.

Veteran cinematographer Daisaku Kimura (Tidal Wave, The Beast Shall Die) was voted best director for his directorial debut, The Summit: A Chronicle of Stones, which earned Teruyuki Kagawa the best supporting actor award for his role as a mountain guide. The tale of an attempt to climb a virgin peak in the early 1900s, The Summit: A Chronicle of Stones won a total of six awards, including best cinematography (also Kimura) and best score (Shinichirô Ikebe).

Takako Matsu won the best actress award for playing the title role in the period drama Villon's Wife, which chronicles the difficulties faced by the wife of a self-destructive writer (Tadanobu Asano).

For the second consecutive year, the best supporting actress was Kimiko Yo, this time for Dear Doctor. (Last year, Yo took home the award for her performance in the Academy Award-winning drama Departures.) Dear Doctor also won the best screenplay award for Miwa Nishikawa, the film's director-screenwriter and writer of the original novel. Dear Doctor tells the story of a village doctor (best actor nominee Tsurube Shofukutei) who is exposed as a con artist, though the locals don't seem too concerned about it.

The best animated feature was Mamoru Hosoda's Summer Wars, while Clint Eastwood's Gran Torino was voted the best foreign film.

Partial list of nominees & winners

Picture of the Year:
Villon's Wife (Kichitaro Negishi)
* The Unbroken (Setsuro Wakamatsu)
Zero Focus (Isshin Inudo)
The Summit: A Chronicle of Stones (Daisaku Kimura)
Dear Doctor (Miwa Nishikawa)

Outstanding Foreign Language Film
* Gran Torino (Clint Eastwood)
Slumdog Millionaire (Danny Boyle)
The Changeling (Clint Eastwood)
The Wrestler (Darren Aronofsky)
Red Cliff - Part 2 (John Woo)

Animation of the Year
Evangelion: 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance (Khara)
* Summer Wars (Mamoru Hosoda)
Doraemon (Shigeo Koshi)
Yona Yona Penguin (Rintaro)
Detective Conan: The Raven Chaser (Yasuichiro Yamamoto)

Director of the Year
Isshin Inudo (Zero Focus)
* Daisaku Kimura (The Summit: A Chronicle of Stones)
Kichitaro Negishi (Villon's Wife)
Miwa Nishikawa (Dear Doctor)
Setsuro Wakamatsu (The Unbroken)

Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
Tadanobu Asano (Villon's Wife)
Tadanobu Asano (The Summit: A Chronicle of Stones)
Nao Omori (The Vulture)
Tsurube Shofukutei (Dear Doctor)
* Ken Watanabe (The Unbroken)

Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
Haruka Ayase (Oppai Volleyball)
Ryoko Hirosue (Zero Focus)
Du-na Bae (Airdoll)
* Takako Matsu (Villon's Wife)
Aoi Miyazaki (The Shonen Merikensack)

Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
Eita (Dear Doctor)
* Teruyuki Kagawa (The Summit: A Chronicle of Stones)
Masato Sakai (The Triumphant Return of General Rouge)
Tetsuji Tamayama (The Vulture)
Tomokazu Miura (The Unbroken)

Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
Tae Kimura (Zero Focus)
Kyoka Suzuki (The Unbroken)
Miki Nakatani (Zero Focus)
Shigeru Muroi (Villon's Wife)
* Kimiko Yo (Dear Doctor)

Screenplay of the Year
Isshin Inudo/Kenji Nakazono (Zero Focus)
Daisaku Kimura/Atsuo Kikuchi/Toshimasa Miyamura (The Summit: A Chronicle of Stones)
Yozo Tanaka (Villon's Wife)
Takuya Nishioka (The Unbroken)
* Miwa Nishikawa (Dear Doctor)

Outstanding Achievement in Music
* Shinichiro Ikebe (The Summit: A Chronicle of Stones)
Koji Ueno (Zero Focus)
Norihito Sumitomo (The Unbroken)
Shutoku Mukai (The Shonen Merikensack)
Takashi Yoshimatsu (Villon's Wife)

Special award from the chairman
Genken Nakaoka
Shuei Matsubayashi
Yoshiro Muraki

'The Unbroken' Tops Japanese Academy Awards © 2004–2018 Alt Film Guide and/or author(s).
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