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And the Thai political Oscars go to...

Mar 03. 2015
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By Tulsathit Taptim
The Nation

I just reported on the 2013 Thai political Oscars yesterday, didn't I? Time doesn't fly; it takes shortcuts through wormholes and, before we know it, we find ourselves sighing "Youth is wasted on the young".
But there’s no point whining. After all, 2014 provided a great deal of inspiration. So here are the Academy Awards for the absolutely unique Thai politics:
Best Actor: Prayut Chan-o-cha in “I Have My Theory for Everything”. A simple and convincing performance in a movie about a leader who can never keep his thoughts to himself, dealing with a society he wants to keep its thoughts to itself (albeit temporarily).
Best Actress: Yingluck Shinawatra in “Whiplash”. She is making this award her own. She won last year’s Best Actress gong for her role in “A Very Long Engagement” and was also nominated for her role in another movie, “The Tourist”. Her victimised character in “Whiplash” earned the unanimous approval of the judges. And like last year, Yingluck was competing against Yingluck. Her role in “The Tourist II”, a story about a politician pondering whether to flee or fight graft charges, captivated much of the world.
Best Supporting Actor: Dhammachayo in “Birdman”. It’s a bird... It’s a plane... Nope. And it’s not Superman, either. The late nomination took the Thai Oscars scene by storm. He played the role of a controversial religious leader using a cutting-edge symbol that put science fiction writers in the shade. The movie poses profound questions about fundamental religious rights and the proper distance between politics and spirituality.
Running him close was Suthep Thaugsuban in “Monkhood”, a film about the drastic life change of a man who made the journey from militant political activism to religious seclusion.
Best Supporting Actress: Yaowapa Wongsawat in “Now You See Me II”. How a woman so influential can be so elusive in public is the theme this movie dealt with. She appeared for about 20 seconds in the film, but that underlined its whole message, which is that to play Thai politics, you don’t necessarily need to be seen.
Best Musical Score: “We Will Keep Our Promise”, written for “Begin Again”. Virtually had no competition. No other song, wrote a reviewer, can make your mood swing like this one. First it made you hopeful. Then, five months later, it made you doubtful. And just before the award was announced, many were said to be on the verge of a mental breakdown listening to it.
Best Picture: The Oscar goes to “12 Years a Slave and Nobody Can Imitate Us”. It’s a sequel to last year’s winner, “12 Years a Slave (and counting)”. Again, Thais of all political colours starred in this one, which reaffirmed the overpowering control of politics over friendship, daily life and everything else. 
Best Foreign Film: “Ugly Americans” takes the Award. It’s not a remake, mind you. This one features modern-day diplomats and high-ranking officials accused of naivety, inconsiderateness, hypocrisy and cliche overdose. 
Best Screenplay: “Eat (rice), Pawn (rice) and Pray (you don’t get caught reaping profits from rice)” is the winner. The ending is so good and open to interpretation that audiences engaged in fistfights while walking out of theatres. Some thought it was a film about government corruption while the others insisted the alleged fraudsters had been framed.
Best Comedy: Again, a sequel to a winner last year proved too strong. “Revolutionary Road II” – aka “Let’s stage a coup and write a new Constitution so that a democratically elected Parliament can come and change that Constitution and set the stage for another coup, and on and on it goes” – claims the award.
Best Sound Editing: The winner is “Safe House”, a film about previously noisy activists who emerge from government custody dead silent and camera-shy. (It’s been noted that this movie may have had a big impact on its stars, as Jatuporn Promphan and Nuttawut Saikuar have barely been seen or heard from since they finished the shoot.)
Best Costume Design: The Oscar goes to “Birdman”, its unrivalled street parade scene winning the judges over.
Best Documentary Feature: “There Will Be Blood”, which portrays hatred, conspiracies, corruption and all the other dirty stuff in the oil business.
Best Cinematography: The award goes to “Grand Dubai, Hong Kong, Singapore, Beijing, Montenegro, Moscow and Many More Hotels”. This movie captured spectacular views, drastic climate shifts and cultural differences, all in one package.
And now, we’ve come to the end of the award presentation, so it’s time for our traditional finale: the most memorable movie quote. Just like last year, judges were divided down the middle, so we have two winners for most memorable quote. “Democracy dies today” in “Whiplash” is one. The other is the highlight from the lyrics of “We Will Keep Our Promise”. The phrase goes, “It won’t take long.”

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