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Hopeful bets

The Oscars has been accused of all-male machinations, err, nominations, at the Best Director gig with Joon-ho in heavy competition with Sam Mendes, Quentin Tarantino and his favorite, Martin Scorsese.

Kathleen A. Llemit

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Today is going to be a busy day. Apart from the Oscars, Philippine TV will see the premiere of the much-awaited local adaptation of the hit Korean drama, Descendants of the Sun (DoTS).
It is understandable for GMA-7 to be a little bit nervous on how it is going to fare in the ratings game. It is going to be pitted against another drama that features the lives of soldiers, ABS-CBN’s A Soldier’s Heart.

But while the rival show is a melodrama, zeroing in on the travails and triumphs of these respected men in uniform, DoTS Phl does not have to go through the nitty-gritty or soap operatic treatment that is being given by ABS-CBN on its show.

Those who have seen the Korean drama (yes, I’ve seen it so more or less I’m quite familiar with its plot) do not expect an adaptation that will go over-the-top with the drama.
DoTS is first and foremost a love story, with the professions of the lead characters as the main conflict in their romance. One is a soldier who will have to inevitably kill a person when need be, while the other is a doctor whose vow is to save lives.

Thus, GMA’s latest show could earn more than its already captive audience (meaning those who are fans of the Korean drama) if it tries to equal or even make a better show than the original. Historically, viewers have yet to see a better adaptation from a string of adaptations local networks have made so far.

Based on the trailer and fan comments on social media, potential viewers are giving the thumbs-up sign with this particular adaptation. One reliable source who has seen the first few minutes of the drama said that “so far the drama is good.”

This is from someone who usually does not find time to watch Philippine dramas. It is mostly because of issues with cinematography, storyline and editing. These elements are crucial and have made Korean dramas in general quite popular all over the world.

Koreans are meticulous with their shots; each should be refreshing and pleasant to the eyes, with no traces of shadows or poor lighting in the scene.

The stories are often coherent and sensible even if the genre is a mind-bending fantasy romance.

And the most important factor is the length, just enough to establish chemistry between lead characters, build tension, go through climax and pen a convincing resolution to the story’s conflict.
When all these are considered by the local adaptation, then, GMA-7 need not be nervous about it.

***

The Academy had better make it right for Parasite.

Their peers at the SAG (Screen Actors’ Guild) and the Hollywood foreign press at the Golden Globes had already cast their votes.

Both award-giving bodies have been lauded for daring to make the choice — that is, giving an award to the critically-acclaimed South Korean box-office hit.

Earlier in January, Parasite was named Best Foreign Language Film at the Globes. Then SAG bestowed Bong Joon-ho’s handpicked cast, led by his favorite Song Kang-ho, as the Best Cast in a Motion Picture.

JASMINE Curtis-Smith and Rocco Nacino (left) are the second leads of the highly anticipated adaptation of “Descendants of the Sun.” The cast of “Parasite” with director Bong Joon-ho (in eyeglasses) at the Screen Actor’s Guild Awards in 20 January. They won the Best Ensemble Award, a historic feat for a foreign language film. GMA NETWORK/AFP

Many say it’s a first for both bodies, and hope there’s going to be a repeat at the Oscars today. Fans, however, are saying that in a fair world, Parasite could easily go with a sweep of Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Editing, Best Production and Best Picture, not just Best International Feature. The latter is seen as the sure shot win for the South Korean pick over another work from Oscar favorite Pedro Almodovar, with his work in Pain and Glory.

Still, Parasite is lucky to be winning at all. Unlike Greta Gerwig or Celine Sciamma, the female directors of the well-reviewed films, Little Women and Portrait of a Lady on Fire. The Oscars has been accused of all-male machinations, err, nominations, at the Best Director gig with Joon-ho in heavy competition with Sam Mendes, Quentin Tarantino and his favorite, Martin Scorsese.

They should prepare for another comeback with these choices. It is but wishful thinking to have another Rebel Wilson moment at the BAFTA or British Academy of Film and Television Arts.

The Cats star did not hold back from dissing her own film, which by the way leads the Razzies nominations this year. So, it was no surprise that she dissed the nominees at the Best Director category of the BAFTA.

“Sam Mendes, Martin Scorsese, Todd Phillips, Quentin Tarantino and Bong Joon-ho. I look at the exceptional talent nominated in this category and I don’t think I could do what they do, honestly… I just don’t have the balls,” she remarked.

Mendes already scored Globes awards (Best Picture and Best Director) with his WWI flick, 1917. He also swept the recently held BAFTA by taking home Best Film, Outstanding British Film, Best Director, Best Sound, Best Production Design, Best Special Visual Effects and Best Cinematography for Roger Deakins.

Tarantino also has had successes with his signature work in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Scorsese’s new Mafia story in The Irishman, which a friend said is “a Godfather flick but much, much more boring,” might pull off a win this time.

There are other noticeable snubs, too. There is Awkwafina for her stirring performance in The Farewell, as well as Adam Sandler for his highly commended performance in Uncut Gems. For sure, Sandler is on his way to producing a movie “that is so bad on purpose,” as he promised a few months back. Shame on the Oscars for dissuading Sandler to be a more serious actor. Otherwise, he would not have tried so hard to unlearn his goofy, next-door best friend act in many of his feel-good flicks.

They did a little right last year by bestowing Alfonso Cuaron with a Best Director for his work in Netflix’s Roma but it decided to hand the Best Picture to Green Book.

The Oscars, like any other award-giving body, is subjective and relative. That’s the reality. But it is a total disservice to snub works simply because of status quo.

QUENTIN Tarantino is among the favorites to win Best Director at today’s Oscars. AFP

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