WHO can ever choose between the most promising young directors in the land? Even an award of recognition for this quality – based on the strength of their best film output of the year – seems null when we’re talking about real change for the industry. A vibrant cinematic future for Malaysia should be a collective of these talents, like a beautiful tapestry of multi-personality, multi-background, multi-perspective individuals.
However so, we’ll still humour the shortlist – after all, that’s what we’re here for.
Take Me To Dinner
Nominee: Gavin Yap
Verdict: A man of the theater, the youthful Gavin Yap’s Joyce-ian ennui struggles to be translated onto the Malaysian big screen. Directing a veteran protagonist was bold and quite a feat by Yap but overall, if not for the decent form of Patrick Teoh(‘s voice), TMTD is a quite awful watch. Hopefully Yap gets to make more movies and truly find his cinematic voice.
Nominee: Shamyl Othman
Verdict: The up-and-comer pulls out all the stops here with this caper about an all-girl band who pay the price for wanting to be famous with their music: getting in trouble with a legendary folk demon. All the trappings of the current millennial youthscape can not only be seen in glorious digital colour but felt – through requisite touchscreen effects, boisterous new slang and the realness of the cast.
Red Films put out another winner with this one, in a genre they’ve known best. And Shamyl Othman delivered on that trust with this extended candy commercial of a teen dramedy, while we watched guilt-free.
Nominee: Raja Mukhriz
Verdict: Lead and Best Actor nominee Que Haidar has tweeted his annoyance at Ophilia – Raja Mukhriz’s skinhead opus – not being in the running for film of the year. A clear survivor of that particular scene in the ’90s and 2000s, Ophilia is the director’s obvious celebration of that subculture and its strong-willed characters. Whether this dedicated labour of love is seen as more as a niche masterwork will likely determine how Raja Mukhriz does in this category this year.
Nominee: Felix Tan & Kethsvin Chee
Verdict: The Cage‘s premise is ingenious enough – a bunch of stage actors are horrified when the line between art and life is blurred by a psychotic theatre director and they find themselves having to perform a living nightmare, with the ambiguous audience left to bear witness to the live insanity. Shot and cut at pace, such a treatment would need two heads to tame the story arc as it plays out on camera. More of a physical achievement than a spiritual one, Tan and Chee’s thriller is gripping and watchable for what it is, though one-dimensional and almost Saw-like at times.
Nominee: Razaisyam Rashid
Verdict: For a Malay popcorn flick, CEO doesn’t really rise above the monotonous heap of the past five years. Fans of acting may feel that co-lead Beto Kusyairi‘s chops are a bit wasted in this tame rom-com, but at the least the adoring mass audience will have gotten to see A-list stud Remy Ishak in a self-deprecating light and slightly out of character. And director Razaisyam Rashid will at least have shown that he has a way with getting the rare performances out of big-name ensemble casts.
Daily Seni’s Pick
It would be a two-way toss-up between Shamyl Othman and Raja Mukhriz, with the Felix Tan-Kethsvin Chee pairing an outside vote. Gavin Yap is yet to define his silver-screen ouvre; with a WTF decision in store if Razaisyam surprises voters with the novelty/celebrity factor.