Teacher’s Diary (Nithiwat Tharatorn)
OK, the writing or acting in this GTH rom-com won’t blow any minds, but we think it’s just about the best Thai film we watched last year. The premise of a guy falling in love with a girl by reading her diary could easily become bloated and bogged down by melodrama, which makes it even more impressive that director Nithiwat Tharathorn (of Seasons Change, the film that cemented GTH’s position as the best Thai film company for many) was able to craft such a well-rounded story. The film has comedy and warm, fuzzy drama in just the right balance, making it a joy—and a breeze—to watch. The beautiful cinematography, which takes full advantage of one of Thailand’s best-preserved natural environments, also deserves praise.
Best Leading Actress
Toei Jarinporn (Timeline)
The female lead in the sequel to 2004’s hit romance film The Letter, Toei is a veteran of Thailand’s film and TV industry, and she brings all that experience to the fore in portraying the lively and optimistic Mut. While Timeline’s script is average at best, Toei instills her character with life and vigor, stealing every scene she’s in. In fact, Toei’s performance is the best thing about the film, hands down.
Best Leading Actor
Ananda Everingham (Concrete Clouds)
Ananda had a quiet 2013, possibly due to the backlash he received from the supremely disappointing 2012 film Shambala. His acting chops, however, have never been in doubt, and he was back to kick ass in 2014’s Concrete Clouds. He fits the role of a foreign exchange student reluctantly called home perfectly, and his body language and mannerisms are as excellent as ever. Expect to see Ananda in every single TV commercial and music video again.
Best Supporting Actress
Marsha Wattanapanich (Love on the Rocks)
Marsha and her entourage of drinking friends are probably the only good thing about this illogical and poorly-thought out film. Her natural charisma and confident mannerisms make her character a joy to watch, even when everything else in the film makes not a lick of sense (let’s not even get started on the irrationality of the two lead characters). It’s a shame that her character only got such limited screen-time, and the second half of the film is infinitely less interesting without her.
Best Supporting Actor(s)
The kids in Teacher’s Diary (Nithiwat Tharatorn)
It would be remiss not to mention all the kids who truly elevated this film from a run-of-the-mill love story into something more meaningful. The children also serve as another bridge between the two main characters, who supposedly never meet, giving them an important role in the overall story. The talent on display is also pretty impressive, with the kids pulling off comedic and dramatic scenes perfectly.
The Master (Nawapol Thamronrattanarit)
This year, the edgy director of indie gems like 36 and Mary is Happy, Mary is Happy graced us with The Master, a documentary telling the story of Van Video, a humble little store that sold bootleg foreign art-house films back in the 90s and early 00s. The whole movie is basically just a bunch of people talking, answering interview questions with the occasional piece of inserted footage, yet it impressively elicited both laughter and tears from us throughout its run time.
It was hardly a bumper year for Thai film, but the one production team you could rely on to deliver the laughs was GTH. As far as box office hits go, I Fine… Thank You… Love You had the second highest opening day for a Thai film ever—no laughing matter. As with his previous film, 2012’s low-budget smash ATM: Er Rak Error, Mez showed a knack for telling a relatable story coated in over-the-top slapstick comedy, this time centering on English lessons and the often-unintended hilarity that ensues. The story isn’t rocket science, but then we’re not all rocket scientists, are we?
Best Art Film
W (Cholasit Upanigkit)
It takes serious guts to make an almost three-hour-long movie for your undergraduate thesis, but director Chonlasit Upanigkit did just that. It paid off too, as the film was one of only two Thai movies selected to be shown at the Busan International Film Festival in Korea this year. W, which focuses on the various aspects of Thai college life, was lauded for its relatable and realistic characters, as well as its insights into the emotional roller-coaster that comes with the transformation from teenager to full-fledged adult. It’s a stark reminder that amid a sea of mediocrity, there’s still the potential for genuine art in Thailand’s film industry.
Best Musical Film
Y/Our Music (Waraluck Hiransrettawat Every and David Reeve)
A fascinating look at Thailand’s leftfield music scene that uses the country’s various styles of music, through the stories of nine musicians, as a metaphor for the divide between urban and rural life. It’s only had a limited run here so far, but we can see that changing now that it’s been announced to screen as part of SXSW’s 24 Beats Per Second program this March. www.fb.com/yourmusicmovie.
Nam Mun Prai (Dulasit Niyomkul)
This 3D horror film sees Girly Berry’s Gybzy fall prey to a curse that kills anyone “unfortunate” enough to have sex with her. Through the course of the film, however, she decides to use her curse for good, and transforms from a confused victim to a superheroine-esque avenger who kills horny men for justice by having sex with them. It’s the kind of mindless fantasy revenge-porn you’d expect to hear from a drunk at a bar, so we should maybe at least give the producers credit for having the nerve to go through with this movie.
The So Bad it’s Good Award
Let’s face it: as bad as the story (and Dan Chupong’s acting) is, we all knew what to expect from a film by the guys behind Ong Bak and Tom Yum Goong. What Vengeance of an Assassin laughably lacks in character development, it makes up for in meticulously choreographed scenes of people beating each other up in the most acrobatic and dangerous-looking ways possible. It’s worth watching for all the beautiful back flips and roundhouse kicks alone.
The Enough Already Award
When it was first announced that the story of King Naresuan was going to span four movies, we already thought it was a few films too many. As it turned out, there was one more, bringing the series to five. Now, we all know King Naresuan’s significance to Thai history, but it’s a shame Prince Chatrichalerm Yukol decided to leave out the key ingredient, action, so what we got was one overly-long patriotic puff piece.
The Eye Candy Award
James Jirayu Tangsrisuk (Timeline)
It’s not too much of a stretch to say that a significant part of Timeline’s success derives from the beautifully symmetrical face of lead actor James Jirayu. Sure, his delivery and acting could use some work, but his cheekbones and comehither eyes make it much easier to gloss over his acting blunders.
Best Love Story
Somboon (Krissada Tipchaimeta)
This documentary tells the true story of the elderly Mr. Somboon and his disabled wife, and the unwavering love that’s kept them together amid poverty and disasters like the 2011 flooding of Bangkok. The director’s use of shaky handhelds and artsy camera angles gives the film a magical, dream-like quality that leaves you envying both Mr. Somboon and his wife for having such a dedicated and faithful relationship.
Most Homo Erotic Film
Who needs good acting and a believable plot when the main actors have abs so hard you can scrub your clothes on them? That is exactly the case with The Swimmers, GTH’s teen horror flick starring Hormones stars Tor Thanapop and March Juthawat, who both remain topless for a good chunk of the film. The Swimmers has been bashed to bits for its misuse of medical facts, wooden acting and just overall nonsensical story, but all those things are arguably irrelevant thanks to the dreamy bodies of the two lead actors.
Best Casting Award
I Fine… Thank You… Love You (Mez Tharatorn)
No, we’re not giving the film this award because one of the BK staff starred as Sora Aoi’s American boy-toy. As impressive (and enviable) as that is, we truly believe that the casting decisions made in this film are just perfect, plain and simple. Ice Preechaya and Sunny have an adorable chemistry, while Too Popetorn and Joke So Cool are allowed to display their natural charm in the most fitting way possible. Killing a gecko by squishing it between your butt-cheeks is as awkward as awkward gets, but when you’re Joke So Cool, it just looks…natural.