Fathers directed by Platphol Mingpornpichit
We give a standing ovation to Fathers for being one of the only Thai films to really explore the life of a homosexual couple in Thailand, and do it well. While mainstream Thai cinema portrays gay characters as sassy comic relief, it’s a breath of fresh air to see Foon (Utt Panichkul) and Yook (Nat Sakdatorn) as complex individuals that we want to root for. While the acting is occasionally patchy, the storyline makes up for it by shedding light on the social and legal difficulties that gay couples face. A brave and important movie.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Sinjai "nok" Plengpanich (Fathers)
After taking a hiatus from the big screen, the veteran actress’s return reminds us of what made her so iconic in the first place. In Fathers, she plays a cold child protective services attorney whose true backstory is only revealed in the final twist. Despite having a somewhat minor role in the movie, her signature fierceness steals the spotlight in every scene she’s in. Her very high standards from the days of Love of Siam haven’t slipped one bit.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Chaiwat Jirawattanakarn (Porn Jak Fah)
When we sat down to watch this feel-good flick, the last thing we expected was to be crying hysterically halfway through it. Behind all the gags and the bouncy soundtrack is a heartbreaking family drama. At the center of it all, Chaiwat delivers a stellar performance as “Loong Pom,” an old man who suffers from Alzheimer’s and constantly asks for his late wife. Making his big- screen debut, Chaiwat captures the various
facets of the illness perfectly, from the terrifying moments of non-recognition to the glimpses of happiness when memory returns temporarily. Safe to say, he had us all going home to hug our dads afterwards.
BEST LEADING ACTRESS
Davika "mai" Hoorne (20 Mai U-Turn)
In this Freaky Friday-esque comedy, we see a 70-something grandmother transform into the body of her 20-year-old self, with all the ensuing hilarity you’d expect. In what doesn’t really amount to anything more than a fun comedy, Davika deserves praise for perfectly capturing the ruthless savagery of Thai aunties we’ve all encountered, right down to the mannerisms and speech delivery. Plus, she totally works the Audrey Hepburn look with the vintage hair and costume.
BEST LEADING ACTOR
Chantavit “Ter” Dhanasevi (Fan Day)
The fact that Ter managed to make so many of us fall for a nerdy, lonesome, less-than-attractive IT worker just proves his fine acting chops. Striking a perfect balance between awkward and adorable, Ter’s on-point delivery of the emotional scenes and the inner struggles of the character show he’s so much more than the stock “friendzoned” guys he’s played in flicks like Guan Mun Ho.
The Island Funeral directed by Pimpaka Towira
This film is an example of contemporary cinematography done well and it’s no surprise it won the Asia Future prize at the Tokyo International Film Festival. Combining elements of documentary, thriller and road-trip genres, the film also sets itself apart by being shot entirely on 16mm. The result is a unique narrative technique where the audience is left in the dark just like the characters while they unravel the political unrest in the south.
Anocha Suwichakornpong (Dao Khanong)
From the director of Pee Chai – My Hero, which was chosen as Thailand’s representative for the foreign-language category at the 2016 Oscars, comes yet another film that breaks boundaries. Dao Khanong follows the lives of several characters loosely connected to the 1976 Thammasat Massacre, with Anocha playing with non-linear storytelling and narrative blind spots to create a film unlike any other we've seen in Thai cinema. She’s also not afraid to ask questions of her audience, whether through the sudden inclusion of a black-and-white clip of a mushroom growing or a recurring character who never speaks.
Hokkaido (Fan Day)
As if Japan were not filled with enough Thai tourists, the release of this GDH rom-com saw a huge increase in people traveling to the romantic and very snowy Hokkaido. The internet mushroomed with guides to exploring the city, including how to follow the trail of the movie, from the exact ski resort where they filmed to the mountain valley where Denchai (Chantavit Dhanasevi) and Nui (Nittha Jirayungyurn) stood staring into each other's eyes in silence for one whole minute. There were even entire travel tours rolled out for fans of the movie.
MOST CONTROVERSIAL FILM
Motel Mist directed by Prabda Yoon
This neo-fantasy film following a series of romances that occur within a love motel got pulled from screens by producer TrueVisions the day before it was meant to premiere due to various erotic scenes. Turns out, that was only the start of the controversy. Since the film hit theaters, there seems to be a polar divide between those who commend it for its innovative directing and visuals, and those who say it’s no more than a weird, seedy flick about aliens and dildos.
BEST RESTORED FILM
Santi Vina directed by Thavi Na Bangchang
Despite its initial release in 1954, when it became the first Thai film to win international awards, this period romance film never made it to the big screen in Thailand after the footage was damaged and lost. Sixty years later, the Thai Film Archive has restored and shown it for the first time to Thai audiences. It also screened at the Cannes Film Festival last year to much critical acclaim. Following the story of a blind man and his lover who are constantly fighting off haters who abuse him for his disability, this is not only an emotional love story but a gem in the history of Thai film.
BEST INDIE FILM
A Gas Station directed by Tanwarin Sukkhapisit
This film caught us by surprise due to a trailer which really didn’t do it justice. It follows a man who waits around for nearly 10 years at a gas station for his lover to show up, during which time nothing really changes—aside from the price of gas skyrocketing. On the surface, the costumes, acting and plot are so over-the-top, as if pulled from a garish '80s lakorn—but then you realize that’s exactly the point. In fact, it’s a story about doing something so melodramatic, unrealistic and unnatural as waiting around aimlessly for love to appear. It might not be for everyone, but this is one of the top movies of the year for those willing to dig a bit deeper.
THE FOREVER HEARTTHROB
Sunny Suwanmethanon (Mr Hurt, Porn Jak Fah)
It’d be just too weird to have a film awards without mentioning Sunny, who just gets better with age. This year he starred in two feel-good rom-coms, Porn Jak Fah and Mr. Hurt. Whether he’s playing the chilled-out, likeable piano tuner or the heartbroken tennis player, we’ll take him in all shapes and forms, year after year.
BEST COMING OF AGE FILM
Long Story Shorts - Lost in Blue directed by Aekaphong Saransate, Jirassaya Wongsutin, Paphawee Jinnasith
Consisting of three short films ("Glowstick", "Rain" and "That Day of the Month"), this movie follows the lives of high school students as they discover and try to understand sex, love and heartbreak. Filled with poignant, nostalgic moments, it was difficult not to shed a tear or two as the characters found themselves in situations all too real. Even more impressive is the fact that it was directed by three university students.
THE SO BAD IT’S GOOD AWARD
Luang Phee Jazz 4G directed by Poj Arnon
Following a badass-turned-monk and his outrageous antics, this almost-plotless comedy is seemingly nothing out of the ordinary filled as it is with slapstick humor, cheesy innuendos and cringe-worthy puns. But it kind of works. Well, according to the box office at least, where it raked in a total of B150 million in Bangkok cinemas alone to become the highest grossing film of 2016.
THE SO BAD IT’S BAD AWARD
Prik Gaeng (Senses from Siam) directed by Prasertsook Haemtanon, Ekaluk Anantasomboon
We were pleased to see that for once a Thai movie had stepped away from the holy trinity of horror, comedy and rom-com. But what appeared from the trailer to be an awesome foodie film with high potential turned out to be a complete and utter flop thanks to the lack of plot, flat acting and pointless dialogue. We’re still unsure whether the lead character wanted to open a restaurant, write a book, control his daughter’s love life or deliver loud, pointless speeches while no one listens.