HONG KONG: Peter Chan's musical movie "Perhaps Love'' racked up the most nominations in the 43rd Golden Horse Awards, but a fellow Hong Kong director's comeback film and a mainland Chinese newcomer's heist comedy also emerged as top contenders.
Accumulating fewer nominations but well represented in key categories were "After This Our Exile,'' Hong Kong director Patrick Tam's first movie in 17 years, and surprisingly, up-and-coming Chinese director Ning Hao's "Crazy Stone,'' a hilarious story about scrappy thieves who covet a precious stone.
"After This Our Exile" is the uncompromising, well-developed tale of a delinquent father set in Malaysia's ethnic Chinese community.
"After This Our Exile,'' a painstakingly told story of a deadbeat father's decline of fortune, is competing for best film, best original screenplay, best supporting actor for Goum Ian Iskandar and best actor for Aaron Kwok, a Hong Kong pop idol who's trying to become a serious actor.
Film buffs wonder whether Kwok, a surprise best actor winner last year for "Divergence,'' can repeat the feat.
He delivers an impressive performance in his lead role as a desperate gambler whose family falls apart.
Chan's "Perhaps Love,'' starring Zhou Xun, Takeshi Kaneshiro and Jacky Cheung, is up for 12 prizes in the Chinese-speaking world's equivalent of the Oscars, whose shortlist was announced late Monday.
The bulk of them are technical awards, but the movie is also in contention for best film, best director for Chan and best actress for China's Zhou, who has already dominated the Hong Kong movie awards circuit this year with her performance as a movie star caught between past and present loves.
"Crazy Stone,'' which has drawn comparisons to "Ocean's Eleven,'' received nominations for best screenplay, best director and best film.
The winners will be announced at an awards ceremony in Taipei, Taiwan on Nov. 25.Hong Kong director Johnnie To's stylish gangster film "Exiled'' and script writer-turned-director Su Chao-pin's horror film "Silk'' also offer serious competition.
Both movies and both directors are up for best film and best director.
Golden Horse jurors have injected an element of unpredictability into the best actor contest by naming two unheralded performers candidates.
Kwok and Chang Chen, nominated for his performance in "The Go Master'' as the strategy game standout Wu Qingyuan, will be considered front-runners, but Sam Lee ("Dog Eats Dog'') and Francis Ng ("Wo Hu'') could pull major upsets.
Chang appeared in "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.''
Lee, best known for his roles in independent Hong Kong director Fruit Chan's movies, qualified with a haunting performance as a renegade police officer obsessed with tracking down a brutal killer.
Ng is a Hong Kong B-list actor who's delivered an A-list performance in "Infernal Affairs II,'' and a Golden Horse win could provide the final push toward stardom.
Zhou is the woman to beat in the best actress competition.
Fellow mainland Chinese actress Siqin Gaowa is hampered by the lackluster script of "The Postmodern Life of My Aunt,'' about a middle-aged urbanite whose past catches up with her, and Lee Sin-je didn't shine in "Re-cycle.''
Hong Kong movie star Carina Lau is the unknown factor in this category.
She's nominated for the "Curiosity Kills the Cat,'' which was only recently released.Chinese director Feng Xiaogang's Hamlet-inspired epic "The Banquet,'' which stars Zhang Ziyi, had a disappointing showing.
It failed to make the cut for all the major awards, instead picking up nominations for best art direction, best music and best cinematography.
Another rising director, Taiwan's Leste Chen, gave home audiences something to root for as his subtly shot gay love story "Eternal Summer'' received four nominations. Lead actors Joseph Chang and Bryant Chang are both vying for best new performer and Joseph Chang is also on the shortlist for best supporting actor. - AP