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Award-giving bodies: Who gets the top plum?

Bashing celebrities seems to be a national pastime but the biggest draw for entertainment groupies today has got to be this award-giving season. And so, the question: Which is the most credible movie award-giving body?

Ahead of the pack is the Young Critics Circle (YCC). This young professional critics group from the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman and the Ateneo de Manila University hands out major film honors without hollering for help from sponsors. The members of the YCC may not be large as numbers go, but they are big enough to stun the current film-awards circle. These film buffs are dead earnest about their claim that other award presentations are sheer travesties, unlike the YCC’s simple ceremony, which pares down commercialism but gives more content and substance in honoring cinema’s greats.

We also hand it to the Gawad Urian of the Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino (MPP). Moviegoers make the effort to go to a theater to savor any kind of film, and the MPP’s mission—on their spare time apparently—is to review good Filipino movies that have become ever more rare. From the eyes of these critics from UP, Ateneo and the University of Santo Tomas come the deepest views of what makes this film or that great. Others may second-guess their judgments, but certainly the YCC and MPP have more credible and respectable shortlists of nominees.

For instance, and we mean no offense, the YCC and the MPP regarded the work of Vilma Santos in Everything About Her as not impressive enough. For one, Vilma Santos’s English in the movie was so thick for a classy doctorate degree-holder and fails to impress or sound strong as her character dictates.

In the main, the YCC’s advantage over the MPP is in its having a thicker file of documentation and testimony, which is irrefutable. The YCC, led by Dr. Patrick Flores and Prof. Jason Jacobo, publishes movie reviews on a more regular basis than the MPP and discusses the merits of the winner in a forum, which opens the public to the tedium and frustration of criticism. Dr. Bienvenido Lumbera, Ramon Magsaysay awardee for literature and the founding chair of MPP, cites the members’ teaching stint as a limiting factor to publish film reviews. (Tito Valiente, who teaches at the Ateneo, was this year’s president of the Manunuri and reviews film and TV shows in  BusinessMirror—Ed.)

From the files of winners, the YCC’s selections are a notch higher than the MPP’s. The YCC, with their exceptional academic credentials, believe that Vilma’s Urian Best Actress wins for Relasyon, Broken Marriage, Sister Stella L., Ipagpatawad Mo and Dekada ’70 are not as believable as those for Pahiram ng Isang Umaga, Dahil Mahal Kita: The Dolzura Cortez Story and Bata, Bata Paano Ka Ginawa? Then again, Nora Aunor was more powerful and dimensional in Bilangin ang Bituin sa Langit, for which she won most of the Best Actress awards but tied with Vilma for Pahiram for the Urian. West Virginia critic Antonio Salvador Jr. said, “Urian overlooked the heavyweight Nora Aunor for her depth and quiet brilliance in Himala, Ina Ka ng Anak Mo, Ikaw Ay akin and her bravura performance in Ang Totoong Buhay ni Pacita M.”

Moreover, movie enthusiasts believe the Society of Philippine Entertainment Editors (SPEEd), the newest addition to award groups (Famas, Film Academy of the Philippines, Enpress, Star, Metro Manila  Film Festival, Manila Film Festival, Catholic Mass Media Awards, Pasado, Tanglaw), is a big let-down. They would like to know Eddy’s criteria in judging its lineup of “bests”.  Can they come up with film reviews using their editorial pages like what YCC does? Or are they comfortable basing their winners on Filipino films that have won in the international filmfests, as what subsidiary award groups do? As far as I know, voting by secret ballots in an open contest is simply going against intellectualism.

And, surprise! The FAP after a four-year slumber, has announced the nominees for its Luna Awards in September. Veterans Nora Aunor, Charo Santos and Vilma Santos are out of the Best Actress race, while young actors Aljur Abrenica and Ronnie Alonte made it as Best Actor finalists.

Well, go figure this out: in 2013 the FAP awarded Angel Locsin for One More Try. She bested Nora Aunor, who won four international Best Actress awards for Thy Womb. Let’s thank the sponsors for now. See you in the next awards season.

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