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Theme Awards - The Sakuras

To wrap up January’s theme of Japanese female directors, I wanted to give out awards from a totally subjective jury of one (me). I am calling them the Sakuras (Japanese for cherry blossom) since at least three out of the five movies I watched this month featured cherry blossoms quite prominently.

Best Lead Performance

Anna Tsuchiya as Kiyoha in Sakuran

She saved the film from being pure spectacle, and she went against the stereotype of Japanese and Asian women being submissive.

Best Supporting Performance

Toma Ikuta as Rinko in Close-Knit

Ikuta manages to give a sensitive, nuanced performance as a transgender woman without making it seem like a parody.

Most Beautiful Screen Moment

A Silent Voice - The X’s on the faces to represent Ishida’s crippling insecurity and inability to look into people’s faces.

Most Beautiful Emotional Moment

Close-Knit, when Rinko’s mother accepts her son/daughter for who she is and makes fake breasts for her.

Best Director

Naoko Yamada - A Silent Voice

She manages to bring the maximum impact out of the story of great pain and redemption and couch it in gorgeous animation.

Best Picture

A Silent Voice

It still would work better as a miniseries, but it’s still a devastating story about adolescent cruelty and the need for empathy.

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