A-pop! The Awards Season — An Asian American night at the Oscars, Grammys, and more

By Vivian Nguyen
Northwest Asian Weekly

It may still be chilly and dreary, but Asians have been heating up the awards scene like no other this past month! From film to music, February saw Asians and Asian Americans alike raking in nominations and wins across the media awards landscape.

Ang Lee accepting his Oscar. (Photo from Disney ABC)

Academy Award wins and nominations for Asians and Asian Americans

The 85th Academy Awards aired on Sunday, Feb. 24, and this year’s ballot featured Asian nominees in acting, producing, and musical capacities.

The adventure drama film “The Life of Pi” dominated at this year’s Oscars, receiving 11 nominations in numerous award categories, from Best Picture to Production Design. The movie, which is based on a 2001 novel from author Yann Martel, focuses on the philosophical and spiritual journey of a young Indian boy who finds himself shipwrecked with a Bengal tiger.

Ang Lee (Photo from Disney ABC)

Directed by Taiwanese American director Ang Lee, the film stars Indian actors Suraj Sharma, Irrfan Khan, Tabu, and Adil Hussain. Although “The Life of Pi” did not win Best Picture, Lee still snagged the Oscar in the Directing category. Overall, “The Life of Pi” was nominated for a total of 11 awards, and also took home an Academy Award in the Cinematography, Original Score, and Visual Effects award categories — more than any other film.

Ang Lee with wife Jane Lin (Photo from Disney ABC)

Other Academy Award nominees included Japanese costume designer Eiko Ishioka for her work on the comedy fantasy film “Mirror Mirror,” Indian Carnatic music vocalist Bombay Jayashri for singing the theme song for “The Life of Pi,” and the animated short “Adam and Dog” from Korean-born director Minkyu Lee.

Lastly, the Canadian drama film “War Witch” (also known by its French title, “Rebelle”) was nominated for the Foreign Language Film category, and features the screenplay and directorial work of Vietnamese Canadian screenwriter Kim Nguyen. “War Witch” focuses on the abduction of a 12-year-old girl who is forced to become a child soldier in the middle of a civil war in sub-Saharan Africa.

A big congrats to all the winners and nominees! What a fantastic representation of Asians at the 2013 Oscar Academy Awards.

Asian artists at the Grammys

Asians didn’t just shine at the Oscars. Earlier in February, the Grammys ushered in notable Asians who were either nominated or won awards for their accomplishments in music.

In particular, the late Indian musician Ravi Shankar, a famed sitar player who has been credited for influencing The Beatles, was posthumously awarded the Lifetime Achievement Grammy. His daughter, jazz singer Norah Jones, accepted the award on her father’s behalf.

Ravi Shankar (Photo by Fr. Dougal McGuire)

Although Shankar recently passed away in December 2012, Jones stated that her father had at least heard of the announcement for his award before passing.

Shankar was also awarded a Grammy in the Best World Music Album category. What makes this win even more endearing and notable is that Shankar’s other daughter, Anoushka Shankar, was also nominated in the same category.

Other Asian Grammy nominees included the Japanese American electro house DJ Steve Aoki for Best Dance/Electronica Album; Tamil British electronic and hip hop artist M.I.A. for Best Short Form Music Video; and Korean American comedian Margaret Cho for Best Comedy Album. Congrats to all the Grammy nominees, as well as to Shankar again for all his achievements posthumously.

Photo by Patrick van IJzendoorn

Latest updates in the film and television

Korean American actor Jon Cho recently welcomed a new baby daughter to his family. Cho currently stars in the dramedy television show “Go On,” and is well known for his roles in the three movies of the “Harold & Kumar” comedy film franchise, as well as for his role in the sci-fi remake of “Star Trek.” Congrats to both Cho and his wife, actress Kerri Higuchi.

And in final movie news, word on the street is that a sequel to the martial arts drama “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” is in the works. The acclaimed first film (which Lee also directed) was originally released in 2000, which makes this sudden decision for a sequel a little surprising and random.

The sequel will be adapted from the same five-volume material that inspired its predecessor, and for fans of the original, the sequel’s plot will reportedly continue to revolve around the character Yu Shu Lien, who was originally played by actress Michelle Yeoh.

No word yet if any of the original actors will reprise their roles, and it does not seem likely that Lee would return to direct. As such, I imagine diehard fans might want little to do with this sequel. Stay tuned to see how this all plays out. (end)

Vivian Nguyen can be reached at info@nwasianweekly.com.

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