Manunuri snubs ‘Debosyon’, ‘Sana Dati’

The country’s oldest film critics group, the Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino, has announced today its nominations for the best of Philippine cinema in 2013, with Lav Diaz’s Norte: Hangganan ng Kasaysayan and Armando Lao’s Dukit leading the way with 10 nods apiece.

The two filmmakers are well-loved by the critics group, with Diaz previously nominated for Best Screenplay and Best Director six times each and two of his films winning the top prize (Batang West Side in 2002 and Ebolusyon ng Isang Pamilyang Pilipino in 2005), and Lao winning Best Screenplay five times (Takaw Tukso in 1987, Itanong Mo sa Buwan in 1989, Pila Balde in 2000, Tuhog in 2001, and La Vida Rosa in 2002).

The biggest surprise to me is the complete shutout of what I believe are two of last year’s most accomplished films: Alvin Yapan’s Debosyon and Jerrold Tarog’s Sana Dati. Of the ten active Manunuri members, only Tito Valiente regularly writes reviews (for Business Mirror) and in his incisive review of Debosyon, he expressed his disappointment with the film’s failure to absolutely mesmerize, citing some flaws in the narrative and the weak acting of Mara Lopez as a mythic figure. Even then, I was totally shocked to find that the film did not merit even one nomination, considering that it’s so well-thought out and intricately handled, and that music by Teresa Barrozo and Jireh Pasano is for the books.

No one from the Manunuri reviewed Sana Dati so no one knew (apart from themselves) what they thought of the film. Well, apparently, they have no love for it whatsoever. I have a few issues with the film myself but it’s unthinkable how they could ignore the film’s superb technical work. Remember, Urian is not YCC: it recognizes (or used to recognize) individual accomplishments per category and does not require that a film has to be good first as a whole film before it can get recognized for its parts (remember Solenn Heusaff’s nomination for the lugubrious Yesterday Today Tomorrow?).

Predictably, the group left out of its nominations off-kilter projects that are not elderly-friendly, such as Bukas Na Lang Sapagkat Gabi Na, Iskalawags, Ang Pagbabalat ng Ahas, Lukas Nino, and La Ultima Pelicula, to name some.

It also failed to recognize for Best Cinematography some of the most gorgeously shot films of 2013: Puti, Salvi, Boy Golden, Lauriana, and La Ultima Pelicula.

The biggest acting snub is Dick Israel for Badil, who is the best thing in the film in my opinion. They also ignored Joel Torre’s work in Kabisera, Lovi Poe and TJ Trinidad (Sana Dati), Krystle Valentino (Purok 7), Gloria Sevilla (Boy Golden), and Joey Paras (Babagwa).

The Manunuri and YCC rarely pick the same Best Film winner (the last time it happened was 10 years ago with Babae sa Breakwater) so it doesn’t look too good for Porno. But I hope it still wins something. The best hope would be Carlo Aquino for Supporting Actor.

The five frontrunners are Norte, Dukit, OTJ, Porno, and Transit.

Here are my predictions:

Picture: Norte

Actor: Joel Torre, OTJ

Actress: Cherie Gil, Sonata 

Supporting Actor: Carlo Aquino, Porno

Supporting Actress: Angel Aquino, Porno

Direction: OTJ

Screenplay: Norte

Production Design: OTJ

Music: Riddles of My Homecoming

Cinematography: Norte

Editing: Transit

Sound: Norte

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