Blind Shaft, House of Flying Daggers and Warriors of Heaven & Earth have all made the initial nominations for this year's Best Picture Oscar.
Starring Zhang Ziyi and Andy Lau and directed by Zhang Yimou, Flying Daggers topped Chinese box office records this year, grossing 153 million yuan (US$18.5 million), ahead of Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. It won this year's Best Foreign Language Film at the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, reflecting international acclaim from both filmgoers and critics.
Li Yang's Blind Shaft began showing in American cinemas in February this year and won the top narrative award at the second annual Tribeca Film Festival because of its engaging plot.
Warriors of Heaven & Earth, directed by He Ping, hit US screens this September. Starring famed actor Jiang Wen and Japanese idol Kichi Nakai, the film weaves a story of battle, comradeship and honor.
Another blockbuster, Hero, director Zhang Yimou's first martial-arts epic, topped the North American box office for two weeks but was not nominated for the 77th Academy Awards. This was due to premiering too early in China in December 2002, since only films screened from January 1, 2003 are eligible for consideration.
Only five of the 267 nominated films will make the Best Picture shortlist, to be announced on January 25 after voting by members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Studios are desperately lobbying for voters' attention with a blitz of advertisements in preparation for the final frenzied phase of Hollywood's awards season.
Oscar pundits say that Martin Scorsese's Howard Hughes biopic The Aviator, Clint Eastwood's boxing flick Million Dollar Baby and Alexander Payne's road movie Sideways are the most likely contenders for Best Picture.
(China.org.cn, CRI.com December 31, 2004)