Gawad Urian 2016: Nominations, Predictions, Omissions

It has been two years since the 39 year-old local critics’ award nominated (and awarded) a female filmmaker. Director Sari Raissa L. Dalena noted that in 4 years, only 3 women out of 38 directors were cited by the Gawad URIAN. Dalena, who has been making films since 1994, was last nominated in 2012 for her first full length feature, Ka Oryang (2011). Dalena failed to secure arguably deserving nominations for The Guerilla is a Poet (2013), Ang Kababaihan ng Malolos (2014), and Dahling Nick (2015). Between 1994 and 2016, there have been less than 60 Filipinas who direct films (some of them are US-based). Most of these filmmakers have yet to make more than two films. Hannah Espia won the Best Director award in 2014 for Transit (2013) effectively emerging victorious over more seasoned male counterparts. Between 1976 and 2015, only 3 women have won Best Director (Espia, Marilou Diaz Abaya, and Laurice Guillen).

The Gawad Urian, said to be Philippines’ answer to New York Film Critics Circle, was established in 1976 by 9 film critics/academicians (four of them actively working as filmmakers in their own rights) to effect some needed reforms when it comes to bestowing film citations. Living up to its name, Urian attempts to measure the quality of film’s aesthetics while carefully weighing in merits based on all the cinematic elements presented. Through the years, the group has been criticized for their “westernized” approach. Somehow, the group defend themselves as an organization that continues to enrich its knowledge of the film language by maintaining scholarly members. These members are supposedly convening at least twice in a month to watch, discuss, shortlist films for awards consideration.

This week, Urian, on its 39th edition, released their list of nominees, with Erik Matti’s Honor Thy Father leading the derby by 10 nominations, followed closely by Jerrold Tarog’s Heneral Luna with 9 nominations:

Best Picture

Heneral Luna – Artikulo Uno Productions, Taklub – Centerstage Productions, Anino sa Likod ng Buwan – Octobertrain Films/IdeaFirst Company, Honor Thy Father – Reality Entertainment, Imbisibol – Sinag Maynila/Solar Entertainment, ARI: My Life with a King – Holy Angel University Center for Kapampangan Studies, Bambanti – Solar Entertainment/Centerstage Productions/Sinag Maynila, Da Dog Show – Sans Cinema, Germany/Queen B Productions

Glaring Omissions:

Pepe Diokno’s Kapatiran, which is a quasi-documentary feature assembled from aural-visual fragments and vignettes both staged and shot on-the-fly, profoundly replicate the moral and socio-political corruption brought about by the “brotherhood” of men so deeply embedded in the patriarchal Filipino society it becomes an endless cycle of which its citizens are trapped.

Prime Cruz’s Sleepless is seemingly his filmic response to the proliferation of romcom fanfares that merely ramble along common tropes and formula. In this film about shared moments of insomnia, the restlessness is earnestly entrenched between netted drama and romance in the underlying poetry of comfortable silence and unspoken passion.

Predicted Winner:

In Manunuri’s Criteria for Film Evaluation (The Urian Anthology 1970-1979), it is expounded that “in the case of two films which are equally well-made, the film with the more significant subject matter” is given more preference. If that particularity is still in swing, Heneral Luna may win the prize.  

Best Director

Da Dog Show – Ralston Jover, Heneral Luna – Jerrold Tarog, Taklub – Brilliante Mendoza, Anino sa Likod ng Buwan – Jun Lana, Honor Thy Father – Erik Matti, Imbisibol – Lawrence Fajardo, ARI: My Life with a King – Carlo Enciso Catu, Bambanti – Zig Madamba Dulay, Apocalypse Child – Mario Cornejo, and Balikbayan # 1: Memories of Overdevelopment Redux III – Kidlat Tahimik

Glaring Omissions:
Bor Ocampo’s direction of Dayang Asu, a film about an aging henchman to a corrupt politician in a metaphorical dog-eats-dog setting, is straightforward and never for one second tiptoed to deliver its message. This film, which he has shopped for years for production grant, is intense and barefaced.

Lem Lorca (Water Lemon) never falters when it comes to pouring in his sentimentality without going to the pits of too much affectation. Each frame he constructs denotes craftsmanship carried with blood. And each narrative design entails portent of every genre known to arouse and entertain a passionate audience.    

We still think Ralston Jover’s best film to date is Hamog, a film that is suspiciously too real to have written on its own, and with the emotional consistency as thick and fresh as the blood that trickled from a very much acquainted source.

Predicted Winner:
Erik Matti (Honor Thy Father) seems to slide smoothly to the criteria of Manunuri: “effectively giving life to the screenplay while successfully presenting his view of the material by marrying all the film elements in the most creative way.”

Best Actor

John Arcilla – Heneral Luna, John Lloyd Cruz – Honor Thy Father, John Lloyd Cruz – A Second Chance, Ricky Davao – Dayang Asu, Jericho Rosales – Walang Forever, Dennis Trillo – Felix Manalo, Sid Lucero – Apocalypse Child, Jun Jun Quintana – Water Lemon, Luis Alandy – Anino sa Likod ng Buwan, Francisco Guinto – ARI: My Life with a King, Lou Veloso – Da Dog Show

Glaring Omissions: 

In Jover’s Hamog, Zaijan Jaranilla’s emotionally and physically demanding role of a young street wanderer way ahead of his years depicts urgency and empathy.   

Raymond Bagatsing’s caricaturized “Dahlin’ Nick” Joaquin is rather passionate, nothing less of eloquence and truth – although, the Manunuri may have stopped at the caricature and failed to decipher beyond appearances.

Predicted Winner:

John Lloyd Cruz's enigmatic and often heartbreaking portrayal of the social outsider in the world of fake religions and corporate greed in Honor Thy Father is particularly his career best performance, and most definitely tops the year's lists. 

Best Actress

Nora Aunor – Taklub, Annicka Dolonius – Apocalypse, LJ Reyes – Anino sa Likod ng Buwan, Angeli Bayani – Iisa, Alessandra de Rossi – Bambanti, Ces Quesada – Imbisibol, Jennylyn Mercado – Walang Forever, Mercedes Cabral – Da Dog Show

Glaring Omissions:

Perhaps, the Manunuri missed out that the best female performance of the year is dimmed by the fact that it is rotoscopically rendered. Veteran bit player Erlinda Villalobos (Manang Biring)’ well deserved titular role is more badass than Walter White, and more nuanced than any performance in living color.

Glaiza De Castro’s portrayal as a call center burnout is rather elegant and well-toned. It’s like watching a millennial version of Maggie Cheung in In The Mood for Love.

Predicted Winner:

Jennylyn Mercado (Walang Forever). Of late, Urian has somewhat marked its infamy for giving out this culturally popular category to an emerging dramatic star brazen enough to portray a role against type. But somehow, Mercado’s performance is terribly affecting, and her character work seems to have been mustered with balance and intensity. But then again, what amount of justification can surmount the odd that is Nora Aunor (Taklub)?

Supporting Actor

Julio Diaz – Taklub, Lou Veloso – Taklub, Tirso Cruz III – Honor Thy Father, JM de Guzman – Imbisibol, Bernardo Bernardo – Imbisibol, Micko Laurente – Bambanti, RK Bagatsing – Apocalypse Child, and Aljon Ibanez – Da Dog Show

Glaring Omissions:

OJ Mariano’s performance as a forlorn taxi driver putting up with his wife’s unveiled infidelity perfectly captures making a bomb that shatters even the most hardened wall, except his version of detonation is acted in the most subtle and honest way.

Also in Jover’s Hamog, Bor Lentejas extremely palpable street urchin in the verge of childhood collapse is simply unforgettable. How in the world is this missed?

Predicted Winner:

Tirso Cruz III (Honor Thy Father). Cruz is neither a villain nor an evil force around the corner. His essaying of a shady religious figure is miraculously multidimensional. He made his characterization buoy a person trapped between his theistic devotedness and his ceaseless materialistic desires

Supporting Actress

Rio Locsin – Iisa, Ana Abad Santos – Apocalypse Child, Gwen Zamora – Apocalypse Child, Mylene Dizon – Heneral Luna, Tessie Tomas – Water Lemon, Liza Dino – Toto, Cecile Yumul – ARI: My Life with a King

Glaring Omission:

Come on, Urian! WHERE IS MERYL SORIANO FOR HONOR THY FATHER? Is it because her screentime is much less than the titular character?  Or did someone in the group pitted her against the leading category, and that “less-screentime” totally did her no good?

Predicted Winner:

This is obviously between Tessie Tomas (Water Lemon) and Ana Abad Santos (Apocalypse Child).


Da Dog Show – Ralston Jover, Heneral Luna – Henry Francia, E.A Rocha, Jerrold Tarog, Taklub – Honeylyn Joy Alipio, Anino sa Likod ng Buwan – Jun Lana, Honor Thy Father – Michiko Yamamoto, Imbisibol – Herlyn Gail Alegre, John Paul Bedia; Ari: My Life with a King – Robby Tantingco, Water Lemon – Lilit Reyes, Dayang Asu – Bor Ocampo, and Bambanti – Zig Madamba Dulay

Glaring Omission:

Jen Chuaunsu’s Sleepless

Predicted Winner:

It’s actually a little fiddly to win a screenplay award for a historical film, but maybe somehow Henry Francia, E.A Rocha, Jerrold Tarog’s Heneral Luna may cut it this time. Otherwise, Herlyn Gail Alegre and John Bedia’s adaptation of Imbisibol may take away the prize.


Da Dog Show – Carlo Mendoza, Heneral Luna – Pong Ignacio, Taklub – Odyssey Flores, Anino sa Likod ng Buwan – Carlo Mendoza, Honor Thy Father – Ber Cruz, Apocalypse Child – Ike Avellana, Bambanti – Ma. Solita Garcia, and Felix Manalo – Rody Lacap

Glaring Omission:

Albert Banzon’s cinematographic work for Dayang Asu is simply astounding; perhaps his best work after Kalayaan (Alix, 2012).
Missing out to recognize Lee Meily’s creative persistence in Lem Lorca’s Water Lemon is utterly unforgivable.  

Predicted Winner:

Ike Avellana’s Apocalypse Child perceptibly wins this category.

Production Design

Da Dog Show – Deans Habal, Bambanti – Aped Santos, Water Lemon – Ben Payumo, Honor Thy Father – Ericson Navarro, Felix Manalo – Joel Bilbao, Edgar Martin Littaua, Danny Red; Bukod Kang Pinagpala – Harley Alcasid, and Imbisibol – Lawrence Fajardo, Roland Inocencio

Glaring Omission:

Aldrin Olaguer’s creativity is topnotch in Dayang Asu, even if this film is mostly set in exteriors.

Predicted Winner:

Joel Bilbao, Edgar Martin Littaua, and Danny Red in Felix Manalo


Da Dog Show – Kats Serraon, Heneral Luna – Jerrold Tarog, Taklub – Diego Marx Dobles, Anino sa Likod ng Buwan – Lawrence Ang, Honor Thy Father – Jay Halili, Imbisibol – Lawrence Fajardo, and ARI: My Life with a King – Carlo Francisco Manatad

Glaring Omission:

Mikee Dela Cruz (Dayang Asu) perfectly captures every beat drumming in the masterful urgency of Bor Ocampo’s direction.

Predicted Winner:

Lest people know, Kats Serraon (Da Dog Show) masterfully assembled and combined an ostensibly challenging amount of footage shot sporadically for almost half a decade. The result is a seamlessly and rhythmically sprawling film.


Water Lemon – Alessandra de Rossi, Heneral Luna – Jerrold Tarog, Taklub – Diwa de Leon, Honor Thy Father – Erwin Romulo, and ARI: My Life with a King – Jake Abella

Glaring Omission:

BP Valenzuela’s ambient synth-electro pop scoring for Sleepless is definitely one for the books.

Predicted Winner:

Erwin Romulo for Honor Thy Father


Heneral Luna – Mikko Quizon, Taklub – Paulito Homillano, Andrew Milallos, Dennis Payumo, Addiss Tabong;  Anino sa Likod ng Buwan – Albert Michael Idioma, Honor Thy Father – Mikko Quizon, Dayang Asu – Stephen Lopez, Sheka Ong; Felix Manalo – Albert Michael Idioma, ARI: My Life with a King – Gilbert Obispo, and Da Dog Show – Mark Locsin

Glaring Omission:

Drew Millalos for Water Lemon

Predicted Winner:

Mikko Quizon for Honor Thy Father

This year’s Natatanging Gawad Urian recipient is veteran cinematographer Romy Vitug.  Gawad Urian awards night is on June 21 at the Kia Theater in Cubao.

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  1. No predicted winner for Best Actor. Or should I predict JLC ties with himself?



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