‘Always’ wins dozen kudos in Japan

Helmer Yamazaki picks up director prize

“Always — Sunset on Third Street,” Takashi Yamazaki’s nostalgic ensemble drama set in Tokyo circa 1958, scooped 12 Japan Academy Awards on Friday night, including picture.

Yamazaki picked up the director prize and Hidetaka Yoshioka actor for his portrayal of a seedy failed novelist who takes in an orphan boy. Supporting prizes went to Shinichi Tsutsumi and Hiroko Yakushimaru, while Koyuki (“The Last Samurai”) received a special actress prize.

Only award to escape the “Always” landslide was actress, which went to veteran Sayuri Yoshinaga for her perf as a gritty pioneer woman in 19th century Hokkaido in “Year One in the North.”

The only other film to garner 12 Japan Academy Awards was Yoji Yamada’s “The Twilight Samurai” in 2003. In 1997 Masayuki Suo’s “Shall We Dance?” swept the board with 13 prizes.

Featuring a meticulous re-creation of 1950s Tokyo by Yamazaki and his CG staff, “Always” became a must-see for Japan’s baby boomers and grossed $27.6 million, the seventh-highest domestic take for 2005.

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