红星大奖 Star Awards 2015 Rocket Award Contenders
It’s the awards season at MediaCorp once more! As they will move campus soon, it’s goodbye to Caldecott. A pity, really, because I think it’s such a classy name.
Last year, I wrote an analysis on the artistes I believed could win the Rocket Award, “in honour of a MediaCorp artiste who have made most improvement in the performance of his/her respective field of profession for the past year” (Wikipedia). As I said then, all previous winners had been young and rising stars backed by a major production. They were also all male, but it seemed more of a coincidence. I then listed 5 contenders and 3 shout-outs, all of whom were young, rising stars except Bryan Wong, who had a storming performance as 刘阿满 in Gonna Make It 小小传奇.
None of my predictions came true. The Rocket Award eventually went to Priscelia Chan 曾诗梅 for her spiteful turn in The Journey: A Voyage 信约：唐山到南洋. Her victory is instructive, because it puts the iffy trends in perspective. The award has finally gone to a female, and someone in mid-career!
It is also worth noting that Priscelia was recognized for a single performance – rather than the aggregate of a year’s work – that went beyond her typical roles. It was thus entirely apt that she was dressed in her role for a prize presentation just earlier. A year late, but congrats!
The same seems to be true as well for the previous winners. (I’d argue that while Pornsak has always been well-received, Food Source 食在好源头 was indeed his first breakthrough. Pornsak for Best Variety Host!) Thus, for this year, I’ll look at specific standout performances. Of course, the Rocket Award celebrates improvement, so there’s never going to be a chance for the likes of Rui En or Chen Hanwei, no matter how impressive they have been this past year.
1. Aloysius Pang 冯伟衷
Role: 赵克已 in Against The Tide 逆潮
He was hand-picked by the scriptwriter for this role, and the latter’s trust was duly rewarded. Among the 8 Dukes, Aloysius has arguably appeared the quietest and most mild-mannered one. Yet onscreen, he fits the rebellious type. It’s an advantage, because complicated roles can offer more room for expression. Here, he fulfills some of his promise with truly frightening scenes against Zheng Geping and Rui En. He left a deep impression despite starring for only 7 episodes, and is rewarded with a Best Supporting Actor nomination. The limited airtime will count against him, but exposure in recent dramas Good Luck 百岁大吉 and Tiger Mum 虎妈来了 may yet boost his hopes. After all, fellow Dukes Desmond Tan 陈泂江 and Romeo Tan 陈罗密欧 have won it, so why not Aloysius?
2. Shaun Chen 陈泓宇
Roles: 连文鼎 in Blessings 祖先保佑 and 胡佳 / 张佳 in The Journey: Tumultuous Times 信约：动荡的年代
How often do you get a standout, breakout role? In Shaun’s case, really rare, till he got TWO in the space of months. His comedic turn in time-travel hit Blessings was pivotal to the show’s success, but it was soon eclipsed by the lead role of 胡佳 in the year-end blockbuster. To be sure, it was a fantastic role for anyone to have. The back story paved the way for success, with child actor Damien Teo outstanding and young actor Zong Zijie commendable. Add the continual scenes with Chen Hanwei, whose monumental display turned his character from most hateful to most sympathy-worthy, and you see how great this role is. Nonetheless, it was no given that Shaun would pull it off. He sure did, turning into the hero we all tune in to despite the later middling plot. Thus, he ought to win this Rocket Award hands-down. Yet as Priscelia’s subsequent loss to Rebecca Lim in Best Supporting Actress showed, other considerations may be at play. This is possibly his one big chance, and I’m sure Shaun wouldn’t mind getting the Best Actor instead (if it were a choice).
3. You Yi 有懿
Role: News Presenter
I’m not a fan of her acting in Blessings, or any dramas to date for that matter. But You Yi has gone down a route few, if any, have attempted. She began as a host of Good Morning, Singapore 早安你好, which yielded her a Best Current Affairs Presenter crown. That sparked her transition, as she started moving into showbiz. Apart from the odd acting role (sad to say, but often truly odd), she has hosted variety shows and is currently a co-host of the interview segments in the reformulated evening news. She has a Best Info-Ed Programme Host nomination this year. If ever You Yi can win the Rocket Award, it’s this year. That said, there is no real standout role to help argue her case.
4. Paige Chua 蔡琦慧
Role: 张静璇 in Against The Tide 逆潮
After an extended absence from dramas, Paige nets a good role and has indeed surprised greatly. To be frank, she used to be one of the first names on my list of actors/actresses who cannot act. The break has helped, as did the complexities of her role and the quality of sparring partners (Christopher Lee, Rui En). She will be in contention when the Best Supporting Actress is read out. I fancy Paige’s chances over Aloysius’ because of her greater airtime in this particular drama. Paige’s improvement is also more obvious. However, she might have been overshadowed somewhat by not just Rui En, but also Carrie Wong (as Scarlet / 狄遥). If Paige does win the Rocket Award, I’d think the Best Supporting Actress will certainly go elsewhere instead. Either would be a great accomplishment for Paige, that goes without saying. Neither would still mean a good comeback year.
Carrie Wong 黄思恬
Memorable performances as Scarlet in Against The Tide and 糖水妹 in The Journey: Tumultuous Times, but I don’t think this counts as improvement, since this is only her debut year on Channel 8. Instead, she will be up for a feisty battle with Aloysius Pang for Best Newcomer Award. Both really deserve it.
Julie Tan 陈欣淇
It’s like Rebecca Lim last year. Julie is the only repeated name from my list last year, but I kind of think she has been too good in the first place to win the Rocket Award. After two lead performances in 2013 against younger casts, she pitted herself against experienced artistes like Pierre Png and Huang Biren. I think instead that Julie will follow Rebecca in winning Best Supporting Actress for her role as 赵晓敏 in most-watched drama Three Wishes 三个愿望. Joanne Peh is a potential banana skin, though.
Zhang Zhen Huan 张振寰
I’ve always been confused about Zhang Zhen Huan. I’m frankly quite surprised that he’s included in the 8 Dukes. He emerged in a really dry period for new faces, and I’d have put him along the likes of Andie Chen 陈邦鋆 instead. That aside, he’s always in contention for Best Supporting Actor, and is nominated again this year. A good year of progress, but not to the extent the Rocket Award looks for.
Zhu Xiufeng 朱秀凤
Well, you never know! Her depiction of a creepy hunched tissue-paper-selling old lady in Three Wishes 三个愿望 was certainly memorable. And a pivotal role for plot development at that! That said, it still seems too wicked to bypass all the above contenders for her. Who wants a wishing coin? 是要付出代价的!
The Rocket Award interests me the most, because it is first of all an open contest. That gives much room for imagination, unlike the main professional categories. (I can’t see Shaun Chen or Chen Hanwei losing in their categories, but they could if they have Jeanette Aw’s luck!) Second, it introduces a different dimension for celebrating efforts. Some awards are simply out of reach because certain actors and actresses are too consistently stellar. The Rocket Award, hence, gives professional recognition where it is due.
We should always laud those who seek to improve themselves, whether they are relative newcomers or in mid- or even late-career. Whether they win or not, I hope this post will give encouragement to these artistes I’ve pointed out. You have all done well!
Images courtesy of Google; click for original sources.