Mark Lee misses out on Best Leading Actor trophy but local film Number 1 still wins at Golden Horse

Actor Mark Lee arrives on the red carpet at the 57th Golden Horse film awards in Taipei on Nov 21, 2020.
Actor Mark Lee arrives on the red carpet at the 57th Golden Horse film awards in Taipei on Nov 21, 2020.PHOTO: AFP
(First row, from left) Mark Lee and his wife, Catherine Ng; Number 1's makeup and costume designer Raymond Kuek. (Second row, from left) Director Ong Kuo Sin, actress Kiwebaby Chang, and the film's writer and supporting actor Jaspers Lai.
(First row, from left) Mark Lee and his wife, Catherine Ng; Number 1's makeup and costume designer Raymond Kuek. (Second row, from left) Director Ong Kuo Sin, actress Kiwebaby Chang, and the film's writer and supporting actor Jaspers Lai.PHOTO: STARHUB
(From left) Keon Chia, Tan Boon Wah, Hooi Yuan Teng and Edward Chen pose with the Best Original Film Song award for "Your Name Engraved Herein" at the 57th Golden Horse Awards in Taipei, on Nov 21, 2020.
(From left) Keon Chia, Tan Boon Wah, Hooi Yuan Teng and Edward Chen pose with the Best Original Film Song award for "Your Name Engraved Herein" at the 57th Golden Horse Awards in Taipei, on Nov 21, 2020.PHOTO: REUTERS
Director Chen Yu-hsun (5th from left) and others pose with the Best Narrative Feature award for "My Missing Valentine" at the 57th Golden Horse Awards in Taipei, on Nov 21, 2020.
Director Chen Yu-hsun (5th from left) and others pose with the Best Narrative Feature award for "My Missing Valentine" at the 57th Golden Horse Awards in Taipei, on Nov 21, 2020.PHOTO: REUTERS
(From left) Taiwanese actress Nayeli, Singapore photographer-turned-actor Chuando Tan and Taiwanese Chang Tzu-lei.
(From left) Taiwanese actress Nayeli, Singapore photographer-turned-actor Chuando Tan and Taiwanese Chang Tzu-lei.PHOTO: STARHUB

SINGAPORE - Home-grown funnyman Mark Lee, nominated for Best Leading Actor at the Golden Horse Awards, went home empty-handed on Saturday night (Nov 21), but the Singapore film he starred in picked up a trophy.

The local musical comedy Number 1, in which Lee plays a retrenched man who finds a job as a drag queen, won the award for Best Makeup and Costume Design.

The film's stylist Raymond Kuek, a Malaysian, accepted the award with the film's director, Singaporean Ong Kuo Sin.

Singaporean costume designer Azni Samdin was not at the ceremony but posted news of the win on his Instagram account.

Visibly thrilled when accepting his award, Mr Kuek thanked the cast and crew of Number 1, the Golden Horse Awards judges and his parents for giving birth to a "short but talented man".

He ended his speech by speaking in Malay: "Thank you to the make-up artists and the team who made this film so good. Terima kasih (Thank you)."

Ong said: "We're going to take this award and what it means back to Singapore and Malaysia and tell the film-makers there: 'If we can do it, so can you!'"

Lee, 52, who lost the Best Leading Actor honour to Taiwanese Mo Tzu-yi for his role in Dear Tenant, told The Straits Times: "Even though I didn't win, I gained a lot from my trip here and experienced an internationally prestigious film festival and awards ceremony and got to know many people in the film industry.

"I hope my nomination isn't just validation for me alone, but can also be an encouragement for people in Malaysia and Singapore working in film. Never give up on your movie dreams."

Another Singaporean who went home happy was songwriter Tan Boon Wah, who took home the Best Original Film Song award for Your Name Engraved Herein - the theme song for the homosexual-themed romance movie of the same name.

The song, performed by Crowd Lu and the film's actor Edward Chen, was written by Tan and Malaysian songwriters Keon Chia and Hooi Yuan Teng. The trio collected their award with Chen, while Lu joined in from Kaohsiung in southern Taiwan via video call.

Tan said onstage: "I'm Tan Boon Wah from Singapore. I've watched the Golden Horse Awards ceremony since I was a kid. I never thought I'll be up here one day, making my country proud."

The 44-year-old, a corporate real estate lawyer by day, also thanked his law firm Allen & Gledhill, where he is a partner: "Thank you for allowing me to fulfil my dream of being a lawyer while giving me the space to pursue my passion in music."

The biggest winner of the night was the whimsical fantasy romance My Missing Valentine, which took home five awards, including Best Narrative Feature and Best Director for Chen Yu-hsun.

Dramedy Classmates Minus also did well with three awards, including Best Supporting Actor for Nadow Lin, better known as the host of variety series College Talk (2007-2016).

The event was one of the rare major awards ceremonies held this year amid the global Covid-19 pandemic. Taiwan has kept its Covid-19 situation largely under control, and attendees from overseas had to quarantine for 14 days. Guests at the glitzy event mostly wore specially customised Golden Horse Awards masks when they were not appearing onstage.

Golden Horse festival chairman and Oscar-winning director Ang Lee thanked attendees for showing up despite having to adhere to Covid-19 restrictions.

Chinese films were notably absent due to China's ongoing boycott of the ceremony - long dubbed the Oscars of Chinese cinema. Rising tensions between Taipei and Beijing led China to issue a boycott of the awards show last year.

Taiwanese films and a handful of Hong Kong, Malaysian and Singapore works populated the nominations.

Another Singapore-related project, the thriller Precious Is the Night - a Singapore-Taiwan production - did not win in either of its categories in cinematography and make-up and costume design.

The upcoming film, which is set in 1960s Singapore, is led by Singaporean photographer-turned-Internet-star Chuando Tan.


Best Leading Actress winner Chen Shu-fang (left) and Best Leading Actor winner Mo Tzu-yi pose with their awards at the 57th Golden Horse Awards in Taipei, on Nov 21, 2020. PHOTO: REUTERS

The biggest individual winner of the night was veteran Taiwanese actress Chen Shu-fang, who took home both Best Supporting Actress and Best Leading Actress awards for her roles in Dear Tenant and Little Big Women respectively.

This was the first nomination for Chen, who is in her 80s, in her 63-year-long career. She was also nominated for Best Original Film Song as a performer.

Tearing up when she collected her Best Leading Actress trophy, she said: "The trophy is so heavy. But even so, I will clutch it tightly."