Close Best Actress race

Taiwan actress Chen Shiang Chyi displays a trophy after winning the Best Leading Actress during the Golden Horse Film Awards in Taipei on November 22, 2014.

TAIPEI - Gong Li descended on the Golden Horse Awards last Saturday glittering in gold and dressed like a winner.

She did not win Best Actress for her role as an amnesiac wife in the Chinese romance Coming Home, however, losing a close contest to Chen Shiang-chyi, the only Taiwanese winner in the top categories this year, said Apple Daily yesterday.

Actress Joan Chen, who headed the jury that included director Stanley Kwan and actor Aaron Kwok, said the group had the longest and most heated debate about the Best Actress nominees, reported the newspaper.

In the first round, Chen Shiang-chyi (right, who plays a lonely, middle-aged woman who discovers tango in the drama Exit), Gong and Vicki Zhao (who plays a villager who might have raised an abducted child in the melodrama Dearest) had the most defenders. Half an hour later, Zhao was eliminated. Only in the third round did Gong lose to Chen.

Joan Chen said: "Gong Li's role is the most difficult to play, and she is very precise. But Chen Shiang-chyi's performance is subtle and free, effortless and flowing."

Otherwise, China had a huge night, with the true-to-life drama Blind Massage winning Best Film and five other prizes and Chen Jianbin scoring a record win of Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor and Best New Director.

Best known as the Yongzheng emperor in Empresses In The Palace, a 2011 television show that was wildly successful in Taiwan, Chen made his directorial debut in A Fool, a village comedy in which he stars as a lout. His other winning role is in the Taiwanese romance Paradise In Service.

Accepting Best Actor, he thanked his alma mater, China's Central Academy of Drama, for "turning me from a fan into an actor".

His wife, actress Jiang Qinqin alias Shui Ling - who has worked with Taiwanese screenwriter Chiung Yao - kissed him on stage. Backstage, she said Taiwan was a "blessed place" for the couple.

Chen's Chinese co-star in Paradise In Service, Regina Wan, won Best Supporting Actress in a yellow, dragon-patterned dress. She said of Chen: "The emperor thinks I stole his clothes."

Ironically, the Golden Horse broadcast was blocked in China because of the inclusion of Kano, a Taiwanese baseball drama that portrays the island's Japanese colonial period in a positive light. Kano did not win any of the six awards it was named for, however. Another favourite, the Chinese detective thriller Black Coal, Thin Ice, had eight nominations but won only one prize, Best Art Direction.

GOLDEN HORSE WINNERS

Best Feature Film: Blind Massage

Best Director: Ann Hui, The Golden Era

Best Leading Actor: Chen Jianbin, A Fool

Best Leading Actress: Chen Shiang-chyi, Exit

Best Supporting Actor: Chen Jianbin, Paradise In Service

Best Supporting Actress: Regina Wan (right), Paradise In Service

Best New Director: Chen Jianbin, A Fool

Best New Performer: Zhang Lei, Blind Massage

Best Original Screenplay: Meeting Dr. Sun

Best Screenplay Adaptation: Blind Massage

This article was first published on November 24, 2014. Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.