Despite a weak first six months, 2015 produced some of the best dramas in years. Here are some of my top picks. What are yours?
Best Make-up and Styling: Empress of China: Wu Zetian
As the woman with probably the most outfits in drama history, Wu Zetian’s stylist also does a great job of making Fan Bingbing look gorgeous in all outfits and ages, many of the stylings being based on history.
Best production design: Nirvana in Fire
Best costume design: Nirvana in Fire
Prince Jing is one of the best dressed ancient characters in a long time. Elegant and intricate, his wardrobe consists of a whooping fifteen outfits (three armor outfits!). It helps that the historical accuracy of the series are done under the guidance of Central Drama professor Zhang Xiaolong of The Legend of Zhenhuan fame (fun fact: Zhang Xiaolong was Wang Kai’s posture professor at Central and was the one who recommended Wang Kai for his first drama. )
Best cinematography: Nirvana in Fire
With every scene carefully designed and some of the most decent CGI around, every screencap of Nirvana in Fire is wallpaper worthy. I especially love their use of doors to frame the scene. See here for an analysis and here for a movie-styled MV.
Best animated (?) feature: The Monster Hunt (the movie)
From the director of Shrek 3, The Monster Hunt is hilarious, cute, and even a musical! It also has probably the best animation in China in a long time.
Best supporting actress: Dilireba in Diamond Lover
The only actress who made her name this year is the adorable Dilireba. Thanks to her decent acting, solid line-reading, cute face, killer body, and fun personality, she already has three dramas as the female lead lined up next year.
Best supporting actor: Wang Kai in The Disguiser
Wang Kai took a highly-educated servant and made him one of the most beloved and complex characters of the year. Ming Cheng is literally a different person to everyone in the show, and often must balance multiple emotions in one scene. Given that he was able to shine through in a series of small roles, I hope Wang Kai will be nothing but brilliant in the future.
Best actor: Jin Dong in The Disguiser
Triple agent, multiple disguises, what more can I say? It takes a lot to make Ming Lou believable or even likable, but Jin Dong did it and made Ming Lou one of the most successful characters of the year. May I also add that back in 2009, Hera said she had hoped he would be famous by 40, and he’s 39 this year?
Best actress: ??? Recommendations?
Best writing (original screenplay): Ban Shu Legend (Zhang Weiwei)
Ban Shu Legend is one of the best scripts coming from Yu Zheng workshops in a long time. The female lead is sassy but not annoying, the romance trusting and not melodramatic, the jokes funny but not cliched. Plus, Zhang Zhehan is beautiful here.
Sample dialogue (paraphrased):
Banshu: I’m going to steal something.
A: Why are you dressed in all black? Everyone is going to know you’re a thief in that outfit.
Banshu: But all the thieves in books wears black.
Best writing (adapted screenplay) : The Disguiser (Zhang Yong)
Believe it or not, the biggest ship of the year did not exist in the original. It’s hard to believe the same characters full of conviction, compassion, and trust in each other were written by the same person who thought it was laudable for her protagonists to adopt someone, send them to receive the highest educations in the world, only to treat them as a servant.
Regardless of whether you ship them or not ( because I also ship Ming Lou X Me and Ming Cheng X Me), it is hard to find a pair who places so much trust in each other, not just because of a romantic love, but because of a common love for the world.
Best dramas (in alphabetical order):
Ban Shu Legend – The best romantic comedy of the year. Cute, original, funny, and not too melodramatic. Plus, the male cast is gorgeous.
The Disguiser – Ming Lou and Ming Cheng broke through fandoms, uniting fans of American movies, Japanese animes, Korean idol dramas, and Chinese melodramas alike. The drama and the ship became the biggest surprise of the year, with no one expecting it to blow up until it was everywhere.
Nirvana in Fire – An intriguing plot, a gorgeous cast, and a meticulous crew made this epic the only adaptation that did not disappoint this year.
WuXin: The Monster Killer – With a unique set-up of a ghost hunter in the Republican era, quick wits and believable romances, Wuxin saved the drama world from its six-month drought