The Bangkok Critics Assembly played it safe and awarded The Overture five awards, adding to the accolades already heaped upon it by the Thailand National Film Awards.
Directed by Itthisunthorn Wichailak, the prizes included Best Picture and Best Director. "I was fortunate to have such perfect cast members. Without them, the film would not have won these awards," Itthisunthorn was quoted as saying in The Nation.
Other nominees, according to the Bangkok Post, were the horror box-office topper, Shutter, the historical drama Siam Renaissance, the surreal romantic comedy Citizen Dog and the sharp-edged social critique Ai-Fak (The Judgement).
The Overture marked a successful return to the Thai film industry for Itthisunthorn, who last directed a film in 1993, Look Bah Thiao Laa Sud (The Latest Momentum of Madness), which won four awards from the Bangkok Critics Assembly including Best Film and Best Director.
The Overture also won for Best Supporting Actor, Best Score and Best Editing, almost half of the 11 awards presented by the assembly, which was established in 1990.
"I wish to dedicate this award to Khun Duangkamol Limcharoen [the respected late film producer] who should be credited for making this project possible," Nonzee Nimibutr, a veteran filmmaker who produced The Overture, was quoted as saying in The Nation.
The Best Supporting Actor award went to Pongpat Wachirabunchong, who portrayed an overbearing military officer in The Overture.
Best Actor and Best Actress awards repeated the National Film Awards - Pitisak Yaowananon won for Ai-Fak and Ann Thongprasom won for The Letter.
The Best Supporting Actress award went to Jarunee Boonlek for her portrayal of a Karen maid in the slapstick spy spoof, Jaew (M.A.I.D).
The best screenplay award went to Ai-Fak screenwriter Somkiat Wituranich, whose script is an adaptation of the Seawrite Award-winning novel Kam Pipaksaka by Chart Kobjitti.
Three other nominees wrote original screenplays: Yuthlert Sippapak for Sai Lor Fah, Wisit Sasanatieng for Citizen Dog, and Itthisunthorn Wichailuck for The Overture. Kongdej Jaturanrasamee's script for The Letter was an an adaptation of a Korean film.
According to the Post, an issue has been raised among observers about whether it's time to break down the screenplay division into original and adapted screenplay awards, to recognise the demands of the two approaches
Two technical awards, best art direction and best cinematography, went to the expensive Siam Renaissance, a revisionist historical tale about Western colonisation during the reign of King Rama V.
The Assembly also honored veteran comedian Prachuab Ruekngamdee, presenting him with a Lifetime Achievement Award. According to the Post, Prachuab is a perennial supporting actor who has appeared in nearly 100 films since the 1960s.
To the surprise of many, the Post's Kong Rithdee points out, Apichatpong Tropical Malady, an arthouse favourite that has won recognition from film festivals abroad, was not nominated in any of the categories.
The popcorn favorite, Shutter, helmed by two young directors Pakpoom Wongpoom and Banjong Pisanthanakul, missed out in all six categories in which it was nominated, but received a special mention by HBO as the biggest Thai box-office earner of 2004.
(Cross-published at Rotten Tomatoes)