29 Mar – It was exciting news for Japan, after it was announced that Ryusuke Hamaguchi's critically-acclaimed "Drive My Car" has won Best International Film at the 94th Academy Awards.
The film, which bested other contenders including Denmark's "Flee" and Norway's "The Worst Person in the World", is based on a short story of the same name by famous Japanese author Haruki Murakami.
Although it bagged just that one accolade, it is noted that the film still made a record on its own, as it was also nominated in the Best Picture category (making it the first time a Japanese movie is nominated in the said category), as well as Best Director for Ryusuke Hamaguchi and Best Adapted Screenplay for Hamaguchi and co-writer Takamasa Oe.
It is noted that it has been 36 years since the last Japanese filmmaker, Akira Kurosawa, was nominated in the Best Director category.
The movie, which revolves around the growing relationship between an aging widowed actor and a 23-year-old female driver, has been going around the film festival circuits last year, winning three awards at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival including Best Screenplay and FIPRESCI Prize. It also won Best International Film awards and similar accolades at the New York Film Critics Circle, the Chicago Film Critics Association Awards, the Golden Globe Awards, as well as Gotham Independent Film Awards among others.
On the other hand, Japanese audiences expressed hope that the film's success would also benefit the original author, who has won multiple book prizes throughout his career.
It is noted that "Drive My Car" is the second Japanese film to win in the Best International Feature Film category, following Yojiro Takita's "Departures," which won in 2009. Back then, the category was named Best Foreign Language Film.