The Oscars have been full of twists and turns in recent years, and the 2022 ceremony was no different. But despite the various awards collected last night, the Oscars story of the year was ultimately not that of Jane Campion dog power, by Paul Thomas Anderson Licorice Pizza or that of Denis Villeneuve Dunes. It was the Japanese movie drive my car, who, against all odds, managed to make their way from the corners of Japan’s independent film industry to find themselves competing for four major gongs. It went on to win the award for Best International Feature Film.
Ahead of last night’s ceremony, IMDB listed no less than 71 awards for Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s three-hour adaptation of Haruki Murakami, including a FIPRESCI award at Cannes, a BAFTA and a Golden Globe. At the Japanese Academy Awards ceremony in March, it won eight awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Screenplay. It now retains a place in history as the first Japanese film to compete for Best Picture at the Oscars – and the clamor is easily understandable. Hamaguchi’s subtle, humanistic cinematography in this tale of mourning, contemplation and catharsis offers a verisimilitude and naturalism that transcends the language barrier. It’s a movie that stays with you long after the credits roll.
drive my car‘The low-key Oscar win may not be quite a Parasite-repetitive moment, but it charts a welcome new path in one of the world’s great cinematic nations: Japan. Catch the film now while it’s still in theaters (or on MUBI in April) and come back here right after for tips on what to watch next, with this list of eight Japanese movies worth exploring afterwards. drive my car as your guide.