‘Drive My Car’ is the first Japanese film to win the Best Picture Oscar

Japanese director Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s “Drive My Car” received Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best International Feature on Tuesday, the first time a Japanese film has been nominated for Best movie.

The brooding three-hour drama, based on a short story of the same name by author Haruki Murakami, features a widower, played by Hidetoshi Nishijima, who comes to terms with his grief and finds solace with a female driver (Toko Miura ) after the death of his wife leaving secrets.

The film won many prestigious awards even before its Oscar nominations.

At last year’s Cannes Film Festival, Hamaguchi and screenwriter Takamasa Oe won Best Screenplay, and earlier this year ‘Drive My Car’ won four awards from the US National Society of Film Critics. . It also became the first Japanese film in 62 years to receive a Golden Globe Award for Best Picture in the non-English language category.

The last time a Japanese director was nominated for an Oscar was 36 years ago, when Akira Kurosawa was given the green light for “Ran.”

Reika Kirishima, 49 – who plays Nishijima’s character’s wife – said she was “full of gratitude and happiness” that the film was enjoyed beyond Japan.

Japanese film critic Sachiko Watanabe said of the works nominated for Best Picture this year, Hamaguchi’s film probably portrays human relationships the most profoundly.

At a regular press conference, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno called the Oscar nominations a “splendid feat”.

Noting that the government has supported the production of “Drive My Car” and its overseas promotion, Matsuno said the government will “strengthen our film promotion efforts to help create attractive films.”

So far, the 2019 South Korean film “Parasite” is the only non-English language film to win Best Picture at the Oscars, which will be presented in Los Angeles on March 27.

Overall, Jane Campion’s gothic western “The Power of the Dog” led Tuesday’s Oscar nominations, fending off a crowded field of films from a year in which COVID-weary audiences slowly returned to movie theaters.

The film about a repressed 1920s cattle rancher in Montana released by Netflix won 12 nods ahead of next month’s Oscar gala, including Best Director – making Campion the first woman author to be nominated twice in the Oscars. history of the Oscars.

“The Power of the Dog” was also nominated for Best Picture and landed nods for Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst, Jesse Plemons and Kodi Smit-McPhee.

Campion was last nominated 28 years ago for “The Piano.”

The sprawling sci-fi epic ‘Dune’ landed in second place overall, picking up 10 nominations including Best Picture, despite its director Denis Villeneuve being overlooked by the Academy of Arts and Sciences. the cinema.

As expected, the adaptation of Frank Herbert’s sprawling novel set on a desert planet plagued by monstrous sandworms scored well in all technical categories, including cinematography, visual effects, and sound.

A withdrawn actor (Hidetoshi Nishijima) and his equally reluctant driver (Toko Miura) become confidants in Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s “Drive My Car,” adapted from the work by Haruki Murakami. | © 2021 ‘DRIVE MY CAR’ FILM PARTNERS

Other coveted directing slots went to Kenneth Branagh for the black-and-white childhood drama “Belfast” and Steven Spielberg for the musical “West Side Story,” with each film earning seven nominations.

Spielberg’s decision to remake the most honored musical in Oscar history had been criticized as unnecessary by some, but it won over voters to earn a nomination for best picture and another for supporting actress. ‘Ariana DeBose as Anita.

The achievement category was completed by Paul Thomas Anderson for “Licorice Pizza”.

Hopes that larger-than-life, unabashed commercial box office hits like “Spider-Man: No Way Home” and 007’s release “No Time To Die” could enter the best picture race have been thwarted. .

The $1.8 billion-grossing ‘Spider-Man’ film picked up just one visual effects nomination, while Daniel Craig’s latest James Bond film earned three nods.

‘Wide-open’

As widely predicted, frontrunner Will Smith was recognized for his portrayal of the father of tennis greats Serena and Venus Williams on “King Richard,” which earned six nods in total.

He faces Cumberbatch, Denzel Washington (“The Tragedy of Macbeth”), Andrew Garfield (“Tick, tick…BOOM!”) and Javier Bardem (“Being the Ricardos”).

Lady Gaga was the surprise omission in the Best Actress category, with ‘House of Gucci’ picking up just one nomination – for Best Hair and Makeup.

Instead, Best Actress will be contested by Jessica Chastain (“The Eyes of Tammy Faye”), Olivia Colman (“The Lost Daughter”), Penelope Cruz (“Parallel Mothers”), Nicole Kidman (“Being the Ricardos”) ) and Kristen Stewart (“Spencer”).

The plethora of stars will be welcomed by the Academy, following last year’s little-watched Oscar gala, which featured smaller films barely known to the general public.

Giant cinematic shows – many of which were pushed back to 2021 in the first year of the coronavirus pandemic – are competing against arthouse films that have gained traction on streaming sites in this year’s diverse race at Hollywood’s biggest awards.

“Last year we had a lot more independent Oscars. … This year was about the return of big cinema, big movies and studio movies,” said one Academy voter, who asked not to. not be named.

“The race is wide open this year,” Deadline award columnist Pete Hammond said.

The 94th Academy Awards are scheduled for March 27.

In line with COVID-19 guidelines, the government is urging residents and visitors to exercise caution if they choose to visit bars, restaurants, music venues and other public spaces.

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