EMOTIONAL EPIC. Director Ryusuke Hamaguchi, right, accepts the award
for Drive My Car, from Japan, for best international feature film
at the Oscars on March 27, 2022 at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.
Hamaguchi’s film became the fifth from Japan to win the Oscar, the first
since Departures in 2008. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)
This image released by Janus Films and Sideshow shows Hidetoshi
Nishijima, left, and Toko Miura in a scene from Drive My Car.
Drive My Car won the Academy Award for best international feature
film. (Janus Films and Sideshow via AP)
From The Asian Reporter, V32, #4 (April 4, 2022), page 8.
Drive My Car wins Oscar award for best
By Andrew Dalton
The Associated Press
LOS ANGELES — The emotional epic from Japan, Drive My Car, won
the Academy Award for best international feature film last month.
Director Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s film became the fifth from Japan to win
the Oscar, the first since Departures in 2008.
The win for the three-hour journey through grief, connection, and art
spawned its own mini-drama when Hamaguchi took the stage at the Dolby
Theatre to accept it. He paused for applause, and the show’s director
then started the music to cue him to leave the stage, but he objected.
"I’d like to thank all the members of the academy for having us
here," Hamaguchi said, then thanked the distributors of the film for
bringing it to the United States.
"Just a moment," he said, to laughs from the audience. He then
thanked his actors, "especially Toko Miura, who drove the Saab 900
beautifully in the film," and paused again for applause. Another musical
cue followed, and Hamaguchi tried to restart yet again, but he was led
Many on social media decried what they regarded as the disrespectful
treatment of the director in the moment.
With four Oscar nominations, including the first best picture
nomination for a Japanese film, and several early wins in awards season
that made it appear to be a best picture frontrunner, no one was
surprised by the win for Drive My Car.
But it beat a strong field of critics’ favorites and crowd pleasers,
including Italy’s The Hand of God, Denmark’s Flee,
Bhutan’s Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom, and Norway’s The
Worst Person in the World, which some observers predicted might pull
of an upset.
Drive My Car, based on a short story from novelist Haruki
Murakami, centers on a theater actor, Yusuke Kafuku, played by Hidetoshi
Nishijima, directing a multilingual production of Chekhov’s Uncle
Vanya. Still mourning the death of his wife, Kafuku leads the cast
in rehearsals where the actors sit and read their lines flatly,
ingesting the language for days before acting it out.
The films of the 43-year-old Hamaguchi, who also released the
anthology film Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy last year, are
acclaimed around the world, but he was not widely known in Hollywood
before a win for best screenplay at the Cannes Film Festival last year
started to bring attention to Drive My Car.
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