Drive My Car Makes History With Oscars Nominations

By: Maria Fernanda (Mafe) Ramos
Drive My Car

On February 8, The 94th Academy Awards list of nominations was announced, and the Japanese drama film Drive My Car made history as the first Japanese movie to be nominated for Best Picture. The film festival favorite, directed and co-written by Ryusuke Hamaguchi, nabbed four nominations at the upcoming awards. The ceremony will broadcast live from the Dolby Theater on Sunday, March 27, 2022, at 8 p.m. EST/5 p.m. PST on ABC and TNT. 

Drive My Car

Drive My Car is based on Haruki Murakami’s short story of the same name, from his novel Men Without Women. The three-hour film follows Yūsuke Kafuku, portrayed by Hidetoshi Nishijima, a widowed actor and theater director with a complicated past. Two years after an intimate tragedy, he decides to direct a multilingual version of Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya in Hiroshima, where he meets Misaki Watari (Tōko Miura), a 20-year-old girl who becomes his chauffeur, as the film progresses, the two develop a unique bond, and become each other’s confidants.

Drive My Car dives into tragedy and betrayal, discussing heavy topics such as infidelity, grief, and loss in a true-telling introspective form. 

One For The History Books 

In a 30-minute live broadcast held on the Oscar’s social media accounts, Drive My Car received four nominations, including International Feature, Adapted Screenplay, Best Director, and Best Picture.

Upon the announcement, Ryusuke Hamaguchi shared his gratitude for the nominations. “I feel that I’ve been given enough praise by this point, and if something happens with this, it will be like an extra reward,” he said

Since its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival in July 2021, the movie has been widely acclaimed by critics, and to the date, has achieved several top prizes from renowned film critic organizations. On January 8, 2022, it took home four awards from the prestigious critic organization, the National Society of Film Critics, including the award for Best Picture and Best Director. On January 9, the film won Best Foreign Language Film at the Golden Globes

These prestigious claims speak a lot for the foreign entertainment industry, especially Japanese and Korean content. Two years ago, the South Korean film Parasite became the first non-English language film at the Academy Awards to win Best Picture. Now, Drive My Car is the first-ever Japanese picture to be nominated in the same category.

Making Waves For Foreign Content 

The Japanese entertainment industry has shown that they have a lot more excellent content, not only their popular animation series and graphic novels. Drive My Car joins the list of East Asian productions that are breaking the barrier in the Western film industry. During the 2021 Screen Actors Guild Awards, Youn Yuh-Jung became the first Korean actress to win Best Female Actress in a Supporting Role, for her character in the film Minari. In the latest ceremony of the Golden Globes, the actor O Yeon-Su from the hit South Korean show Squid Game won Best Supporting Actor, making him the first Korean actor to receive the award. 

Although the distinguished ceremony of the Academy Awards has been one the biggest nights for the creatives in the film industry, it has often been criticized for its lack of diversity, most notably for the absence of nominations for people of color in the acting section. Drive My Car did not receive a single nomination in the acting categories, and back in 2020, a similar situation happened with Parasite.

Even though in 2016 major changes in the membership structure of the Oscars were announced to add qualified members that represent diversity, the lack of variety it’s still visible. Nonetheless, foreign productions achieving milestones in these awards it’s a small step that’s heading the industry in a better direction. 

Congratulations to Drive My Car and all the other Oscar nominees! 

Want more film content? Check out Team ACT!ON Lunar Year Film recommendation list