Oscars: Is ‘Drive My Car’ Japan’s 5th International Feature Film Winner?


The country of Japan has won the Oscar for best international feature film four times over the years, but only one of them, “Departures” (2008), was a competitive award. The first three – “Rashomon” (1951), “Gate of Hell” (1954), and “Samurai, The Legend of Musashi” (1955) – were honorary awards with no further nominees. Now, Culture Entertainment’s “Drive My Car” is set to become Japan’s fifth winner, according to Gold Derby’s Oscar ratings.

Directed by Ryusuke Hamaguchi, “Drive My Car” tells the story of a recent widower (Hidetoshi Nishijima) who is hired to direct a play. A young woman (Toko Miura) is assigned to be his driver, which initially frustrates him as he is used to driving himself. The three-hour film began its streak of awards at the Cannes Film Festival, where it won the Best Screenplay statues (Hamaguchi and Takamasa Oe), the FIPRESCI Prize and the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury. Since then, it has prevailed in various critics groups, including the National Society of Film Critics Awards (directing and picture), the New York Film Critics Circle (photo) and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association (photo).

SEE After New York and LA wins, ‘Drive My Car’ tops early Oscars ratings for Best International Feature Film

Encouraged by all the critical acclaim, Hamaguchi begins to enlarge the table of Gold Derby Oscar predictions for Best Director. The Japanese filmmaker is now in sixth place to win. Likewise, the film skyrocketed to No. 12 for Best Picture and No. 6 for Best Adapted Screenplay.

Of course, “Drive My Car” held the No. 1 spot for Best International Feature throughout the season at Gold Derby. But remember, under the rules of the academy, Hamaguchi wouldn’t personally win the Oscar if he won, because instead it goes to the submitting country as a whole, in this case Japan.

For all the stats geeks, Italy holds the record with 14 wins over the years in the international Oscar category. Next up is France with 12. Japan, Spain and Denmark are then tied with three each, meaning a win for ‘Drive My Car’ would break that tie and cement Japan as third. most awarded country in the history of the Oscars.

The specific name of this Oscar category has undergone many changes over the decades. As of 2020, it is currently called Best International Feature Film. Previously, the category was known as Best Foreign Language Film. Honorary awards were given from time to time between 1947 and 1955. It officially became a competitive category with nominees in 1956.

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