There are snubs and surprises in the Oscar nominations every year, and the 2022 awards race is no exception. (Did the Academy forget about Passing? And what’s Don’t Look Up doing in all of these categories?) But, every once in a while, we do get treated to a delightful surprise or two. This year, Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s Drive My Car, a Best Picture contender, is one of them.
The Japanese drama has been accumulating critical praise ever since it premiered at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival, where it took home three awards and was nominated for the Palme d’Or, the top prize. But compared to more popular U.S. releases like Dune and West Side Story or Netflix titles like The Power of the Dog, Drive My Car flew relatively under the radar to mainstream American audiences as it only showed in select theaters. Still, with glowing reviews carrying its award campaign, the dark horse emerged with four Oscar nominations, including Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay (for Hamaguchi and Takamasa Oe), and Best International Feature Film, as Japan’s official selection for the ceremony. It’s also the first Japanese film to be nominated for Best Picture.
Adapted from the 2014 short story of the same name by Haruki Murakami, Drive My Car follows Yūsuke Kafuku, a widowed actor and director working on a new film in Hiroshima while struggling with this wife’s death. “Mandated by the festival’s producers, Yusuke is assigned a chauffeur, a young woman named Misaki, to take him to and from rehearsal each day,” according to the synopsis. “With the help of Misaki, Yusuke begins to face the haunting mysteries left behind by his wife during their long drives.”
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