Why Drive My Car deserves to win Best Picture at the 2022 Oscars

With the 2022 Oscars taking place on March 27, 10 new films are up for the Best Picture award: BelfastCODADon’t look updrive my carDuneKing Richardlicorice pizzaAlley of Nightmaresdog power, as well as West Side Story. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses, and any one of them can end up winning big. In the run-up to the Oscars, we’re explaining why each of them deserves the top prize.


Drive my corrected by Ryusuke Hamaguchi and based on a short story by renowned Japanese writer Haruki Murakami.


Renowned director Yusuke Kafuku (Hidetoshi Nishijima) is coping with overwhelming guilt and confusion over a series of events involving his wife, Oto (Reika Kirishima). Processing these emotions alone, he leaves the Tokyo area for a residence in Hiroshima, where he plans to stage a version of Anton Chekhov’s play. Uncle Ivan with a multinational cast of actors speaking different languages. When a quiet, scarred woman named Misaki (Toko Miura) is assigned as his driver for a project, he is initially reluctant but eventually forms a bond with her and with young actor Takatsuki (Masaki Okada). As his play gets closer and closer to its premiere, all three characters begin to reveal devastating secrets.


Drive my car was a major critics’ favorite in 2021, winning Best Picture from the New York, Los Angeles, Toronto, and Boston Critics Associations, as well as the National Society of Film Critics. Previous movie Hamaguchi, 2021 Wheel of fortune and fantasy was very celebrated as well, with its three strong emotional stories acclaimed for its flawless cinematography and storytelling. Murakami is also the main name here – author Chronicle of Clockwork Bird as well as 1Q84 widely regarded as one of the greatest living novelists.


Many other Best Picture nominees seem wider, brighter, or bolder, but drive my car is the most ambitious nominee of the year. It’s crafted with incredible care that highlights individual elements, from Yusuke’s polite but obviously passionate struggle to reject Misaki without being rude to his masters to Takatsuki’s electric arousal. Uncle Ivan an audition where he attempts to impress his audience by physically intimidating and nearly assaulting his shocked stage partner without prior consultation or consent. But the film’s real appeal lies in the overall picture that holds all these pieces together. The threads that connect Yusuke and Oto’s relationship with Takatsuki’s selfish behavior and Misaki’s thousand-yard gaze connect in a series of mesmerizing monologues that suddenly and clearly focus the rest of the film. It’s electrifying.

And the performances are some of the best this year. The lack of the Nishijima effect due to the sex scenes, the struggle with the cast being confused by his directorial choices, and the day to day interactions with his driver also take time to take center stage, as does the behavior of a man struggling not to drown in his incalculable loss. And wine. It’s not the movie that the Oscars producers used to love, with big, flashy moments of performance drama. It’s subtle and elaborate, making it even more like a gift when the characters finally start to reveal what they’ve been hiding.


First, there are almost no precedents for non-English-language films winning Best Picture — in the almost century-long history of the Academy Awards, only 16 non-English-language films have even been nominated in this category, and Pong Joon Ho’s 2019 film Parasite was the first to actually win.

For another, driving my car is a rare experience of three hours, in multiple languages ​​(including Korean Sign Language, with one long, meaningful scene in which there is no audible dialogue at all), and spending most of the time in silence, staged episodes from Uncle Ivan, long gaps in which Oto concocts complex stories about an obsessed teenage stalker, and long hypnotic monologues. It’s not the simplest and brightest watch on the list of the best films of the year, and inevitably some voters simply aren’t going to give it the time and space it needs to work out its charm.


One of Yusuke’s trademark tricks in his plays is that his actors speak different languages ​​- usually languages ​​that they don’t match. English-speaking viewers simply reading the subtitles may miss the subtlety that some of the actors at his table speak Japanese while others speak Korean, Chinese, or Filipino. (Which explains why they bang on the table after each line – to signal to the next actor that they’ve finished talking.) Yuusuke doesn’t explain his purpose for this trick – this is one of the many things that viewers will have to be patient about and discover. But it came to fruition in an amazing open-air rehearsal between two of his actors (played by Sonia Yuan and Park Yurim), one of whom speaks Mandarin and the other speaks sign language. Their quiet scene together becomes intimate and intense, and it’s a thrilling moment.


Drive my car is currently in theaters but will hit HBO Max on March 2.


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