Animation movies

Best Oscar-Nominated Japanese Movies To Watch After Driving My Car

Asian films are increasingly attracting the attention of the Academy. After Parasite earned four breakthrough Oscar wins, Ryusuke Hamaguchiit’s drive my car earned four nominations, including a historic Best Picture. These four nominations are tied Akira Kurosawait’s Had run as the most nominated Japanese film in Oscar history. The nominations are likely a product of the Academy’s attempts over the past few years to diversify its ranks and become a more international entity.

Japan has had a whole host of great Oscar-nominated filmmakers over the years. From Kurosawa to Hayao Miyazaki, many great Japanese artists have been honored. Before drive my car, the majority of nominations for Japanese films were in the International Feature Film category as well as craft categories like Best Production Design and Best Costume Design. Of course there is also Studio Ghibli which, despite being nominated six times in the Best Animated Feature category, only won once for Taken away as if by magic. Animated or not, there are plenty of great Japanese movies to check out after drive my car. Here are seven who also managed to land Oscar nominations.

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The Wind Rises (2013)


The wind rises, jpg

At the time of its release in 2013, Hayao Miyazaki The wind picks up was to be the legendary animator’s last film. Based on the life of Jiro Horikoshi (voiced by Anno Hideaki), the film features a fictionalized biography of the game-changing Japanese aircraft designer. Beginning when Jiro was just a young boy, the film traces his fascination with airplanes in his youth through his involvement in the design of the Mitsubishi A5M and Mitsubishi A6M Zero, two revolutionary aircraft used during World War II. world.

As expected from Studio Ghibli, the animation is simply stunning. Nominated for Best Animated Feature in 2014, the film lost to disneyit’s Frozen. However, the film managed to climb the ranks of Miyazaki’s already outstanding filmography and sit firmly alongside his other masterpieces like Taken away as if by magic and Princess Mononoke. Jiro’s story is about the conflict between an artist and the destructive ends to which his art was used. Miyazaki squeezes all the existentialism he can out of this tension, but he also takes the time to develop a tender romance between Jiro and his wife Naoko (Miori Takimoto).

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Woman in the Dunes (1964)


image woman in the dunes
Image via Toho

A product of the New Wave style of Japanese cinema from the late 1950s to the 1970s, Hiroshi Teshigaharait’s woman in the dunes is a disturbing and idiosyncratic descent into psychological and sexual torment. After a wandering entomologist is trapped in a sand dune by a small group of seaside villagers, he is subjected to a torturous lifestyle where each attempt to escape only seems to sink him deeper into the Sandbox.

Nominated for Best Director in 1965, Teshigahara became the first Asian to be nominated in the category. The prize went to Robert Sage for The sound of musicbut Teshigahara’s nomination paved the way for other Asian nominees in major categories, such as Akira Kurosawa. woman in the dunes may not be the easiest watch in the world, but in the end, it turns out to be a surprisingly universal tale of the Sisyphean tasks of everyday life. Although you’ll never look at the sand the same way again, the journey the film goes on is certainly unforgettable.

Twilight Samurai (2002)


the image of the twilight samarai
Picture via Empire Pictures

Set in late 1860s Japan, Yoji Yamadait’s The Twilight Samurai follows Seibei Iguchi (Hiroyuki Sanadalisten)), a low-ranking widowed samurai who, caring for his two young daughters and senile mother, has no interest in remarrying. However, when he is reintroduced to his best friend’s sister, Tomoe (Rie Miyazawa), unexpected opportunities arise. The setup is something you’ve seen a million times before, but Yamada uses those expectations to his advantage by telling an emotional, subversive story about a tragic protagonist. While the film was only nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars, The Twilight Samurai won an unprecedented 12 categories at the Japanese Academy Awards. Yamada’s tender and dark story of his impoverished samurai proved to be a universal story that transcended the barriers of time and language. Yamada made his first film in 1961, and even after 50 years he proved that he could still keep pushing himself.


Shoplifters (2018)


image of shoplifters
Image via GAGA Pictures

Director Hirokazu Kore-eda has made a name for itself with its tender and humanistic dramas. The films are often low stakes and take a look at the daily life of families in Japan. In Shoplifters, the story follows a close-knit family living in poverty who resort to shoplifting to survive. When the family finds a little girl seemingly abandoned by her parents, they agree to take her in and train her in their shoplifting methods.

Nominated for Best International Feature Film in 2019, Shoplifters is one of 16 films to have won this nomination in addition to winning the Palme d’or at the Cannes film festival. The film is a deeply touching story of what it means to be a family, whether by blood or by choice. Kore-eda’s characteristic sweetness envelops the film in a warm atmosphere, but as the third act unfolds, the film touches the heart and wins every tear.


Ugetsu (1953)


ugetsu picture
Image via Daiei Film

Part period drama, part moral fable, and part horror story, Ugetsu is a surprising beast of a movie. Directed by Kenji Mizoguchithe film follows two peasants, Genjūrō ​​(Masayuki Mori) and Tobei (Eitaro Ozawa), who begin to sell their terracotta pots to soldiers. After Genjūrō ​​developed a taste for making money and Tōbei became obsessed with becoming a samurai – even at his wife’s expense, the two set out down the path of greed and greed, respectively. pride.

Nominated for Best Costume Design in 1956, the film, with the help of its production designer as well, seamlessly transports the viewer to 16th century Japan as the film unfolds. As the two peasants sink deeper into their immoral lives, the film’s framing of its surroundings seems to become more menacing and oppressive, as if reflecting the slow corruption of the two protagonists. Many Mizoguchi films follow characters whose impeccable morals are questioned during the course of the film, and Ugetsu is one of his best efforts.


Kwaidan (1965)


kwaidan picture
Image via Toho

Similar to Ugetsu, Masaki Kobayashiit’s Kwaidan is a bizarre and moving film. KwaidanThe title of is a reference to “kaidan”, which translates to “ghost story” in archaic Japanese. And in just over three hours, Kobayashi uses his long runtime to tell four folk tales on the subject. Telling tales of penniless samurai and blind musicians, each carries a haunting twist. After making political satires and period pieces for more than a decade, Kwaidan marked a dramatic change of pace for Kobayashi. Its expressive sets and luscious cinematography brought its witty, ghostly tales to life perfectly. And with a Best Foreign Language Film nomination in 1966, Kobayashi’s heartbreaking shift certainly didn’t go unnoticed. While the prize went to the Czechoslovak film, The main street shop, KwaidanThe assemblage of ghost stories remains as powerful and unforgettable today as it was when first released nearly 60 years ago.


Kagemusha (1980)


Picture Kagemusha
Image via 20th Century Fox

Many of Akira Kurosawa’s films have received an Oscar nomination or two, and each of them, whether nominated for an Oscar or not, is definitely worth watching. To choose just one, Kagemusha is a great movie, but not one that gets as much love as Had run Where Seven Samurai. When a petty thief is recruited to pose as a dying feudal lord, he soon finds himself taking over for the powerful ruler after his death. Inexperienced and in over his head, the new leader’s command is tested when he is forced to fight against a rival clan.

As one of the last films Kurosawa made in his sprawling career, the Japanese master fires absolutely all cylinders with Kagemusha. With gorgeous colors and jaw-dropping wide shots of battle sequences, in many ways, the film feels like the culmination of a career defined by Kurosawa’s unparalleled artistry and ability to inspire awe. Nominated for two Oscars in 1981, Kagemusha Deftly balances its epic scale with piercing, intimate moments. As the central thief begins to realize just how out of his depth he is, Kurosawa’s cinematic becomes more chaotic, but never less precise. Every emotion and camera move is perfectly calculated by Kurosawa, and at every turn he proves why he is one of the greatest directors who ever lived.


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