Oscars 2022: Drive My Car–Director Ryusuke Hamaguchi Thanks His Actors for Best International Film Win

Director Ryusuke Hamaguchi Thanks Actors for Best International Film Win

Hamaguchi’s acclaimed drama, adapted from a Haruki Murakami short story, gave Japan its fifth Oscar win and 14th nomination.


Japanese drama Drive My Car, the favorite to win in the best international film category at the Academy Awards Sunday night, took home the statue as expected, giving Japan its first Oscar win in 14 years.

The film’s writer and director Ryusuke Hamaguchi used his moment at the Dolby Theatre podium to express his gratitude to his talented cast, giving a shoutout to the ensemble who had traveled to Los Angeles with him — actors Hidetoshi Nishijima, Masaki Okada, Reika Kirishima — but reserving special praise for actress Tôko Miura, who wasn’t present at ceremony, “but drove the Saab 900 beautifully in the film.”

Drive My Car followed in the footsteps of Bong Joon-ho’s multi-Oscar winner Parasite (2019) this season as the trailblazing international drama gaining widespread support despite being told in a language other than English. The film premiered at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival, building early momentum by winning three prizes, including best screenplay.

A wave of accolades followed: best film honors from all three major U.S. critics groups (LAFCA, NYFCC, NSFC) — a first for a non-English language film — as well as best international film prizes at the 27th Critics’ Choice Awards, the 37th Independent Spirit Awards and the 2022 BAFTAs.

Drive My Car then tied Akira Kurosawa’s 1985 epic Ran as the most Oscar-nominated Japanese film of all time, scoring four nods, including for best film, best director and best adapted screenplay.

(L-R) Co-hosts Amy Schumer, Wanda Sykes, and Regina Hall speak onstage during the 94th Annual Academy Awards at Dolby Theatre on March 27, 2022 in Hollywood, California.

Troy Kotsur

The film is an adaptation of a short story by acclaimed Japanese author Haruki Murakami. It stars Japanese leading man Hidetoshi Nishijima as Yusuke Kafuku, a stage actor and director coping with the sudden death of his enigmatic wife. Traveling to Hiroshima to direct a performance of Anton Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya, a gruff, silent young woman is assigned to act as his chauffeur, ferrying him around the city in his bright red Saab 900. During the ride, an uncanny connection emerges between the two, with secrets and confessions revealed.

Japanese cinema has been fairly well honored at the Oscars, particularly in its golden era of the 1950s and 1960s, when classic works like Kurosawa’s Rashomon took home honorary Oscars in a period before the advent of the best international feature category. More recently, Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Shoplifters was nominated in the best international film category in 2018, and Yōjirō Takita’s Departures was the last Japanese film to win in the category back in 2008.