With Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay nominations, it’s hard to make a case against Japans’s Drive My Car from Ryusuke Hamaguchi racing away with the Oscar for International Feature Film.
Buoyed by the top tier Best Picture critics’ wins from the LAFCA, NYFCC and NSFC trifecta, Drive My Car became the little Saab story that could. A film without a studio campaign budget but that surged along purely on word of mouth and the strength of it stellar filmmaking, it’s become one of this season’s most organic Cinderella stories. Japan’s history with the Oscars and this category (or as it was called, Foreign Language Film) is a long and storied one. While the official Oscar category wasn’t created until 1956, Honorary Oscars were given to foreign language films beginning in 1947. Japan won three during this period; in 1951, 1954 and 1955. Since then, Japan has submitted a film for consideration every single year, tied with Italy and France with 68 for the most ever. It’s been nominated 14 times but amazingly, has only won once, for 2008’s Departures.
If there’s a chance for an upset, and realistically, it’s a very small one, it’s coming from one of two NEON offerings that also have nominations elsewhere. Flee (Denmark) made Oscar history by earning nominations in three separate feature categories: here, plus Animated Feature and Documentary Feature. More than likely the film will have to be happy to exist in the history books for its triple nods but there’s an outside chance. The Worst Person in the World (Norway) surprised by showing up in Original Screenplay, bumping out the likes of Being the Ricardos, and probably coming very close to a Best Actress nomination for Cannes winner and BAFTA nominee Renate Reinsve.
Here are my final Oscar predictions for International Feature Film.
1. Drive My Car (Japan) – GG, CCA, BAFTA
2. The Worst Person in the World (Norway) – BAFTA
3. Flee (Denmark) – CCA
4. The Hand of God (Italy) – EFA, GG, CCA, BAFTA
5. Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom (Bhutan)