“Drive My Car,” an emotive drama from Japan, received the Academy Award for outstanding foreign feature film on Sunday night.
The film directed by Ryusuke Hamaguchi became the sixth Japanese film to win an Oscar, and the first since “Departures” in 2008.
When Hamaguchi accepted the award for the three-hour journey through loss, connection, and creativity at the Dolby Theatre, it generated its own mini-drama. He stopped for applause, and the show’s director began playing music to signal his departure from the stage, but he refused.
“I’d want to thank all of the academy members for having us here,” Hamaguchi remarked, before thanking the film’s distributors for bringing it to the US.
He said, “Just a second,” to laughter from the crowd. He then stopped for applause before thanking his performers, “particularly Toko Miura, who drove the Saab 900 superbly in the film.” After another musical cue, Hamaguchi attempted to resume his performance, but he was escorted from the stage.
Many people on social media denounced what they saw as the director’s rude attitude at the time.
No one was shocked by “Drive My Car’s” success on Sunday. It had four Oscar nominations, including the first best picture nomination for a Japanese film, and numerous early victories in awards season that made it look to be a best picture contender.
However, it triumphed against a strong field of critics’ picks and crowd-pleasers, including Italy’s “The Hand of God,” Denmark’s “Flee,” Bhutan’s “Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom,” and Norway’s “The Worst Person in the World,” which several experts expected would win.
Yûsuke Kafuku, portrayed by Hidetoshi Nishijima, is a theatrical actor who is directing a multilingual production of Chekhov’s “Uncle Vanya,” based on a short tale by author Haruki Murakami. Kafuku, who is still grieving the loss of his wife, leads the ensemble in rehearsals where the performers sit and read their lines blankly for days before playing them out.
The works of the 43-year-old Hamaguchi, who also directed the anthology picture “Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy” last year, have received critical praise throughout the globe, but he was relatively unknown in Hollywood till “Drive My Car” won best script at the Cannes Film Festival last year.