Here are two films that have also earned 2022 Oscars nominations. Drive My Car hails from Japan and has 4 nominations, while Parallel Mothers is from Spain, and earned two nominations.
Drive My Car (Japan - Video on Demand) Director Ryusuke Hamaguchi is on an enviable roll. He won the Jury Prize in Berlin last year with Wheel of Fortune & Fantasy; and no sooner do we blink, and he was back on the award scene at Cannes with Drive My Car. At a shade under three hours, this deep and introspective study of grief and resolution, set against the backdrop of a Japanese theater director heading to Hiroshima to stage a multi-lingual Uncle Vanya, immediately became a critics’ favorite; and is poised to reap yet more recognition, as it’s heavily favored to pick up Best International Feature at the Oscars next month. It’s carrying four nominations - including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay. But I don’t see it becoming this year’s Parasite, it’s too nuanced a film.
Based on a short story of Haruki Murakami, the film has also gotten something of a buzz here as there’s a Filipino in the cast, as one of the stage actors auditioning for Vanya. But curb your enthusiasm, it’s fun to hear him speaking Pilipino, but it is a very minor role. What we do get a lot of, is introspection, as the widowed director reflects on the unconventional relationship he had with his late wife, and there are strong parallels between his Uncle Vanya lines, and the resolution he seeks to cope with his loss. As for the ‘Drive’ in the title, it comes in the form of a female chauffeur assigned to said Director while in Hiroshima; and the tentative, but undeniable mutually-giving relationship the two enter into, to better understand and address their respective issues.
Parallel Mothers (Spain - Amazon Prime) There’s still nothing quite like the cinematic world of Director Pedro Almodovar. Bright with stark hues and colors, it’s a universe where the absurd lie side-by-side with the profound. Critics have, in the past, called it his version of Salvador Dali’s paintings, and his perennial take on post-Franco Spain. It’s a universe we’re always welcome to visit, and more often than not, we’ve been amply rewarded for the effort. Parallel Mothers is his latest film, and it pairs him again with his most durable of muses, Penelope Cruz. Forget Pirates of the Caribbean, and the Hollywood projects that Cruz has taken on. If you want to see what all the buzz about her raw acting was about, watch her in an Almodovar film.
Parallel Mothers has two 2022 Oscar nominations. One is for the Original Score, and the big, second one is Penelope Cruz for Best Actress. And in a year when a number of the nominees gave sterling performances in unbalanced films, here is one where a great performance is matched with an entertaining, yet deep, film. It’s about two single mothers who first meet as they’re expecting, and form a bond in the midst of their delivering. Circumstances about paternity, about relationships both with men and women, swirl around these two strong-willed women - and it’s been a trait of the Almodovar world that the women are infinitely more fascinating than the men. Such is once again the case here, and Penelope fully deserves the nomination. And you’ll appreciate how Pedro ties it all in with a statement about the politically persecuted of some 80 years ago.