Fans of Japan-themed cinema were delighted when candidates for this yearâ€™s Academy Awards were announced Jan. 16, asÂ Cutie and the BoxerÂ was nominated for Best Documentary Feature andÂ The Wind RisesÂ received the nod for Best Animated Feature Film.
A 2013 Sundance Film Festival entry (and award winner for director Zachary Heinzerling),Â Cutie and the BoxerÂ captures the stormy 40-year marriage of painter Ushio Shinohara and his wife Noriko, a budding artist in her own right. Shot over five years in New York, the film is a raw and sometimes unpleasant look at how egotism and the desire to create can bend personal relationships to the breaking point. It will be released on Blu-ray and DVD Feb. 4.
On the animated front isÂ The Wind Rises, the latest work from Hayao Miyazaki of Studio Ghibli fame. Based on the life of wartime aeronautical engineer Jiro Horikoshi, it was the top-grossing film in Japan last year and is the third Oscar nominee for Miyazaki (he previously won for 2001â€™sÂ Spirited Away). It could also be his last, as he announced his retirement in September. The film receives a domestic theatrical release Feb. 21, and marks a bold new thematic direction for the maestro.
The 86th annual Academy Awards will be broadcast live on March 2. For more information on the nominees, visitÂ www.oscar.go.com.