Justin’s Japan: Japan Goes to the Oscars

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By JQ magazine editor Justin Tedaldi (CIR Kobe-shi, 2001-02) for Shukan NY Seikatsu. Visit his Examiner.com Japanese culture page here for related stories.

Fans of Japan-themed cinema were delighted when candidates for this year’s Academy Awards were announced Jan. 16, as Cutie and the Boxer was nominated for Best Documentary Feature and The Wind Rises received the nod for Best Animated Feature Film.

A 2013 Sundance Film Festival entry (and award winner for director Zachary Heinzerling), Cutie and the Boxer 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 is 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 2001’s 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, visit www.oscar.go.com.