Here Are the Nominees for Best American Film at Japan’s Academy Awards
It’s a pretty objective assessment that most Americans don’t give half a damn about foreign film. Hardly any imports make it into neighborhood cineplexes, and the films that do score a theatrical run in major cities are lucky if they make enough money to break even. Sometimes a foreign film can break out on the strength of positive word-of-mouth and a well-placed Oscar nomination (remember Amelie?), but aside from hardcore film types, and critics, foreign pictures don’t draw a lot of attention from the American populace, shrugged off as inscrutable, impenetrable, or dull. Or perhaps it is simply our god-given right as citizens of the United Staes of America to not have to read subtitles when we go out to the movies.
But then, that poses the question as to how other countries view American films. The Japanese Academy Awards, an East Asian sister program to the Oscars we know and love, announced their slate of nominees yesterday, including the Best Foreign Film category. Traditionally dominated by exports from Hollywood, the Best Foreign Film race represents a snapshot of Japan’s perception of U.S. cinema and proves useful to Americans curious about how our movies hold up abroad. So, which exemplary works of American filmcraft from 2015 made the cut for inclusion in the Foreign Film lineup? Maybe the populist feel-goodery of Creed? Or the primal violence of The Revenant may have set it apart from the pack. Perhaps Japan is where the great Carol will get its due, its languid pacing and terse script appreciated in the film market that produced Kurosawa and Ozu.
Or, Kingsman. The five films up for Best Foreign Film consideration are all action, with American Sniper, Whiplash (both 2014 releases that saw Japanese theatrical runs in 2015), Spectre, and Mad Max: Fury Road joining Kingsman: the Secret Service in contention for the prize. It makes sense that the race would be dominated by blockbuster pictures, though; smaller American art pictures may not even run in Japan, and the spectacular choreography of action transcends language and other cultural barriers. Worth noting is the one commonality between America and Japan’s Academy Awards, Fury Road, proving once and for all that George Miller’s film is an absolute good that human beings are incapable of disliking.