Makoto Shinkai’s feature Weathering with You has been selected as the official Japanese entry for the International Feature Film Award (previously Foreign Language Film) at the Oscars. The announcement was made today by the Japan Motion Picture Producers Association, which selected Shinkai’s film from a shortlist of 13 films.
Shinkai’s 2016 film, the critically-acclaimed Your Name, broke global box office records for a Japanese film ($360 million worldwide), but the film’s U.S. distributor didn’t have any experience with awards season politics and couldn’t get Academy voters excited about the project, resulting in no nomination for a film that many believed was a shoo-in in the feature animation category. A similar situation is unlikely to happen with Weathering with You, which is being distributed in the U.S. by GKIDS, which has scored 11 nominations in the animated feature category, including an Oscar nomination earlier this year for Mirai, the first non-Ghibli film to be nominated in the category.
With Japan now pushing the film in the International category, the film’s visibility will continue to increase in the lead-up to Oscar voting. It doesn’t hurt that Weathering with You is currently the highest-grossing film, animated or live action, at the Japanese box office this year.
Each country is allowed to submit only one film for the international category. The decision by Japan to enter Weathering with You in the international field has no effect on the film’s ability to also compete in the Academy’s animated feature category, should the film’s producers also choose to qualify it for the animation competition.
At least sixteen countries/territories have submitted animated features for foreign-language Oscar consideration in the past, but only one animated film has ever been nominated in the category: Israel’s Waltz with Bashir. Below is Cartoon Brew’s list of countries that have submitted an animation project as their foreign language choice:
1953: France, Johnny the Giant Killer
1975: Belgium, Tarzoon Shame of the Jungle
1982: Romania, Quo Vadis Homo Sapiens?
1986: Hungary, Cat City
1994: Japan, Pom Poko
1994: Czech Republic, Faust
1997: Croatia, Lapitch the Little Shoemaker
1997: Japan, Princess Mononoke
1999: Argentina, Manuelita
2002: Chile, Ogu and Mampato on Easter Island
2005: Luxembourg, Renart the Fox
2007: France, Persepolis
2008: Israel, Waltz with Bashir (nominated)
2011: Singapore, Tatsumi
2011: Czech Republic, Alois Nebel
2013: Uruguay, Anina
2014: Latvia, Rocks in My Pockets
2015: Palestinian territories, The Wanted 18
2016: Switzerland, My Life as a Zucchini