Japan has officially named Makoto Shinkai’s “Weathering With You” its 2020 Oscar entry in the Best International Film category, which is the new name being given to the Best Foreign Language Film prize. The selection makes “Weathering With You” the first anime movie to represent Japan in the category at the Oscars in over 20 years. The country’s last anime Oscar submission was Hayao Miyazaki’s “Princess Mononoke” in 1997, but it failed to land a nomination the following year at the 70th Academy Awards.
“Weathering With You” is Shinkai’s first directorial effort since earning newfound international acclaim and recognition after the release of the 2016 anime blockbuster “Your Name.” Shinkai’s latest centers around the romance between a high school runaway from Tokyo and a young orphan girl who appears to be able to manipulate the weather.
“Weathering With You” has already opened in Japan and has grossed over $100 million, making it the biggest Japanese film domestically since “Your Name.” GKids is handling the movie’s North American theatrical release after it launches here at the Toronto International Film Festival next month.
In the two decades since “Princess Mononoke” failed to earn an Oscar nomination for Japan, the country has selected live-action titles for the Academy Awards from such directors as Ryoichi Kimizuka (“Nobody to Watch Over Me”), Tetsuya Nakashima (“Confessions”), and Hirokazu Kore-eda (“Nobody Knows,” “Shoplifters”). Japan landed an Oscar nomination earlier this year for “Shoplifters,” winner of the Palme d’Or at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival,” and it won the Best Foreign Language Film in 2009 with Yōjirō Takita’s “Departures.”
Miyazaki’s “Spirited Away” previously won the Best Animated Feature Oscar, but it was not the country’s official foreign film entry.
“Weathering With You” is now looking to earn Japan its second Oscar nomination in a row in the foreign film category. The anime romance will face tough competition from the likes of South Korea, which has selected Bong Joon-ho’s “Parasite” as its official selection. The Neon release won the Palme d’Or earlier this year and will be pushed in categories beyond just Best International Film. Other films announced to contend for the Best International Film prize include Elia Suleiman’s “It Must Be Heaven” (Palestine), Gabriela Calvache’s “The Longest Night” (Ecuador), and César Díaz’s “Our Mothers” (Belgium).
The 92nd Academy Awards will be held February 9, 2020.