Winning the Best Picture Oscar is the greatest honour for any film. Sadly, however, no Asian movie has won one to this date. As many as six Asian movies have been awarded the Academy Award for the Best Foreign Language Film, but only five have ever come close to winning the Best Picture, Oscar.
None of them managed to snatch the biggest honour of all, but most secured Oscars in several other categories. They have plenty to teach and inspire enough awe to look for some good deals on KaroBargain and get yourself a ticket if ever there’s a special screening near you. Until that happens, let’s take a look at the only five Asian movies to be nominated for the most prestigious award a film can get.
A Room with a View
Directed by James Ivory and based on E. M. Forster’s book of the same name, A Room with a View is a British romance film released in 1985. It was written by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala and produced by Ismail Merchant, an Indian-born film producer and director. The movie stars Helena Bonham Carter as Lucy and Julian Sands as George, along with Daniel Day-Lewis, Judi Dench, Denholm Elliott, Maggie Smith, and Simon Callow in supporting roles.
A Room with a View follows Lucy Honeychurch, a young woman in the restrictive and repressed culture of Edwardian England. We see her developing love for a free-spirited young man named George Emerson. The movie was nominated for eight awards at the 59th Academy Awards, of which it won three: Best Art Direction, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Costume Design. It also won a Golden Globe and five British Academy Film Awards.
You’ll see a lot of familiar names as the Howards End was also directed by James Ivory, produced by Ismail Merchant, and screenplay-written by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala. This 1992 romantic drama is also based on another book by the same author as Ivory’s previous Oscar winner, Howards End by E.M. Forster. The movie stars Anthony Hopkins, Vanessa Redgrave, Helena Bonham Carter, Emma Thompson, James Wilby, Samuel West, Jemma Redgrave, and Prunella Scales.
Howards End examines the transforming landscape of class and social divisions in turn-of-the-century England through the prism of three families: the wealthy, business-oriented Wilcoxes, the intellectual and ideal Schlegels, and the working-class Basts. Howards End received nine Academy Award nominations and won three: Best Actress (Emma Thompson), Best Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published (Ruth Prawer), and Best Art Direction (Luciana Arright and Ian Whittaker).
The Remains of the Day
Another James Ivory-Ismail Merchant-Ruth Prawer Jhabvala product, The Remains of the Day is a 1993 British-American drama film adapted from the Booker Prize-winning 1989 novel of the same name by Kazuo Ishiguro. However, Merchant produced the movie with Mike Nichols and John Calley. The movie stars Anthony and Emma Thompson in lead roles along with James Fox, Christopher Reeve, and Hugh Grant in supporting roles.
Told from a first-person perspective, The Remains of the Day is narrated in the form of a diary by an English butler named Stevens. It tells of a man’s journey into the past during a motoring trip across the English countryside. The movie was nominated for eight categories including the Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, and Best Actress, but won none. Hopkins did win Best Actor at the BAFTAs, where the movie won for five other categories, including one for Best Picture.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Based on a novel of the same name by Wang Dulu, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is a 2000 wuxia film. Wuxia is a genre of Chinese fiction concerning the adventures of ancient Chinese martial artists. Directed by And Lee and written by Wang Hui-ling, James Schamus, and Tsai Kuo Jung, the film stars international Chinese actors like Chow Yun-fat, Michelle Yeoh, Zhang Ziyi and Chang Chen.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon pays homage on different levels: to the past legends of QING China when miracles existed and spirits and gods were present in man’s world, and to the valuable contribution of martial arts in the visual world of action films. The movie was nominated for 10 Academy Awards, from which it won Best Foreign Language Film (Taiwan), Best Art Direction, Best Original Score and Best Cinematography. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon has won over 40 awards in total.
Life of Pi
Directed by Ang Lee, Life of Pi is a 2012 survival drama film based on Yann Martel’s novel of the same name. The movie’s adapted screenplay was written by David Magee and stars Suraj Sharma, Irrfan Khan, Tabu, Rafe Spall, Adil Hussain, and Gérard Depardieu.
Life of Pie revolves around the story of an Indian man names “Pi” Patel who narrates his life story to a novelist, describing how at 16, he survived a shipwreck and is adrift in the Pacific Ocean on a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger. While director Ang Lee won Best Director at the 85th Academy Awards, the movie didn’t win the Best Picture Oscar despite eleven nominations.