Film News: ‘Parasite’ is First Foreign-Language Best Picture Winner

Parasite, Director Bong Joon-Ho’s masterful satirical rumination on class, was undoubtedly the night’s most deserved winner, and in a rare case of the Academy being all very finger on the pulse, it turned out to be the night’s biggest winner. The film won four of the six awards it was nominated for and went home with Best Picture, Best Director, Best International Film and Best Original Screenplay.

  

The win felt seismic, but what this means for the Academy going forward though, is hard to say. After all, to say the Academy’s record on recognising those outside of America, as well as those who aren’t white or male, is inconsistent and patchy is an understatement—you have to wonder if they learned anything at all from 2015’s ‘Oscars So White’ controversy.

  

This year’s nominations were met with a deserved backlash after, once again, they dropped the ball. The Academy granted just one nomination to an actor of colour, out of 20 spots, and failed to acknowledge any female filmmakers in the Best Director category, despite some of last year’s finest movies being directed by women – Greta Gerwig’s omission alone was utterly baffling considering the adulation Little Women got elsewhere in the nominations. Maybe it directed itself?

  

But now to what they did get right. The room erupted as Parasite took home its awards, as did social media. Film twitter marked it as a victory, world cinema enthusiasts heralded it as a new dawn, and gifs of director Bong staring joyously at his Oscar flooded many timelines. Perhaps though, the joy was maybe eclipsed by relief – relief that the Academy had got it right this time.

  

Renowned for choosing the safe option, they’ve often ignored the more cutting edge offerings (Hello, Uncut Gems) in favour of their biopics and war movies. But in a country crippled with division and confronted with a very dangerous form of nationalism, for a Korean movie to be given the top prize feels progressive and almost defiant in the face of Make America Great Again. Parasite winning best picture really was a big deal, but The Academy’s decision to award Director Bong with Best Director on the night maybe shouldn’t come too much of a surprise as since 2010, The Academy has practiced progression and inclusivity (albeit the male kind) and has awarded this prize to just one American – Damien Chazelle for La La Land in 2016.

  

It is most definitely a significant move in the Best Film category as this is the Academy recognising a foreign film in the same way it does its own – for the very first time. However, we are also talking about the awards body that gave Moonlight Best Picture in 2016 only to then give Green Book the same award last year. Patchy indeed.

  

So the question is, will the academy continue on this road and start to treat world cinema as it does its own? It may have took the best part of a century but Sunday’s win for Parasite was the Academy looking outward for the first time ever. Yes, they still have major issues to iron out but this has to be seen as a step in the right direction, and could maybe even a stance in these troubled times.

Best Actor winner Joaquin Phoenix

  

Elsewhere it was perhaps less exciting and more of the Oscars we’ve come to know. In the major categories, Joaquin Phoenix was the night’s big support act with his vegan-centric speech after bagging best actor for Joker – probably the night’s least surprising development after Phoenix had pretty much won best actor everywhere else up until Sunday night. Brad Pitt took best supporting actor for Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood, in what was a tough category but Pitt’s Cliff Booth is a QT character for the ages and the win maybe felt like one for his career as much as for the role. Renée Zellweger, as expected, won Best Actress for Judy  while Laura Dern went home with best supporting actress for  for her scene stealing turn in Marriage Story – in a category that seemed to divide opinion between Dern and Florence Pugh.

  

Two of the night’s other highlights though came with Taika Waititi winning Best Adapted Screenplay for Jojo Rabbit which was followed by a very touching speech in which he dedicated the win to indigenous children. It was a beautiful moment and It should also be noted that this was the first time the unflappable Taika has ever looked nervous. Inspiring speech duties had to shared though as Hildur Guðnadóttir who won Best Score for Joker, who rallied young women with music in them to speak up and speak out. Guðnadóttir’s speech absolutely struck a powerful note on a night when female representation was sorely lacking.

Read more: Film Review: Parasite

Away from Parasite, the ceremony itself was actually pretty placid. The absence of a host has somewhat ironed out some of the more awkward creases recent Oscar ceremonies had found themselves with and aside some of the usual randomness (Eminem anyone?) and tone deaf mishaps (Those who worked on Cats – and then were laid off soon after – I’m sure, saw it hilarious when Rebel Wilson and James Corden lampooned the movies’ effects) the ceremony feels like it has kind of plateaued a little and is probably in need of a revamp. But, the 92nd Academy Awards will always be remembered for one thing and one thing only, this was the triumph of South Korea, world cinema and Parasite

  

The winners of the night in full were:

 

Best picture

  • Ford V Ferrari
  • The Irishman
  • Jojo Rabbit
  • Joker
  • Little Women
  • Marriage Story
  • 1917
  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
  • Parasite – Winner

Best director

  • Martin Scorsese (The Irishman)
  • Todd Phillips (Joker)
  • Sam Mendes (1917)
  • Quentin Tarantino (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood)
  • Bong Joon-ho (Parasite) – Winner

Best actress

  • Cynthia Erivo (Harriet)
  • Scarlett Johansson (Marriage Story)
  • Saorise Ronan (Little Women)
  • Charlize Theron (Bombshell)
  • Renée Zellweger (Judy) – Winner

Best actor

  • Antonio Banderas (Pain and Glory)
  • Leonardo DiCaprio (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood)
  • Adam Driver (Marriage Story)
  • Joaquin Phoenix (Joker) – Winner
  • Jonathan Pryce (The Two Popes)

Best supporting actress

  • Kathy Bates (Richard Jewell)
  • Laura Dern (Marriage Story) – Winner
  • Scarlett Johansson (Jojo Rabbit)
  • Florence Pugh (Little Women)
  • Margot Robbie (Bombshell)

Best supporting actor

  • Tom Hanks (A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood)
  • Anthony Hopkins (The Two Popes)
  • Al Pacino (The Irishman)
  • Joe Pesci (The Irishman)
  • Brad Pitt (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood) – Winner

Original screenplay

  • Knives Out
  • Marriage Story
  • 1917
  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
  • Parasite – Winner

Adapted screenplay

  • The Irishman
  • Jojo Rabbit – Winner
  • Joker
  • Little Women
  • The Two Popes

Animated feature film

  • How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
  • I Lost My Body
  • Klaus
  • Missing Link
  • Toy Story 4 – Winner

International feature film

  • Corpus Christi
  • Honeyland
  • Les Misérables
  • Pain and Glory
  • Parasite – Winner

Original score

  • Hildur Guðnadóttir (Joker) – Winner
  • Alexandre Desplat (Little Women)
  • Randy Newman (Marriage Story)
  • Thomas Newman (1917)
  • John Williams (Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker)

Original song

  • ‘I Can’t Let You Throw Yourself Away’ from Toy Story 4
  • ‘(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again’ from Rocketman – Winner
  • ‘I’m Standing With You’ from Breakthrough
  • ‘Into The Unknown’ from Frozen 2
  • ‘Stand Up’ from Harriet

Live action short film

  • Brotherhood
  • Nefta Football Club
  • The Neighbors’ Window – Winner
  • Saria
  • A Sister

Animated short film

  • Dcera (Daughter)
  • Hair Love – Winner
  • Kitbull
  • Memorable
  • Sister

Documentary feature

  • American Factory – Winner
  • The Cave
  • The Edge of Democracy
  • For Sama
  • Honeyland

Documentary short subject

  • In the Absence
  • Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (if You’re a Girl) – Winner
  • Life Overtakes Me
  • St. Louis Superman
  • Walk Run Cha-Cha

Cinematography

  • The Irishman
  • Joker
  • The Lighthouse
  • 1917 – Winner
  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Visual effects

  • Avengers: Endgame
  • The Irishman
  • The Lion King
  • 1917 – Winner
  • Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Costume design

  • The Irishman
  • Jojo Rabbit
  • Joker
  • Little Women – Winner
  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Makeup and hairstyling

  • Bombshell – Winner
  • Joker
  • Judy
  • Maleficent: Mistress of Evil
  • 1917

Film editing

  • Ford V Ferrari – Winner
  • The Irishman
  • Jojo Rabbit
  • Joker
  • Parasite

Production design

  • The Irishman
  • Jojo Rabbit
  • 1917
  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood – Winner
  • Parasite

Sound mixing

  • Ad Astra
  • Ford V Ferrari
  • Joker
  • 1917 – Winner
  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Sound editing

  • Ford V Ferrari – Winner
  • Joker
  • 1917
  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
  • Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Words by Chris Burns

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