South Korean director Bong Joon Ho, right, reacts as he is presented with the Academy Award for best picture for "Parasite" from presenter Jane Fonda at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles on Sunday. Photo: AP/Chris Pizzello
entertainment

Korean film 'Parasite' takes best picture Oscar; acting honors go to Phoenix, Zellweger, Pitt, Dern

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By Jake Coyle

Subtitle this: “Parasite” is the first non-English language film to win best picture in the 92-year history of the Academy Awards.

Bong Joon Ho’s masterfully devious class satire took Hollywood’s top prize at the Oscars on Sunday night, along with awards for best director, best international film and best screenplay. In a year dominated by period epics -- “1917,” “Once Upon a Time ... In Hollywood,” “The Irishman” -- the film academy instead went overseas, to South Korea, to reward a contemporary and unsettling portrait of social inequality in “Parasite.”

True to its name, “Parasite” simply got under the skin of Oscar voters, attaching itself to the American awards season and, ultimately, to history. The win was a watershed moment for the Academy Awards, which has long been content to relegate international films to their own category.

Multiple standing ovations greeted Bong's several wins. “I am ready to drink tonight,” Bong said, prompting roars from the crowd. Unexpectedly called up again for best director, Bong saluted his fellow nominees, particularly Martin Scorsese, and concluded: “Now I'm ready to drink until tomorrow.”

The win for “Parasite” — which had echoes of the surprise victory of “Moonlight” over “La La Land” three years ago — came in year in which many criticized the lack of diversity in the nominees and the absence of female filmmakers. But the triumph for “Parasite” enabled Hollywood to flip the script, and signal a different kind of progress.

In doing so, the film academy turned away another history-making event, again denying Netflix its first best-picture win despite two contenders in “The Irishman” and “Marriage Story,” and a big-spending awards campaign blitz.

All of the acting winners — Brad Pitt (best supporting actor in "Once Upon a Time ... In Hollywood"), Renee Zellweger (best actress for her portrayal of Judy Garland in "Judy"), Joaquin Phoenix (best actor for "Joker") and Laura Dern (best supporting actress in "Marriage Story'') — went as expected.

Phoenix, in his acceptance speech, spoke about a host of issues, including sexism and racism in the film industry, ecological disaster and vegetarianism.

“I've been a scoundrel in my life. I've been selfish, I've been cruel at times and hard to work with. But so many of you in this room have given me a second chance,” Phoenix said. When people guide each other toward redemption, he added, “that is the best of humanity.”

He concluded quoting a lyric of his deceased brother, River Phoenix: “Run to the rescue with love and peace will follow."

Few categories were more certain coming into Sunday's Oscars than best supporting actor, which Pitt has had locked down all awards season. While Pitt (who in 2014 shared in the best picture win for “12 Years a Slave,” as a producer) has regaled audiences with one-liners in the run-up to the Oscars, he began his comments on a political note.

“They told me I have 45 seconds to speak, which is 45 seconds more than the Senate gave John Bolton this week,” Pitt said, alluding to the impeachment hearings. “I'm thinking maybe Quentin does a movie about it.”

Pitt said the honor had given him reason to reflect on his fairy-tale journey in the film industry, going back to when he moved to Los Angeles from Missouri. “Once upon a time in Hollywood," said Pitt. "Ain't that the truth.”

Most of the early awards went according to forecasts, including Dern winning for her performance as a divorce attorney in Noah Baumbach's “Marriage Story.” Accepting her first Oscar, Dern thanked her in-attendance parents, “my legends, Diane Ladd and Bruce Dern.”

For the 87th time, no women were nominated for best director this year, a subject that was woven into the entire ceremony — and even into some attendees' clothing. Natalie Portman wore a cape lined with the names of female filmmakers who weren't nominated for best director, including Lulu Wang ("The Farewell"), Greta Gerwig ("Little Women") and Mati Diop ("Atlantics").

Coming on a rare rainy day in Los Angeles, the ceremony was soggy and song-heavy. Some performances, like Eminem's performance of “Lose Yourself,” were unexpected (and drew a wane response from Martin Scorsese). All of the song nominees performed, including Elton John who won with his longtime songwriting partner Bernie Taupin for their “Rocketman” tune.

The hostless ceremony opened on a note of inclusion, with Janelle Monae performing “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” and her own song, “Come Alive,” with an assist from Billy Porter. “I’m so proud to be standing here as a black queer artist telling stories," Monae said. "Happy Black History Month.”

Two former Oscar hosts, Chris Rock and Steve Martin, provided the opening monologue. "An incredible demotion," Martin called it. Martin also reminded that something was missing from this year's directing nominees. “Vaginas!" Rock replied.

There were milestones, nevertheless. In winning best adapted screenplay for his Nazi satire “Jojo Rabbit,” the New Zealand filmmaker Taika Waititi became the first indigenous director ever to win an Oscar. He dedicated the award to “all the indigenous kids in the world who want to do art, dance and write stories.”

“We are the original storytellers,” Waititi said.

“Joker” composer Hildur Gudnadottir became only the third woman to ever win best original score. ”To the girls, to the women, to the mothers, to the daughters who hear the music opening within, please speak up," said Gudnadottir. "We need to hear your voices."

Awards were spread around to all of the best-picture nominees, with the lone exception being Martin Scorsese's 10-time nominee “The Irishman.”

“1917," acclaimed for its technical virtuosity, took awards for Roger Deakins' cinematography, visual effects and sound mixing. The car racing throwback “Ford v Ferrari” was also honored for its craft, winning both editing and sound editing. Gerwig's Louisa May Alcott adaptation “Little Women” won for Jacqueline Durran's costume design. “Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood” for Barbara Ling's production design.

Netflix came in with a leading 24 nominations. Along with the win for “Marriage Story,” the streamer's “American Factory” won best documentary. The film is the first release from Barack and Michelle Obama's Higher Ground Productions. No studio has spent more heavily this awards season than Netflix, which is seeking its first best picture win after coming up just shy last year with “Roma.”

Pixar extended its domination of the best animated film category, winning for “Toy Story 4.” It's the 10th Pixar film to win the award and second “Toy Story” film to do so, following the previous 2010 installment.

It was an early award for the Walt Disney Co which despite last year amassing a record $13 billion in worldwide box office and owning the network the Oscars are broadcast on, played a minor role in the ceremony. The bulk of its awards came from 20th Century Fox (“Ford v Ferrari”) and Fox Searchlight (“Jojo Rabbit”), both of which the company took control of after its $71.3 billion acquisition of 21st Century Fox last year.

Disney's ABC, which is broadcasting the show live, hoped a widely watched field of nominees — including the $1 billion-grossing “Joker,” up for a leading 11 awards — will help viewership. Last year’s show garnered 29.6 million viewers, a 12% uptick.

In a year of streaming upheaval throughout the industry, this year’s Oscar favorites were largely movies released widely in theaters. They also predominantly featured male characters and came from male directors.

After a year in which women made significant gains behind the camera, no female directors were nominated for best director. The acting categories are also the least diverse since the fallout of #OscarsSoWhite pushed the academy to remake its membership. Cynthia Erivo (“Harriet”) is the only actor of color nominated. Those results, which have been a topic in speeches through awards season, stand in contrast to research that suggests the most popular movies star more people of color than ever before.

© 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.


50 Comments
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Congratulations!

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Spirited Away with Best Animated Film in 2003 and now Parasite winning Best Picture in 2020 (becoming the first non English language film to win this award). This year's Oscars has been an amazing night for the Korean film industry. And not just an amazing night for Korea. It's also a fantastic night for Asian cinematography and I hope that the success of Parasite and the earlier success of Spirited Away aren't just one offs. I really hope that the world wakes up to some of the amazing talent that Asia is offering. Because there shouldn't be any self imposed language barriers when enjoying the artistic talent that can be found in Asian film and music!!!

10 ( +12 / -2 )

Korean's are really talented when it comes to films, especially their actors/actresses.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Watershed moment for the Oscars. 1917, while a great film, is not unique in being a war epic which moves you with a show of human bravery.

Parasite is one of a kind, wonderfully quirky, funny, thrilling and unpredictable to the end and a reflection of our society.

Well deserved, the Korean entertainment industry has been getting all sorts of plaudits the last couple of decades but many will look back at the Best Picture award at the Oscars as when it stepped out truly into the mainstream limelight.

12 ( +13 / -1 )

Parasite was a very entertaining film. Glad it won.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

Well done to the director and those in the movie. I was surprised the film beat out 1917, but am glad for those involved, and for SK and Asia.

-1 ( +8 / -9 )

 “I am ready to drink tonight,” Bong said

Ready to do Bongs would be more likely. It is legal almost all over the US...just saying.

-1 ( +8 / -9 )

I wonder how this will play in Japan? I hope they are congratulatory and that we get to see this movie soon.

0 ( +6 / -6 )

Its playing right now - But obviously in Korean with JP subtitles. My Blu-Ray from the US fortunately arrived last week so I actually watched it home Saturday evening. I think its available for rent on US iTunes also.

I haven't seen 1917 so impossible for me to judge one over the other but I really did enjoy Parasite - its actually fully deserved. I wanted Tarantino to win and I'm pleased Brad Pitt finally for an (acting) Oscar - but this WAS the better film.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Well done! Well overdue that a non-english film won the Best Movie Oscar. I look forward to watching Parasite.

12 ( +12 / -0 )

I don't get how Irishman even got a nomination, just a long movie that could have easily had half of it cut out with no negative impact, I swear people only care about that movie because of the people involved.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Unbelievable..

-9 ( +3 / -12 )

For the 87th time, no women were nominated for best director this year

Come on, women! Step up your game!

-8 ( +2 / -10 )

The win for “Parasite” came in year in which many criticized the lack of diversity in the nominees and the absence of female filmmakers. But the triumph for “Parasite” enabled Hollywood to flip the script, and signal a different kind of progress.

So... it won because of "diversity" eh? Too bad. I was hoping to watch it.

-6 ( +5 / -11 )

I am with you Bugle Boy. Every single article keeps trying to take away from an amazing film by saying Hollywood is trying to show diversity and trying to recapture its weakening influence in Asia. While certain blockbusters hit in Asia, other films have been bombing. Regardless of what the reasons are behind it, it's an amazing film and well deserved.

Now, while Joker was a nice film, I truly believe Adam Sandler should have won it this year. "Uncut Gems" was a chance to see Sandler take his acting to a new area and show real evolution. His character was believable and it shows how gambling addiction can destroy someone.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

I am with you Bugle Boy. Every single article keeps trying to take away from an amazing film by saying Hollywood is trying to show diversity and trying to recapture its weakening influence in Asia. While certain blockbusters hit in Asia, other films have been bombing. Regardless of what the reasons are behind it, it's an amazing film and well deserved.

I hope so! I generally don't watch foreign films, but I have enjoyed a few. I would love to enjoy this one and not quit halfway through because it was a meaningless gesture.

Now, while Joker was a nice film, I truly believe Adam Sandler should have won it this year. "Uncut Gems" was a chance to see Sandler take his acting to a new area and show real evolution. His character was believable and it shows how gambling addiction can destroy someone.

Haven't seen it yet, but he looks great in the trailers. I liked his comments after the award show tho! Ouch!

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

Good to see them honoring a film which isn't from America nor in English. I like a lot of the Korean movies and have enjoyed many Asian films since coming to Japan, after having seen only 5 or 6 while growing up in the U.S.. Diversify your thinking.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Bugle Boy of Company BToday  04:18 pm JST

So... it won because of "diversity" eh? Too bad. I was hoping to watch it.

Forget about that crap. It's entertaining so worth watching.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

JJ Jetplane: watched Uncut Gems last night. It was hard to watch because you knew what was coming (won’t say anything). Best fo Adam Sandler since Punch drunk Love. Very intense movie.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

I thought Parasite was the best film I saw last year so I'm glad it won.

Now, while Joker was a nice film, I truly believe Adam Sandler should have won it this year.

I didn't like Joker much at all. It was too long, the crowd scenes were poor, it seemed old-fashioned and cobbled together from bits of far better movies made in the 70s but Phoenix's performance was impressive. Uncut Gems was fantastic, a real intense blast of a film and Sandler's performance was astonishing. I didn't know he had it in him. He would have got my vote if I had one.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

I say, I have no idea and no interest at all in K-POPs ( actually I hate those K-pop young guys who do too much make-ups and cosmetic surgery) , but among regular posters here, I think I would be the one of those who know the most and have seen so much of K-drama, K-movie ( I think I have seen them more than ordinary Koreans in SK)

1-inch barrier of subtitles to be overcome actually works better for me rather than straight listening, to watch movie/drama without it and think what's going on. And quite often, good for my improvement for listening an speaking skills.

In this entertainment business fields, S-Korea has been doing great. Congrats!

1 ( +3 / -2 )

I remember the expression that if you saw how a sausage was made, you wouldn’t eat it. I thought something similar about films - if you saw speeches at the Academy Awards, you couldn’t watch these people in movies.

Does anyone know if Korean actors and actresses are generally as annoying, self-congratulatory and annoying as the Hollywood types? The luvvie British types are even worse. I boycotted all British films a long time ago.

Can someone give me the green light to watch Parasite?

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

@Jimizo

Best way for me to describe "parasite" without ruining it is to say it's a very realistic movie where you can genuinely picture the entire events unfolding in real life even if you don't have experience in either spectrum of the lifestyles. It's a movie that can be applied across all languages and all cultures.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

I once stumbled into this movie rather coincidentally. Now I learned it was nominated and even won, which is great - Me too, I recommend to watch this sneaky movie, the plots and twists are great.

For those who don't like subtitles don't worry, I assume a Hollywood remake will become available soon ^^;

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I “stumbled” onto The Matrix knowing nothing about it. THAT was a fun surprise! It’s nice to watch anything good without any hints at all.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

@Jimizo

Best way for me to describe "parasite" without ruining it is to say it's a very realistic movie where you can genuinely picture the entire events unfolding in real life even if you don't have experience in either spectrum of the lifestyles. It's a movie that can be applied across all languages and all cultures.

Much appreciated my friend, but I need to know if the actors are tossers.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

but I need to know if the actors are tossers.

Yes, unfortunately all of them are total tossers except for two who are complete wankers. And one may be a twat, but I'm not quite sure about that. Just watch the film, it's good.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Yes, unfortunately all of them are total tossers except for two who are complete wankers. And one may be a twat, but I'm not quite sure about that. 

Cheers. I’m getting closer.

Does anybody know the Korean equivalent of double-barreled surnames, ‘Benedict Cumberbach’, ‘Phoebe’ or ‘Grant’?

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

We Japanese envy Korean movie industry, as we know our recent movies are trash.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

I don't know whether it was worthy of an Oscar or not but I certainly enjoyed it. Thanks to the airline on which I saw it. I probably wouldn't have watched it had I not read that it had won an international award, but so glad I did. I enjoyed the twists and turns. There's just something about Korean movies that gives them an edge over Japanese movies. Congratulations to the director, actors and the rest of the crew. Also glad it wasn't yet another one of those Asian slapstick comedies with tarentos or 'singers'.

Just one question - why is their toilet up half a level and not on the ground?

And I have no problems enjoying films with subtitles - better than dubbed movies.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Now, while Joker was a nice film, I truly believe Adam Sandler should have won it this year. "Uncut Gems" was a chance to see Sandler take his acting to a new area and show real evolution. His character was believable and it shows how gambling addiction can destroy someone.

Trouble trying to separate him from his comedy. His highest grossing films are always his comedy. People don't want to watch his films unless it's comedy

0 ( +0 / -0 )

There is no doubt the Academy voters chose Parasite as best film solely to deflect criticisms of how "White" the Oscars was/is.

Certainly Parasite was the best movie out of the nominees, and it was the right choice, but the Academy voters chose it for the wrong reasons.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

We Japanese envy Korean movie industry, as we know our recent movies are trash.

dont worry. Older Japanese movies were mostly trash too.

-8 ( +2 / -10 )

(giggle)

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

@Jimizo,

Pparasite is a story about a poor family infiltrating a wealthy family but the twist is that the wealthy family was already infiltrated by yet another poor family to begin with. So those two poor family fights for scrabs in the basement of the house and the husband of the maid hiding in the basement ended up killing the daughter of the poor family disguised as the art therapy teacher. And the father in rage ended up killing the patriarch of the rich family. So what started as a comedy end up in a killing spree.

I highly recommend you watch it urself.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

@ Jimizo

Can someone give me the green light to watch Parasite?

I've not seen it yet, but judging from two Korean films I saw last year, Train to Busan and A Taxi Driver starring Kang-ho Song (my favorite Korean actor), who plays a role in Parasite, I wouldn't hesitate to give anybody a green light to see any modern Korean movie recommended by reliable movie critics. Sadly, the over-commercialized Japanese film industry (with a few exceptions like Koreeda Hirokazu, Kurosawa Kiyoshi) has become moribund, afraid to take artistic risks or make serious films that present adult themes to Japanese audiences who have been infantilized by years of watching trash TV and blockbuster celluloid pablum.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Good to see them honoring a film which isn't from America nor in English.

There’s this myth that the Oscars are an international awards event.

Well, they’re not really. It’s the American film awards, and there’s a category for Best Foreign Language Film.

To win Best Picture, the movie needs to be in English.

This is just more anti-white woke propaganda from the left. Their ratings will tank next year, especially after they double down and pick a Spanish-language film for Best Picture.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

@Bugle Boy of Company B

dont worry. Older Japanese movies were mostly trash too.

He's talking about Akira Kurosawa era of Japanese movies, which Hollywood tried to remake and imitate.

Those were bygone era, when Japan was freer than it is today under the dictatorship of LDP and Abe san.

It is the creative freedom that produces great movies. Korea has that, Japan doesn't.

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

Thanks to all recommending the film, but I need someone to tell me that the Korean film industry isn’t awash with the kind of posturing crap we see in Hollywood, or even worse, the British film industry.

Is there a Korean Phoebe-Cumberbach-Fiennes-Grant type in this film?

I have allergies.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Jeff Ko:

Parasite is a story about a poor family infiltrating a wealthy family but the twist is that the wealthy family was already infiltrated by yet another poor family to begin with. So those two poor family fights for scrabs in the basement of the house and the husband of the maid hiding in the basement ended up killing the daughter of the poor family disguised as the art therapy teacher. And the father in rage ended up killing the patriarch of the rich family. So what started as a comedy end up in a killing spree

Yeah, I know, but can you give other people a few spoilers from the movie.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Kentarogaijin: "Unbelievable..."

Which movie do you think should have won?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

There is no doubt the Academy voters chose Parasite as best film solely to deflect criticisms of how "White" the Oscars was/is.

Certainly Parasite was the best movie out of the nominees, and it was the right choice, but the Academy voters chose it for the wrong reasons.

@old man - So the 8,000 plus voters of The Academy, in their quest to award the year's best film, had the wrong motivation to simply prove a point about diversity, and in doing so gave the award to the best film of the year?

Okay...

1 ( +1 / -0 )

He's talking about Akira Kurosawa era of Japanese movies, which Hollywood tried to remake and imitate.

Those were bygone era, when Japan was freer than it is today under the dictatorship of LDP and Abe san.

It is the creative freedom that produces great movies. Korea has that, Japan doesn't.

I wonder what LDP and Abe have got to do with the creative freedom. How about the quality of Japanese animation then? that attracted and interested so many youth worldwide. Isn't it they have got more to do with Directors Guild of Japan if there's any reason Japanese movies seem inferior you want to find out? The chairman of it is, needless to say, a Korean.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

It is the creative freedom that produces great movies. Korea has that, Japan doesn't.

Pffft!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This is just more anti-white woke propaganda from the left. 

I speak English but I'm having difficulties understanding the above statement.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

So... it won because of "diversity" eh? Too bad. I was hoping to watch it.

Why not watch it and make your own mind up?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

"We Japanese envy Korean movie industry, as we know our recent movies are trash".

...

dont worry. Older Japanese movies were mostly trash too.

@Bugle Boy of Company B

a troll or you don,t know anything about ( the history of ) Japanese cinema. ( excluding Hollywood here ) Japanese film industry goes side by side with the British film industry, the French and the Italian. ( note: not talking about numbers, talking about quality )

dont worry. Older Japanese movies were mostly trash too.

He's talking about Akira Kurosawa era of Japanese movies, which Hollywood tried to remake and imitate.

Those were bygone era, when Japan was freer than it is today under the dictatorship of LDP and Abe san.

It is the creative freedom that produces great movies. Korea has that, Japan doesn't.

that didn,t make much sense but... when you say... "Akira Kurosawa era of Japanese movies"? do you think Japanese cinema in the 50,s, 60,s, 70,s, 80,s and 90,s was just Akira Kurosawa? i don,t like when people think it,s enough to say those two words when they want to summarize the history of Japanese cinema.

i watched Parasite and what a great movie that is, but, it,s funny, when people say that South Korean film industry is a lot better than the Japanese. the success ( and quality ) of South Korean movies is relatively recent. they will never gonna catch the Japanese because no one can erase the history of Japanese cinema.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Youtube 80's 90's J-POP, you would remind yourself of how great they were , influencing entire Asia including S-Korea. Who, I actually think , cares about Oscars!!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@old man - So the 8,000 plus voters of The Academy, in their quest to award the year's best film, had the wrong motivation to simply prove a point about diversity, and in doing so gave the award to the best film of the year?

Dunno if it can be discerned - whether people voted because it's different or because they really like it

How does one go about trying to prove one or other?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Haven't seen the movie, but congratulations to South Korea for such a huge achievement. It'll undoubtedly give a boost to its entertainment industry.

With that said, why are people comparing the JP movie industry with the Korean? There's nothing to compare.

Korea just started its journey to making great movies.

Japan had been doing it since the 60s, if not earlier. ONE movie doesn't erase history. Nothing and no one can erase history. It's up there with American, British, and Hong Kong cinema.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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