In a truly stunning win that caps off an equally stunning awards season run, Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite scooped the Oscar for Best Picture tonight. Since it debuted at the Cannes Film Festival last May, Bong’s black comedy thriller has been making history, and has now become the only foreign-language film to ever take the Academy’s top prize (note that while it was a French movie, the only line of dialogue in The Artist is in English).
Parasite‘s momentum tonight at the Dolby appeared to genuinely surprise Bong who started out the evening with the Best Original Screenplay Oscar, followed by the International Feature Film prize — upon which he declared he was “bloody ready to drink” until tomorrow morning. When he later won Best Director, he said he’d thought his time on stage was over with the previous award. He then paid tribute to Martin Scorsese, and added he really was ready to drink. But the Parasite momentum wasn’t over yet, and next came Best Picture.
With four Oscars, Parasite became the night’s biggest winner. This was also a huge night for South Korea which had never been nominated for the International Feature (formerly Foreign Language Film) Oscar, much less Best Picture, despite having one of the most robust local industries in the world — and incredibly sophisticated audiences. It is also a triumph for global cinema.
Bong has championed foreign-language movies on the campaign trail, and breaking down the barriers of subtitles. He did not speak upon the Best Picture win, standing among his cast and collaborators on stage. Instead it was producer Kwak Sin Ae who took the mic, echoing Bong’s sentiments, “It feels like a very opportune moment in history is happening right now. I express my deepest gratitude and respect to all members of the academy for making this decision.”
As the lights dimmed prematurely on the winners, shouts of “Up!, Up!, Up!” rose from the audience and Miky Lee, Vice-Chairwoman of Korean powerhouse CJ Group and an exec producer on the film, then took over. She said, “I would really like to thank director Bong. Thank you for being you. I like everything about him: his smile, his crazy hair, the way he talks, the way he walks and especially the way he directs. What I really like about him is his sense of humor and the fact he can be really making fun of himself and he never takes himself seriously. And I’d like to thank everybody who has been supporting Parasite and who has been working with Parasite and who has been loving Parasite.”
She continued with a shoutout to Korea. “I really, really, really want to thank our Korean film audience, our moviegoers who’ve been really supporting all our movies and never hesitated to give us straightforward opinions… That made us really never able to be complacent and the directors, the creators to keep pushing the envelope. Without you, our Korean film audience, we are not here.” (The Oscars are currently the top trending topic in Korea.)
This awards season darling has been on a fairy tale trajectory ever since it won the Palme d’Or in Cannes, and a major factor for awards bodies, guilds and festivals. Parasite is also Neon’s first Best Picture win. Domestically, the box office has reached a terrific $35.5M (and now has a shot of surging 25%). Worldwide is at $165.4M.
The other titles contending for Best Picture tonight were 1917, Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, Joker, Ford V Ferrari, Little Women, Marriage Story, Jojo Rabbit and The Irishman.