BONG HIVE STAND UUUUUP! The Oscars were this past Sunday night, and for the first time since “Moonlight” blindsided everyone, especially Warren Beatty, in 2016, I felt real justice from the Academy and its voters. “Parasite,” a film directed by acclaimed Korean director Bong Joon Ho, became the first movie not in the English language to win best picture. And if that was not enough of a prize, it also took home awards for Best International Feature, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay. I plan on reviewing it properly sometime later in the term when more people have seen it because I am not sure I will be able to review it without spoilers. So go check it out now because it is available to stream as we speak!
Moving into this Oscars season, many fans were gunning for “Parasite” to win major awards but feared industry guild and academy members were not quite ready to recognize a non-English language film with some of their highest honors. Even though “Parasite” won the prestigious Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, that was no guarantee of success in the U.S. awards circuit. However, that expectation started to change towards the end of this awards season when “Parasite” began to sweep major guild awards including the Screen Writers Guild Award for Best Original Screenplay and the SAG Award for Best Performance by a Cast in Motion Picture. Big wins at these guild awards tend to indicate higher chances of a film receiving top honors at the Oscars. Then, lo and behold, come the biggest night in Hollywood, it was four Oscar trophies for Director Bong and his collaborators.
There is a lot to be happy about with these wins. A “foreign language film” taking home awards in these important categories signifies that film is becoming a truly international industry. Bong Joon Ho has thrown a great deal of shade at American audiences and Hollywood in general this season, calling the Oscars a “local” awards show and encouraging audiences to get over the “one inch barrier” of subtitles. Hopefully these wins and an impressive and ever-increasing domestic box office gross for “Parasite” signify that American film audiences are opening up to non-English language films and international film in general. I would also hope it encourages more U.S. production companies to take a chance on American multilingual films like “The Farewell” (dir. Lulu Wang), the winner of Best Feature at this year’s Independent Spirit Awards.
Then, finally, it is just an absolute delight to see Bong Joon Ho enjoy his success and be overwhelmed with the entire experience of winning four Oscars in a night. His little giggle while staring at his first Oscar statue and the ever so quotable, “I will drink until next morning,” were just a couple highlights of Director Bong’s speeches. Also, he made two of his Oscars Statues kiss each other, which was adorable. Director Bong said gay rights! But all joking aside, “Parasite” taking Best Picture is going to be a win and a movie that we remember for years to come, and I only hope that it is the first sign of a shift towards international inclusivity in a very rigid industry.
The rest of the night went mostly as planned: Roger Deakins rightfully received the Best Cinematography award for his impressive work on “1917.” A master of the craft, Deakins was instrumental in creating the illusion of “1917’s” one continuous take.
Hildur Guðnadóttir took home the award for Best Original Score. Readers of my column will recall that I singled her out as one of the only things I liked in the movie “Joker.” I especially appreciated her acceptance speech where she encouraged young women to hear the music in their hearts and speak up. Though she is not the first woman to receive that award, I look forward to women who win Best Original Score down the line citing her and her speech as a point of inspiration.
The four acting category winners were consistent with previous awards ceremonies this season. Laura Dern and Brad Pitt won Best Supporting Actress for “Marriage Story” and Best Supporting Actor for “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” respectively. Renee Zellweger won Best Actress for her portrayal of Judy Garland in “Judy,” and Joaquin Phoenix gave a truly bizarre speech about human rights and not artificially inseminating cows while accepting his Best Actor Award for “Joker.”
Though the actual ceremony was a bit rough and disjointed, the lack of a host allowed to show more footage of performances, a full segment for a medley of Best Original Score nominees and long speech times for artists who deserve their recognition and a moment to acknowledge those who made their success possible. People introducing people who then introduced a clip which introduced Eminem aside, it was a fine ceremony with many earned wins and joyful moments. #BONGHIVE