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Parasite makes history at 2020 Oscars

Bong Joon Ho also accepted the award for Best Director.


The Academy Awards, commonly known as the Oscars, took place on Sunday night in Los Angeles, with South Korean dark comic thriller, Parasite, by Bong Joon Ho, winning four awards, including best picture, making it a historic event for a non-English speaking film to win the prestigious prize.

Bong Joon Ho also accepted the award for Best Director.

“After winning Best International Feature, I thought I was done for the day and was ready to relax,” he joked.

The director spent his speech thanking fellow nominees whom he beat out, such as Martin Scorsese, who was nominated for The Irishman.

“When I was in school, I studied Martin Scorsese’s films. Just to be nominated was a huge honour,” he said through his translator. “I never thought I would win.”

The director also won the prestigious directing award over Todd Phillips (Joker), Sam Mendes (1917), and Quentin Tarantino (Once Upon a Time in ... Hollywood), whom he also gave praise.

“When people in the US were not familiar with my film, Quentin always put my films on his list,” he said. “Thank you so much. Quentin, I love you.”

“Todd and Sam, great directors that I admire. If the Academy allows, I would like to get a Texas chainsaw, split the Oscar trophy into five and share it with all of you,” he added.

“I will drink until next morning,” he concluded, but this time in English.

Bong is the second director of a non-English film to win the accolade and also the second in a row, after Alfonso Cuarón’s win for “Roma” last year. He’s also the second Asian director to win, following Ang Lee, who won twice for “Brokeback Mountain” and “Life of Pi.”

Earlier in the night, Bong won Best International Feature Film and Original Screenplay.

Bong’s “Parasite” won best foreign language film at the Golden Globes and the Critics Choice Awards, both in January. He also tied with Mendes for best director at the Critics’ Choice ceremony and nabbed awards for original screenplay and film not in the English language at the BAFTAs.

The night also saw a first acting award for Brad Pitt for Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood and a writing win for New Zealander Taika Waititi for Nazi-era comedy Jojo Rabbit.

Laura Dern picked up the award for supporting actress for her role in Netflix’s Marriage Story.

Joaquin Phoenix won best actor for Joker, delivering an emotional speech.

“I’m full of so much gratitude now. I do not feel elevated above any of my fellow nominees or anyone in this room, because we share the same love – that’s the love of film. And this form of expression has given me the most extraordinary life. I don’t know where I’d be without it,” Phoenix said.

“But I think the greatest gift that it’s given me, and many people in [this industry] is the opportunity to use our voice for the voiceless. I’ve been thinking about some of the distressing issues that we’ve been facing collectively,” he added.

He also said, “I think at times we feel or are made to feel that we champion different causes. But for me, I see commonality. I think, whether we’re talking about gender inequality or racism or queer rights or indigenous rights or animal rights, we’re talking about the fight against injustice.”

“We’re talking about the fight against the belief that one nation, one people, one race, one gender, one species, has the right to dominate, use and control another with impunity,” he commented.

“I think we’ve become very disconnected from the natural world. Many of us are guilty of an egocentric world view, and we believe that we’re the centre of the universe… we go into the natural world and we plunder it for its resources. We feel entitled to artificially inseminate a cow and steal her baby, even though her cries of anguish are unmistakeable. Then we take her milk that’s intended for her calf and we put it in our coffee and our cereal.”

“We fear the idea of personal change, because we think we need to sacrifice something; to give something up. But human beings at our best are so creative and inventive, and we can create, develop and implement systems of change that are beneficial to all sentient beings and the environment,” he concluded.

Renee Zellweger won best actress for the Judy Garland biopic Judy.

Brad Pitt previously won as a producer of 12 Years a Slave but this is his first acting win. Other winners include costume design for Little Women and animated feature film for Toy Story 4.

1917 picked up wins for sound mixing, cinematography and visual effects.

For the second year in a row, the ceremony was hostless. Dark comic thriller Joker led the nominations with 11, while Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman, World War I epic 1917 and Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood all had 10 nods. The Irishman failed to win a single award.

The awards were presented amid ongoing controversy around the lack of representation of women and people of colour.

Greta Gerwig’s Little Women was the only movie directed by a woman that received a nomination for best picture, although Gerwig was snubbed in the all-male best director category.

Meanwhile, actor Chris Rock was quick to point out that only one person of colour had been nominated in any of the four acting categories — Cynthia Erivo for Harriet.

Animated short Hair Love, which features a young black girl’s father learning how to do her hair, picked up an award, with creators Matthew Cherry and Karen Rupert Toliver taking the opportunity to say “representation matters.”

Bong is the second director of a non-English film to win the accolade and also the second in a row, after Alfonso Cuarón’s win for “Roma” last year. He’s also the second Asian director to win, following Ang Lee, who won twice for “Brokeback Mountain” and “Life of Pi.”

Earlier in the night, Bong won Best International Feature Film and Original Screenplay.

Bong’s “Parasite” won best foreign language film at the Golden Globes and the Critics Choice Awards, both in January. He also tied with Mendes for best director at the Critics’ Choice ceremony and nabbed awards for original screenplay and film not in the English language at the BAFTAs.

Full list of winners:

Actor in a supporting role — Brad Pitt, Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood

Animated feature film — Toy Story 4

Animated short film — Hair Love

Original screenplay — Bong Joon-ho, Parasite

Adapted screenplay — Taika Waititi, Jojo Rabbit

Live action short film — The Neighbour’s Window

Production design — Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood

Costume design — Little Women

Documentary feature — American Factory

Documentary short subject — Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl)

Actress in a supporting role — Laura Dern, Marriage Story

Sound editing — Ford v Ferrari

Sound mixing — 1917

Cinematography — 1917

Film editing — Ford v Ferrari

Visual effects — 1917

Makeup and hairstyling — Bombshell

International feature film — Parasite

Original score — Joker

Original song — I’m Gonna Love Me Again, Rocket Man

Best directing — Bong Joon-Ho, Parasite

Actor in a leading role — Joaquin Phoenix, Joker

Actor in a leading role — Renee Zellweger, Judy

Best motion picture — Parasite

Topics: 2020 Oscars Parasite

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