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Bong Joon-ho makes Oscars history

Google Parasite collage
The web was awash with Parasite Oscar-related images this morning

We almost feared that he had jinxed himself with that comment about the Academy Awards being “very local”. The comment, made in an interview with Vulture in October 2019, was made in the context that it’s “not a big deal” that a Korean movie had yet to be nominated for an Oscar (the nominations for the 2020 Oscars weren’t announced until 13 January this year). Of course, he didn’t want to get his own nomination hopes up. Which is what made his four awards even more pleasurable:

In fact, that Vulture article turned out remarkably prescient:

Still, it’s hard not to feel that Bong could make (local) history. In a post-Roma world, maybe Parasite doesn’t get just Best International Film but Best Picture and Best Director nominations, too

At the time, even that dream seemed optimistic. But those nominations came, along with nominations for best original screenplay, best editing and best production design. Given the groundswell of critical support for Parasite, as well as awards such as best ensemble prize from the US Screen Actors Guild, and best original screenplay and foreign language film at the BAFTAs, maybe people were expecting a Best International Film award to come through at last night’s Oscars ceremony. But to get the best screenplay, director and picture awards too was way beyond expectations, particularly as no foreign language movie had ever won Best Picture before.

That obviously doesn’t make Parasite the best ever foreign language movie. But maybe, as we move into the third decade of the 21st Century, the white, English speaking world is becoming more open to diversity. As Bong said through interpreter Sharon Choi when picking up his best foreign-language film at the Golden Globes: “Once you overcome the one-inch tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films.”

Bong Joon-ho’s Memories of Murder was by pretty universal consent the best Korean movie of the first decade of the 21st Century. People are still preparing similar lists for the second decade, but based on the ones I’ve seen so far, and supported by the Cannes Palme d’Or and Oscar Best Picture awards, it’s not too far a stretch to imagine that Parasite will be at the top for the teens too.

Commiserations to Yi Seung-jun and Gary Byung-seok Kam, Oscar nominees in the Best Short Documentary category for In The Absence, who lost out to Carol Dysinger and Elena Andreicheva with Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If you’re a Girl). Congratulations to Parasite Co-Producer Kwak Sin-ae who shares the best picture award with Bong, and Han Jin-won who shares the Best Original Screenplay award. The full list of Oscar nominees and winners can be found on the official website here.

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