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Parasite on Sunday was named best picture at the 2020 Oscars, picking up its fourth win of the night. It is the first best picture win for indie distributor Neon, which was founded in 2017 by Tom Quinn.
The film also received honors Sunday night for best director, best international film, and best screenplay.
The category was introduced by Jane Fonda, who said, “Here are the films that made the greatest impact this year” as she presented the nominated films. When Parasite producer Kwak Sin-ae took the stage to accept the award, she said via a translator, “I’m speechless. We never imagined this to ever happen, we are so happy. I feel like a very opportune moment in history is happening right now. I express my deepest gratitude and respect for all the members of the Academy for making this decision.”
After the lights onstage briefly went down, signaling the end of the show, the audience gestured and yelled for producers to let the speeches continue. They obliged, turning the lights back on, and the speeches then continued.
“I’d really like to thank director Bong [Joon Ho],” said Miky Lee, referencing the way he directs in addition to his “smile” and “crazy hair.” The group then thanked the Korean film audience, who “never hesitate” to give straightforward opinions on their movies.
In claiming the top prize, Parasite beat out fellow nominated films 1917, Ford v Ferrari, The Irishman, Jojo Rabbit, Joker, Little Women, Marriage Story and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
Parasite, a drama about class discrimination, made history as the first-ever non-English-language best picture Oscar winner. According to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Parasite is the eleventh non-English language film nominated for best picture and the sixth to be nominated for both best international feature film (formerly known as best foreign-language film) and best picture in the same year.
Each of the previous five (Z, 1969; Life Is Beautiful, 1998; Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, 2000; Amour, 2012; and Roma, 2018) won for best foreign-language film but not best picture.
Earlier in the evening, Parasite was honored with another major win when Bong was tapped as best director. The film also won best original screenplay and international feature film honors.
Backstage, Bong reflected on the best picture win in the press room. “I’m just a very strange person,” he said via a translator. “I just did what I’ve always done, with very great artists… it was the same process making this film. It still feels very surreal. I feel like something will hit me and I will wake up from this dream.” He went on to say, “Parasite, which is purely a Korean film, has garnered more enthusiasm from audiences all over the world.”
Considering his director win, Bong said, “I’ve seen Scorsese lose this award multiple times. When he won for The Departed I was so happy. So, to be nominated with him is a huge honor. It’s hard to believe.”
Of the future of the best picture category, he concluded, “I think there will come a day when a foreign language film or not, it doesn’t really matter.” Teasing his next project, he said he is working on two projects: one in Korean and the other in English.
Said producer Kwak backstage, “To just win one award would have been a huge celebration, but to win in four categories, I can’t even imagine the atmosphere in Korea and what will happen when we get back.”
In terms of box office numbers, Parasite is one of the top-grossing foreign-language films of all time in the U.S., with a domestic gross of $35.5 million through Sunday. It has earned $165.4 million globally to date.
The 92nd Oscars took place at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood and were televised live on ABC.
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