‘Parasite’ makes history as first non English film to win best picture Oscars, gets three more awards

“Parasite”, a stinging satire on class divides in South Korea, jumped the “one inch long subtitle barrier” to land on the Oscar stage – and in record books – as the first non-English film to win an Academy Award for best picture.
Coloured in various shades of black, Bong Joon Ho’s wicked comedy that found resonance the world over also won the best director Oscar as well as the awards for original screenplay and best international feature.
While the big wins for “Parasite”, the first South Korean film at the Oscars, came as a surprise for many, given the Academy Awards’ 92-year history of favouring English cinema, the awards in the acting categories were along expected lines.
Joaquin Phoenix won best actor for “Joker” and Renee Zellweger bagged best actress for “Judy”. Brad Pitt and Laura Dern won the supporting gongs for “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” and “Marriage Story”.
“Four times… It’s crazy. It’s an unbelievable night. It’s such a great honour. I feel like I’ll wake up to find this all a dream,” Bong, who famously spoke on foreign language films overcoming the “one inch subtitle barrier” when his film won the Golden Globe for best foreign film, said backstage after his Oscar wins.
With his film eclipsing big budget extravaganzas such as “1917”, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” and “The Irishman”, an overwhelmed Bong said he looked forward to the day when it would not be such a big deal for a foreign film to win in mainstream categories.
“I applaud and support the new direction that this change symbolises,” the 50-year-old said while accepting the international film Oscar from actor Penelope Cruz.
Though “Parasite” dominated the glittering ceremony held in Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre, prompting searching questions on whether this was really the beginning of the end of the conservatism of the Academy Awards, there were many who criticised the absence of women and people of colour in the main nominations.
Singer-actor Janelle Monae, who opened the host-less ceremony, addressed the lack of representation of women directors.
Addressing the gathering before her performance, including the likes of Tom Hanks, Martin Scorsese and Charlize Theron, she said she was proud to stand as a black queer artist, “telling stories”.
Starting with Chris Rock and Steve Martin, many Oscars presenters directed their jokes and jibes to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
“There’s something missing,” said Martin, to which Rock wondered “Vaginas?” as the audience roared with laughter.
Hollywood star Natalie Portman made a powerful statement by walking the red carpet in a black Dior cape with the last names of women directors who were snubbed by the Academy embroidered on it.
Phoenix, in a long speech, spoke on issues close to his heart.
“We’re talking about the fight against the belief that no one nation, one people, one race, one gender, or one species has the right to dominate, control and use and exploit another with impunity,” the actor said.
Zellweger, who won her first best actress Oscar for playing Judy Garland, said the award was “an extension of the celebration” of the iconic singer-actor’s legacy.
“Miss Garland, you were certainly among the heroes who unite and define us. And this is certainly for you,” she said.
Pitt was nostalgic and graceful in his speech, crediting “one of a kind” Quentin Tarantino and co-star Leonardo DiCaprio.
“Look for the best in people, expect the worst. Leo, I’ll ride on your coattails any day, man. The view’s fantastic… ‘Once upon a time’in Hollywood’. Ain’t that the truth?” the actor said. For Dern, her maiden Oscar win came as an early birthday present. “Some say never meet your heroes, but I say, if you’re really blessed, you get them as your parents. I share this with my acting heroes, my legends, Diane Ladd and Bruce Dern,” the actor, who turned 53 on Monday, said. Sam Mendes’ World War I drama “1917” may have been snubbed in the major categories but still managed to be the second highest winner with three trophies — cinematography, sound mixing and visual effects.
Writer-director Taika Waititi, who won the best adapted screenplay for his anti-war drama “Jojo Rabbit”, dedicated his award to “indigenous” heritage.
“I dedicate this to all the indigenous kids who live in the world who want to do art and dance and write stories. We are the original storytellers and we can make it here as well…,” the Maori descent artist said.
The second trophy for “Joker”, which entered the competition with maximum 11 nominations, was for the original score to Icelandic composer Hildur Gudnadottir.
Hildur, who ended the Academy’s two-decade history of honouring male composers, urged women to speak up and tell their own stories in her speech. “To the girls, to the women, to the mothers, to the daughters who hear the music bubbling within, please speak up. We need to hear your voices,” she said. “Rocketman”, Elton John’s biopic, earned the musician his second Oscar for the best song “(I’m Gonna) love me again”. He had first won the Oscar for “The Lion King” in 1994.
Period race drama “Ford V Ferrari” bagged editing and sound editing Oscars, while the production design trophy went to “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”.
“Little Women” was recognised in the costume design category while #MeToo drama “Bombshell” earned the Oscar for makeup.
“Toy Story 4” continued Disney-Pixar’s dominance at the Oscars by becoming the 10th film from the studio to win best animation feature.
The animation short Oscar went to “Hair Love”, about an African-American father learning to braid his daughter’s hair.
The documentary feature Oscar went to the Barack and Michelle Obama backed “American Factory”, about the face-off between a Chinese entrepreneur and factory workers in Ohio.
“Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl), which follows young Afghan girls learning to read, write and skateboard bagged the best documentary short Oscar, defeating Indian-origin filmmakers Sami Khan and Smriti Mundra’s “St Louis Superman” and three other films.
In a surprise performance, Eminem rapped his popular Oscar-winning track “Lose yourself” from “8 Mile”, while Elton John crooned to his “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again” from “Rocketman”, which won this year’s Academy Award for best original song.