Oscars 2020: ‘Parasite’ Makes History With Best Picture Win

 

LOS ANGELES — A foreign-language film finally conquered the Oscars.

In a historic victory that highlighted the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ scramble to diversify its voting ranks following the outcry over #OscarsSoWhite, the South Korean thriller “Parasite” won best picture — the first foreign-language film to do so — and collected three other trophies on Sunday night, including one for Bong Joon Ho’s directing.

“Parasite,” a genre-defying tale of class warfare, allowed voters to simultaneously embrace the future — Hollywood may finally be starting to move past its overreliance on white stories told by white filmmakers — and remain reverential to decades-old tradition: Unlike some other best-picture nominees, “Parasite” was given a conventional release in theaters.

[Here is a complete list of the Oscar winners.]

“I feel like a very opportune moment in history is happening right now,” Kwak Sin Ae, who produced “Parasite” with Bong, said as she accepted the Oscar for best picture. No film from South Korea had previously been nominated for Hollywood’s top prize.

The #OscarsSoWhite protests in 2015 and 2016 forced Hollywood to examine its systemic sidelining of minorities. Humiliated by the outrage that followed the academy’s failure to nominate any actors of color for Oscars — two years in a row — its leaders vowed to double minority membership by 2020. The academy has dramatically expanded its foreign contingent as a result, a necessity because Hollywood remains so overwhelmingly white and male. Last year, the academy invited 842 film industry professionals to become members, with invitees hailing from 59 countries.

The seismic win for “Parasite,” with its predominantly Asian cast, capped an Academy Awards ceremony that accentuated the importance of inclusion at every possible turn.

“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,” Hildur Gudnadottir said as she collected the Oscar for best score for “Joker.” Her Oscar ended the academy’s 22-year streak of honoring male composers.

In honoring “Parasite,” voters slowed the rise of Netflix, which entered the 92nd Academy Awards with a field-leading 24 nominations but left with only two prizes. It was a rebuke, perhaps, to the streaming giant for spending a sultan’s ransom to campaign for votes and for largely bypassing theaters with its films. Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman,” relentlessly hyped by Netflix as one of the best films of the decade, was shut out on Sunday.

Netflix won for best documentary for “American Factory,” a documentary about a clash between a Chinese entrepreneur and blue-collar Ohioans; and Laura Dern won supporting actress for “Marriage Story,” a Netflix production.

“Parasite” won four Oscars, the most for any film. The blockbuster war drama “1917” was second, a showing that was much weaker than handicappers had predicted. It won three Oscars, including best cinematography for Roger Deakins, during the three-and-a-half-hour ceremony at the Dolby Theater.

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