LOS ANGELES – South Korea’s “Parasite” won four honors at the 92nd Academy Awards on Sunday, including the Best Director and the Best Picture, becoming the first foreign language film in Oscars’ history to win the latter.
In what was seen as one of the most competitive and high-quality Oscar in recent years, the Academy bowed to the massive phenomenon called “Parasite,” a black comedy-thriller about inequality and the dark side of capitalism.
Established names such as Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino and Sam Mendes were pipped for the biggest honors by South Korean Bong Joon-ho, already an acclaimed figure in world cinema.
“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,” producer Kwan Sin-ae said after accepting the Best Picture award, with the entire Dolby Theater in Los Angeles giving the team behind the film a standing ovation.
But all eyes were on Bong, whose brainchild also took the honors for the Best International Feature Film and Best Original Screenplay.
The director said he was “ready to drink” after winning the award for best international film, and had not been expecting the best director and best picture honors.
“When I was young and studying cinema, there was a saying that I carved deep into my heart, which is, ‘The most personal is the most creative.’ That quote is from our great Martin Scorsese. When I was in school, I studied Scorsese’s films. Just to be nominated was a huge honor,” Bong told reporters.
“Parasite,” which had also won big at the Cannes and the Golden Globes, has convinced Hollywood to look beyond the English-speaking countries, with the Korean-language film being released in the United States with subtitles and collecting $165 million worldwide.
Sam Mendes’ war drama “1917” had to contend with the awards for Best Cinematography, Best Special Effects and Best Sound Mixing despite being considered among the favorites for the best film and best director category.
“Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood,” “Joker” and “Ford and Ferrari” won two awards each, while Scorsese’s “The Irishman” proved to be the big shocker, failing to win any prize despite getting 10 nominations.
The acting awards did not throw up any big surprises, with Joaquin Phoenix taking home the expected Oscar for Best Actor.
“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,” said Pheonix – known for his environmental activism – in his acceptance speech.
“We’re talking about the fight against the belief that one nation, one people, one race, one gender or one species has the right to dominate, control and use and exploit another with impunity,” he added.
Renee Zellweger, who returned Hollywood in style with “Judy,” – a biographical drama about singer-actor Judy Garland – won the Best Actress award for the acclaimed film.
“Garland did not receive this honor in her time. I am certain that this moment is an extension of the celebration of her legacy that began on our film set,” Zellweger said.
The honors for the Best Supporting Actor and Actress were given to favorites Brad Pitt for “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood” and Laura Dern for “Marriage Story” respectively.
Pitt used the occasion to thank director Tarantino, calling him “original” and “one of a kind.”
“The film industry would be a much drier place without you,” said the veteran actor.
Dern dedicated the award to her parents.
“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,” she said.
Hildur Guonadottir became the first woman to win the Best Original Score award in Oscar history for “Joker” and dedicated the honor to all the women who “hear the music bubbling within,” adding “Please speak up, we need to hear your voices.”