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Is Parasite’s Oscar a marker for a more inclusive and globalised Hollywood?

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Rohith Bhaskar
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It’s funny, isn’t it? Just a few days before the Oscars commenced, questions were raised over the academy’s exclusion of a female name in the best director category. It was the second year in the row that the best director nominations were all male. There was rightly a subtle protest over the snubs, with actress Natalie Portman even wearing a cape embroidered with the names of female directors. 

As people pondered over the inclusiveness of the academy, the unthinkable happened. Parasite, the Korean film took home the best picture oscar, the first foreign-language film to do so. 

South Korea’s large pool of talent isn’t exactly unknown, with many directors like Park Chan-wook or Kim Ki-Duk having gained some global recognition, even if its relegated to the festival circuit. Bong Joon-Ho has himself ingrained himself into Hollywood with his films like The Host, Snowpiercer and the award-darling Okja quite popular on streaming services. 

Joon-Ho has been knocking at the academy’s door’s for a while, this year they finally let him in. 

In the process, this has now established South Korea as a cultural powerhouse and while the exclusion of women for two years in a row from the best director category is disappointing, the academy has at least dulled the blow by honouring a foreign language film. It’s a somewhat positive look for the academy following the controversy but more importantly, it’s the affirmation of South Korea’s film industry. 

Over the years, South Korea has established itself as a cultural force to be reckoned with. The popularity of BTS as the number one boy-band in the world has put the limelight on K-Pop, the success of the YouTube Viral Baby Shark has spawned a merchandising empire and South Korea’s romantic soaps have cracked the Chinese market and are popular across Asia.     

For the Oscars, the only barrier for the award seemed to be the one-inch subtitles, one that has been broken with Parasite’s win. 

As for Hollywood, these are positive signs that they are finally moving away from relegating foreign films to a separate category. They are finally being viewed as just films deserving to be at the same stage as the others. 

As for the rest winners, here is a full list: 

Best Picture:

Parasite

Lead Actor:

Joaquin Phoenix, Joker

Lead Actress:

Renee Zellweger, Judy

Supporting Actor:

Brad Pitt, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Supporting Actress:

Laura Dern, Marriage Story

Director:

Bong Joon Ho, Parasite

Animated Feature Film:

Toy Story 4

Animated Short:

Hair Love, Matthew A. Cherry

Adapted Screenplay:

Jojo Rabbit, Taika Waititi

Original Screenplay:

Parasite, Bong Joon-ho, Jin Won Han

Cinematography:

1917, Roger Deakins

Best Documentary Feature:

American Factory, Julia Reichert, Steven Bognar

Best Documentary Short Subject:

Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone

Best Live Action Short Film:

The Neighbors’ Window, Marshall Curry

Best Foreign Language Film:

Parasite, Bong Joon Ho

Film Editing:

Ford v Ferrari, Michael McCusker, Andrew Buckland

Sound Editing:

Ford v Ferrari, Don Sylvester

Sound Mixing:

1917

Production Design:

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Barbara Ling and Nancy Haigh

Original Score:

Joker, Hildur Guðnadóttir

Original Song:

“I’m Gonna Love Me Again,” Rocketman

Makeup and Hair:

Bombshell

Costume Design:

Little Women, Jacqueline Durran

Visual Effects:

1917

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