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:
Joaquin Phoenix, Joker
Renee Zellweger, Judy
Brad Pitt, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Laura Dern, Marriage Story
Bong Joon Ho, Parasite
Animated Feature Film:
Toy Story 4
Hair Love, Matthew A. Cherry
Jojo Rabbit, Taika Waititi
Parasite, Bong Joon-ho, Jin Won Han
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
Ford v Ferrari, Michael McCusker, Andrew Buckland
Ford v Ferrari, Don Sylvester
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Barbara Ling and Nancy Haigh
Joker, Hildur Guðnadóttir
“I’m Gonna Love Me Again,” Rocketman
Makeup and Hair:
Little Women, Jacqueline Durran