The Academy Awards come around year after year and usually serve as a reminder of the lack of diversity and recognition in Hollywood. Last year’s big picture winner, Green Book, stirred up controversy because viewers felt the movie had too many flaws to beat out better alternatives that year, including Black Panther and BlacKkKlansman. It seems the Oscars can never evade a hosting fiasco, although to be fair, hosting such a big event in front of such big names is no easy task. Nobody is going to forget about 2017’s misreading of cue cards that led La La Land to be called up as best picture winner, only for Moonlight to be revealed as the actual winner. In short, the past few years haven’t been great for the Academy Awards.
The award show was, for the most part, predictable, but the speeches were uplifting and heartfelt. Joaquin Phoenix, Laura Dern, and Brad Pitt picked up Oscars, unsurprisingly since all three received the corresponding awards at the Golden Globes.
What stole the night, though, was Parasite’s sweeping wins. It won Best Picture, Best Director, Best Foreign Language Film, and Best Original Screenplay making history for South Korea, foreign films, and the Academy Awards. This was the first time that a South Korean movie had ever been nominated for an Oscar, let alone won. It was also the first time a movie not in English won Best Picture. While it seemed obvious that Parasite would win Best International Film, people were shocked and excited to see that Parasite won Best Picture since most had expected Sam Mendes’s 1917 to pick up the award. The shock was especially apparent on Bong Joon Ho’s face each time he returned to the stage to claim another award for Parasite. Armed with a translator, he returned to the stage again and again giving speeches receiving positive reactions from the audience. Following the Oscars ceremony, Joon Ho has been very popular on the internet. The overwhelming support Parasite received throughout the Oscars from the audience was a stark contrast to the tension that hasn’t been uncommon for Oscars ceremonies.
Incredible on all fronts, Parasite is a satirical social commentary about the gap between classes. The film is risky, and it’s not the type usually awarded by the Academy. The significance of Parasite’s wins extends beyond South Korea. Parasite’s win is a victory for international and minority films because Oscar wins help get movies recognition. Foreign films and movies starring or created by minorities rarely get Oscars. The Academy has a long way to go in terms of its diversity. No Asian actors/actresses were nominated despite Parasite’s success, and only one Black actor was nominated. Many patterns still need to be broken, like the complete disregard of female directors time and time again. Political views and other biases play a large part in which films win Oscars when the Oscars should simply award the best films and give them recognition. It’s ignorant to think that all good cinema comes out of the United States. Many people in this country have trouble seeing films from other countries as anything but ‘foreign films,’ since they haven’t gotten as much recognition. President Trump recently said, “The winner is a movie from South Korea. What the hell was that all about? We’ve got enough problems with South Korea, with trade and after all that, they give them best movie of the year?” Film is film, whatever language it happens to be in. It’s hard to tell if Parasite’s win — which was truly well-deserved — was simply the Academy trying to keep itself relevant after its repeated controversies and racism, or if it will actually be a shift towards a fairer and less biased Academy Awards. The next award season will show us if this was a turning point for the Academy Awards, or if it will in history be seen as an exception.