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Rise of Parasite: Making History at the Oscars

Parasite, a South Korean film by Bong Joon Ho, just became the first movie not in the English language to win the highest honor, Best Picture, at the Oscars this past Sunday. Not only did the film win Best Picture, but it also won in three other categories: Best Director, Best International Film and Best Original Screenplay. The success of Parasite is unparalleled for an international film at the Oscars, where American cinema dominates the awards. Last year at the Oscars, the Mexican film Roma was nominated in several other categories outside of Best Foreign Language Film (now known as Best International Film) and, while it didn’t win in most of its categories, its success in nominations paved the way for Parasite this year.

Throughout the Oscars, the director of Parasite, Bong Joon Ho, delivered several speeches with his cast, crew, and translator. In his Best Director speech, Bong Joon Ho thanked and applauded the other directors nominated beside him, delivering huge praise to Quentin Tarantino and Martin Scorsese in particular, which warmed the hearts of the two men and the internet as well. In each of his speeches, Bong would mention how he and the cast/crew were going to drink until the next day in celebration of their wins - inspiring memes across the internet.

The film’s likability went relatively unrecognized until Oscars night, and critics of the Oscars are saying that Parasite's sweep on that night momentarily brought Hollywood together and that the show would’ve been a bust if the film hadn’t succeeded as it did. Out of its six nominations, Parasite won four of them, which is more than any of the other films, with 1917 and Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood winning three awards each. Parasite’s win was relatively unexpected as 1917 dominated at the Golden Globes and Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood had an early winning streak too. However, many fans online are raving about Parasite and are very pleased that a revolutionary film won. Parasite’s commentary on the class divide and the blissful ignorance of the rich and famous made it a fan favorite and helped in its pristine 99 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, which it has upheld since its release in 2019.

Parasite’s plot resonated with fans because it symbolizes how naïve the rich are to the struggles of the poor. The film follows the destitute Kim family who pretends to be a group of well-educated strangers in order to work for the wealthy Park family, who have no idea that each member of the Kim family is related to each other. Greed and class discrimination are the two major themes of the thriller film that begins as what looks like a light-hearted comedy. The climax of the movie is what turns the film into a “funny” story about a family trying to take over another family’s wealth into a fast-paced, intense thriller that fans say had them on the edge of their seats. 

There have been few criticisms of Parasite winning the highest honor of the night and the celebrities at the awards ceremony who celebrated the film with enthusiasm and joy, like Tom Hanks for example, who led the rallying cry to turn the lights back on when they shut off during Parasite’s acceptance speech for Best Picture. Overall, the Parasite sweep at the 2020 Oscars will go down in history with fans and reviews dubbing it the most historic and unexpected win at the Oscars.

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