Parasite Deserved Better from the Academy

By now, one would have to be living under a rock to not have heard about the foreign language film that has become one of the best reviewed movies of 2019 as well as one of the hottest, most talked about topics on social media. Parasite, a South Korean film directed by the well-known Bong Joon-ho, features a story that tackles the issues of social class but does it in the most enticing, entertaining way. This film is unique in almost every aspect, including the completely original story, the beautiful cinematography, and the creative symbolism. This particular movie feels very fresh and clearly resonates with people all over the world.

Every year, as award season rolls around, movie lovers and the general public alike love to predict the nominations, crossing fingers that their personal favorite gets the recognition it deserves. The Academy Award nominations are always the most anticipated because it has come to be known as the most distinguishable event in Hollywood. On Monday, January 13th 2020 the nominations were revealed. Once again, the Academy will face heat for refusing to nominate any female directors after Greta Gerwig, Lulu Wang, and Lorene Scafaria had a remarkable year. Most individual categories were also filled with white actresses and actors, and unfortunately, this is nothing new.

Hopes were high for Parasite as it had previously won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, the highest honor of the night. It won the Golden Globe for “Best Foreign Language Film” as well as the Critics’ Choice Movie Award for “Best Foreign Language Film.” And most recently, the film’s cast snagged the Screen Actors Guild Award for “Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture” and while accepting, they were honored by a standing ovation of Hollywood royalty. But besides the prestigious awards, the film has created a huge fanbase. This is because the film delves into a topic that people from anywhere can relate too: the division of social classes and the greed that comes along with it.

The film received Oscar nominations in the categories of Best Director, Best Foreign Language Film, Best Original Screenplay, Best Production Design, Best Film Editing, and Best Picture, which is the most honorable award of the night and makes it the first South Korean film to be recognized in the category. It is also the 11th time a foreign film that has made it into this category and if it won, it would be the first ever foreign language film to win Best Picture. 

Those nominations seem exciting, except for the fact that not a single actor or actress from the film was recognized for their individual achievements. Parasite features outstanding performances from Choi Woo-shik, Kang Song Ho, Park So-dam, Chang Hye Jin, Lee Jeong-eun and Cho Yeo-jeong. These performances were some of the most critically acclaimed performances of 2019, and the reason the movie functions the way it does. One could argue that the cast acts as one unit and that is why they won’t be recognized individually; however, this was some of the best acting of 2019 and it deserves to be seen as that. The reason the film is such a force is because of the performances. The story feels real, feels genuine because of the stories and feelings the actors and actresses can portray through their words, body language, and emotions.

The Academy has a history of not nominating people of color, and of course, since this is a foreign film, the likelihood of getting more nominations becomes even more rare, but this film was a force that was mainly driven by the director as well as the people in it, and only one out of the two has been recognized. Alexa Jung, a writer for Vulture, made a great point in an article titled “The Oscars? Still so White” where she stated that no Asian actor/actress has ever been nominated for Best Actor/Best Actress and that is because the West still views the Asian person as a technical worker. Hence why Bong Joon Ho will get nominations for his work as a director, but why the cast won’t get nominated at all. 

This isn’t just a problem for Parasite; Awkwafina, who had a standout performance in The Farewell, could not get a Best Actress nomination either. All of this ties into the fact that the Oscars and The Academy itself have proven again and again that there is a clear ingrained mindset, and despite backlash, nothing is going to change. The bias in Hollywood needs to end.