The Academy Saves Itself

Every member of the film industry lost their minds tonight out of sheer joy when the impossible happened: Parasite won Best Picture. Granted, there were concerns that the film would lose due to being a foreign language film from South Korea with no actors recognizable in Hollywood and a lack of precursors like the DGA and PGA and BAFTA awards for Best Film or Best Director. However, it whalloped 1917 to take home four wins in total. If anything, after the La La Land and Moonlight race, this is proof that consensus picks and statistics are worthless when there’s a passion pick in the race. 

The signs were there. Every Oscar panel I’ve attended featured Parasite receiving the loudest applause, whoops, and cheers. It’s spread like wildfire across the City of Angels, and with the Academy turning more global than ever as more and more international members join the ranks, Bong Joon-ho’s thriller did what no other foreign language film had done before. This is for Roma; for Amour; for Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon; for every film outside of the United States that cracked the glass ceiling but couldn’t quite shatter it. 

That’s not the only record broken tonight: Bong Joon-ho’s four wins (Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, and International Feature) ties him with legendary mogul Walt Disney for the most Oscar wins in one night. At a night where the Academy seemed to be wrestling with itself by acknowledging its failure to nominate and award anyone beyond white men, the wins for Parasite point to a brighter future. Whereas 1917 would’ve sealed the Academy’s doom to fade into utter irrelevance in a changing global market, Parasite’s victories signal them embracing the future. They saved themselves. 

In other categories, there were no surprises. Joaquin Phoenix won Best Actor for his terrifying and visceral turn in Joker, while Best Actress was won by Renee Zellweger for her heartfelt and transformative performance in Judy. Laura Dern finally took home an Oscar in the Supporting Actress for playing the conniving lawyer of Marriage Story, and Brad Pitt won Supporting Actor  for toying with his charisma and star persona in Once Upon a Time…In Hollywood. 

1917 flailed despite sweeping guild awards, taking home only three prizes for Sound Mixing, Cinematography, and Visual Effects. In hindsight, it’s not surprising. The film’s not unlike a shiny new toy given to a child, except the child quickly gets bored with it and goes back to their favorite stuffed animal (Parasite). Little Women was awarded for its costumes, while Once Upon a Time…In Hollywood’s efforts to revive a lost era led it to win for production design. Bombshell was awarded for its makeup, while both sound editing and film editing went to Ford v Ferrari. Best adapted screenplay went to Jojo Rabbit. In the end, only The Irishman went home as the empty-handed Best Picture nominee. Alas, the Netflix bias persists. 
All in all, not a bad show. Parasite becomes the best Best Picture winner since Moonlight, and together they represent the best of cinema. Centuries from now, when many other movies from their respective years have faded, they’ll still be studied by our great-great grandchildren. Long live Parasite, and long live the Academy.


coleduffy View All →

21, born and raised in Boston. Mamma Mia wine mom personality. Jerry Gogosian of the film world.

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