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Parasite wins Best Picture and makes Oscar history

The film is the first foreign language film to take home the night’s biggest prize

Ki-jung (Park So-dam) and Ki-woo (Choi Woo-shik) from the film ‘Parasite’ stare intently at their phones Image: Neon/CJ Entertainment via Polygon

Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite won Best Picture at the 92nd Academy Awards, making history as the first foreign-language film to take home the night’s biggest prize, as well as the first South Korean film to receive Academy Award recognition. The award came after Parasite also took home the prizes for Best Original Screenplay, Best International Feature Film, and Best Director.

Parasite has been riding a hot streak ever since premiering at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, where it took home the Palme d’Or in a unanimous decision from the jury. It also won Best Foreign Language Film at the 77th Golden Globes as well as Best Film Not in the English Language and Best Original Screenplay at the 73rd BAFTAs, and became the first non-English film to win the SAG Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture.

Despite nearly universal critical acclaim, the big question for Parasite leading up to the Oscars was whether its status as one of the Best Foreign Language Film nominees would keep it from winning Best Picture. No other dual nominees (Roma; Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) managed to cinch the dual win.

Parasite’s march through awards season, however, has helped further the conversation when it comes to recognizing non-English language films, with Bong using his Golden Globes speech to say, “Once you overcome the one-inch-tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films.”

The movie, which focuses on two families on opposite ends of the economic spectrum who find their lives entangled, has successfully steamrolled that barrier. The tale of how late-stage capitalism ultimately ruins all of us is universal, and every element of the film — from the meticulously constructed sets to the magnificent performances — is absolutely perfect.

Though the lack of any nominations for the cast is still one of the season’s biggest disappointments, the Best Picture win is a huge step for all foreign language films — and, personally, the greatest source of joy I’ve ever known.

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