Oscars 2020: Parasite breaks boundaries, wins big


Ben Dettmer

The 92nd Academy Awards came and went and provided viewers with yet another star-studded celebration of the greatest films from around the world in 2019.

Led by the South Korean film “Parasite,” which took home four Oscars before the ceremony ended, the field was dominated by a number of high-profile releases from the past year that featured both new faces and old names alike. “Parasite,” directed by Bong Joon-Ho (who took home Best Director for his efforts), became the first non-English language film to lead all films in total awards. “Parasite” also became the first South Korean submission to win the award for Best International Feature Film, vaulting Joon-Ho to global stardom while elevating him to hero status in his own home country. During his acceptance speech for his Best Director award, he quoted his self-proclaimed personal hero, fellow director Martin Scorsese, and received a standing ovation from  his esteemed colleague in the middle of his speech as a result, a moment he called surreal after the fact.

Scorsese, a familiar name at the academy awards, was nominated for 10 total Oscars but somehow left empty-handed despite his film, “The Irishman,” being tied with “1917” and “Once Upon a Time In Hollywood” for second among all 2019 films with ten total nominations.

Meanwhile, Sam Mendes’ “1917” won three total awards, second to only “Parasite,” and Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” won two, tied with “Ford v Ferrari” and “Joker” for third place in total awards and joining the aforementioned select group of five films that took home multiple awards.

“Joker,” which somewhat controversially led all films with eleven nominations, was somewhat quiet considering the buzz surrounding it prior to the awards kicking off. Joaquin Phoenix took home the prize for Best Actor for his highly acclaimed performance of Gotham’s arch villain, and the film also won the award for Best Original Score.

The ceremony featured several touching moments throughout, including an emotional Matthew A. Cherry dedicating his award to Kobe Bryant after his film, “Hair Love,” won Best Animated Short Film, the same award that Kobe won in 2018 for writing and directing “Dear Basketball.”

After pacing the ceremony with his four awards and setting a new precedent for success for foreign films,  Bong Joon Ho was the hero of the evening and showed viewers why he’s so beloved and admired by colleagues and fans alike in his authentic and humble acceptance speeches. The esteemed director was visibly grinning and his genuine excitement undoubtedly endeared him to both those in the audience and those watching at home.

Many were surprised after the fact that other nominated films, notably “1917,” which had recently won at the Golden Globes, did not receive the top prize in filmmaking, but it was difficult to argue with the selection given the warm response it seemingly got from the crowd and filmmaking community thereafter.

Another surprise, although noted already, was regarding Martin Scorsese’s “Irishman.” Scorsese was seemingly happy to concede the award to Joon Ho despite the rough night for his own film, which was his third-ever nomination for Best Picture award and the first since “The Wolf of Wall Street” in 2014. It was also his 9th career nomination for Best Director, which he also respectfully lost to Bong Jo Ho, marking his third straight defeat since winning it his first and only time in 2007 for “The Departed.”

The ceremony itself featured no singular host for the second straight year following the withdrawal of Kevin Hart, the host originally planned for 2020. The ceremony was filled with performances from famous musical artists and was opened by a comedy routine featuring Chris Rock and Steve Martin. Eminem, in his first-ever Oscars performance, surprised everyone and came out to play his 2003 hit, “Lose Yourself,” and other musical performances including Justin Timberlake and Queen (with Adam Lambert).

Overall, the ceremony went smoothly and produced many wonderful moments and highlights that should keep avid movie fans and critics excited for 2021. It seems certain that we can count many more appearances from the endearing Bong Joon Ho in the future, and 2020 will live on as the year he broke boundaries and laid out a path for success for filmmakers across the world.