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Will ‘Parasite’ pull a surprise on ‘1917’ at the Oscars?

By: - Columnist
/ 12:25 AM February 09, 2020

Bong Joon-ho. PHOTO BY RUBEN V. NEPALES

LOS ANGELES—Will Bong Joon-ho’s “Parasite” pull an upset best picture win over Sam Mendes’ “1917”? Many signs point to a major victory of the epic war film, but if the South Korean black comedy-thriller springs a surprise, it will mark a number of firsts.

In case the terrific movie about a poor family taking over a wealthy family’s household prevails, it will be the first foreign-language film to win best picture in the Oscars’ 92-year-history.

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Only 10 other foreign-language films got a best picture nod, but not one of them got to take home the night’s most important trophy: “Roma” (Mexico), “Amour” (Austria), “Letters from Iwo Jima” (US), “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” (Taiwan), “Life Is Beautiful” and “Il Postino” (Italy), “Cries and Whispers” and “The Emigrants” (Sweden), “Z” (Algeria) and “Grand Illusion” (France).

If “Parasite” wins the best international feature (formerly foreign-language) race—and it looks like a lock—it will be the first South Korean film to win in this category. The critically acclaimed film also earned directing, original screenplay, editing and production design nods. Those nominations, including for best picture, are all Oscar firsts for a South Korean movie.

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As it is, the tragicomedy has already scored other firsts for a South Korean film, including:

First to win the Palme d’Or at Cannes

First to be nominated for a best picture Oscar

First foreign-language film to win the SAG Awards’ best ensemble prize (that award-giving body’s highest honor)

First to win the Golden Globes’ best foreign-language award

Joaquin Phoenix. PHOTO BY RUBEN V. NEPALES

In the four acting categories, the Oscar winners are predicted to follow the awards season trend, which began in the Golden Globes in January: best actor (Joaquin Phoenix, “Joker”), best actress (Renee Zellweger, “Judy”), best supporting actor (Brad Pitt, “Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood”) and best supporting actress (Laura Dern, “Marriage Story”).

Sam Mendes. PHOTO BY RUBEN V. NEPALES

Sam Mendes (“1917”) is the front-runner in the best director derby, but if Bong Joon-ho triumphs in that category, that will be a stunning win for South Korean cinema.

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Similarly, Quentin Tarantino (“Once Upon a Time…) is predicted to snag best original screenplay, but a win by Bong in that race would truly be an upset.

Quentin Tarantino

Quentin Tarantino. PHOTO BY RUBEN V. NEPALES

The winners will be announced on Sunday (Monday morning, Manila time) in the show at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood by a bevy of talents, which include Gal Gadot, Timothée Chalamet, Keanu Reeves, Jane Fonda, Josh Gad, Tom Hanks, Oscar Isaac, Sandra Oh, Natalie Portman, Chris Rock and Taika Waititi.

Among the other presenters are Mahershala Ali, Olivia Colman, James Corden, Penélope Cruz, Will Ferrell, Salma Hayek, Mindy Kaling, Diane Keaton, Regina King, Shia LaBeouf, Brie Larson, Spike Lee, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Rami Malek, Steve Martin, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ray Romano, Maya Rudolph, Mark Ruffalo, Kelly Marie Tran, Sigourney Weaver, Kristen Wiig and Rebel Wilson.

The performers include Elton John, Idina Menzel and Billie Eilish (who was a big winner in the recent Grammy Awards). Elton, nominated in the best song field with Bernie Taupin, is competing against Filipino-American Robert “Bobby” Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez; Randy Newman; Cynthia Erivo and Joshuah Campbell; Diana Warren; and Randy Newman.

E-mail [email protected] Follow him at ruben nepales (@nepalesruben) | Twitter.

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TAGS: Bong Joon-ho, Oscars, Parasite
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