Parasite ended its award ceremony this season by taking Best Picture home, making it the first non-English-language film to win the Academy’s most prestigious prize.
The Bong Joon-ho film about a lower-income family infiltrating a rich household just to get to know a much darker secret has led the price season. The film scored several prizes for writer and director Bong in the evening, including Best Screenplay, Best Director and Best International Feature Film. Although the cast was not recognized individually, they received the SAG prize for best performance of an ensemble cast in a film.
Parasite is also the first film by a South Korean director who won the best photo, and the first with a predominantly Asian cast. Parasite beat out Joker, Ford of Ferrari, The Irishman, Marriage Story, Little Women, 1917, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, and Jojo Rabbit in the process.
“I’m ready to drink tonight,” he joked on stage.
Only 11 other non-English-language films were previously nominated for Best image, including inclusive Roma, Amour, Babel, and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Roma was also the first non-English-language film by a streamer who won the best nomination. Although it lost in that category, it did win in the Best Foreign Film category, which has since been renamed Best International Feature Film.
It was a wild ride for Bong, who has repeated in several interviews that he did not expect the level of fandom around Parasite that’s shot. His collective of fans – referred to as the “BongHive” – defended his film during the award show season by designing t-shirts and organizing special screenings. For Bong, the prizes remind the public that international films are important to discover and devour.
“Once you have overcome the barrier of an inch-long subtitle, you will be introduced to so many more great films,” he said at the Golden Globes after winning the prize for the best film in a foreign language.
Parasite has written a history tonight with the victory, but if Bong Joon-ho gets what he wants, it’s the first of many non-English-language films to earn the Academy’s biggest prize.