The thought of a non-English speaking film clinching the Academy’s most prestigious award must’ve surely been an anomaly in the olden times. “A foreign film winning big in our own turf?” critics would probably joke. “Hah, tough luck.” But times have changed. As the mainstream audience slowly warms up to the unique blend of appeal that Asian movies present to the public, so too has the critics’ subjective view of the Asian market. 11 non-English speaking movies have since been nominated for Best Picture, including the likes of Roma and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
None of them, unfortunately, have managed to bring the award home. But the appeal of foreign films seems to have at long last enraptured the Western audience, as for the first time ever, a non-English speaking film has done the impossible:
It has won Best Picture at the awards, in the process making Oscar history.
Parasite Makes History & Wins Oscar, Becoming the First Non-English Speaking Film To Take Home Best Picture
Parasite has been sweeping all the awards this season, and it’s no wonder; Bong Joon-ho’s movie about a lower-income family who intrudes a wealthy household, only to learn a much darker secret, has been lauded by critics and audiences alike, and currently commands a very respectable 99% critics’ approval score on Rotten Tomatoes and 96% on Metacritic.
And as unlikely as it would’ve sounded before Parasite’s worldwide premiere, it has happened: Parasite has successfully become the first non-English speaking film to take home Best Picture at the Oscars.
And to make the feat all the more impressive, Parasite swept the award from the under the noses of its formidable opponents, the likes of which include Joker, Ford v Ferrari, The Irishman, Marriage Story, Little Women, 1917, Once Upon A Time in Hollywood, and Jojo Rabbit.
Apart from being the first film from a South Korean director to win the Best Picture, it’s also the first with a mainly Asian cast. The movie also garnered multiple awards for writer and director Bong during the evening, including Best Screenplay, Best Director, and Best International Feature Film.
The cast was also recognised as a whole, having been awarded the SAG award for Best Performance by an Ensemble Cast in a film.
“I’m ready to drink tonight,” Bong joked on stage.
Notwithstanding the number of outstanding films Bong has created in his equally-outstanding career, the director professed that he didn’t expect the level of fandom Parasite has garnered.
According to The Verge, his collective of fans, known as the “BongHive”, have supported his movie throughout the award show season, and even designed t-shirts and hosted special screenings.
Through it all, Bong maintained that the awards are but a reminder to audiences that international films are important to discover and devour.
He also spoke of all the amazing films out there, just waiting to be found.
“Once you overcome the one-inch tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films,” he said at the Golden Globes after winning the award for best foreign-language film.
Kudos on the win, Director Bong! And truly, kudos for bringing the greatest honour in the film industry to Asia.
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