East Penn Press

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Oscar contest: ‘Parasite’ found

Friday, February 21, 2020 by PAUL WILLISTEIN pwillistein@tnonline.com in Focus

Movies with twist endings are among the best.

The 92nd Academy Awards also provided a twist ending.

Although none of the dozens who entered the annual Lehigh Valley Press Focus section “Readers Pick the Oscar Winners” contest correctly picked all the winners in the contest’s seven categories, Mary Hoffman of Emmaus correctly picked six of the seven Oscar winners in the contest categories.

The 2020 Oscars surprised the pundits.

In the Best Picture Category, director Bong Joon Ho’s “Parasite” topped fellow nominees and their films: Martin Scorsese, “The Irishman”; Noah Baumbach, “Marriage Story”; Todd Phillips, “Joker”; Quentin Tarantino, “Once Upon a Time in ... Hollywood”; Sam Mendes, “1917”; James Mangold, “Ford v Ferrari”; Taika Waititi, “Jojo Rabbit,” and Greta Gerwig, “Little Women.”

Variety, the show business trade publication, called the “Parasite” Best Picture win “a stunning upset.”

Bong Joon Ho, director of “Parasite,” was the big winner at the 2020 Oscars, winning for Best Picture, Best International Film, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay (shared with co-screenplay writer Jin Won Han).

“Parasite” made cinema history.

After winning the Palme d’Or at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, “Parasite” became the first foreign-language film to win the Screen Actors Guild Ensemble Award.

That should have been a sign for Oscar-watchers.

“Parasite” is the first Korean film to win Oscars for Best International Film, Best Picture (as well as first foreign-language film), Best Original Screenplay Oscar (as well as first Asian film) and Best Director.

The 92nd Oscars was a “Once Upon a Time in ... Hollywood” story or more accurately, “Once Upon a Time in ... South Korea.”

The South Korean movie business takes its place alongside other international entertainment phenomena, including South Korea’s K-pop, as in Korean pop music.

Psy’s “Gangnam Style” music video became the first YouTube video to reach one billion views. BTS became the first K-pop group to hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200.

One wonders what geo-political effect, if any, the “Parasite” Oscar wins might have beyond the Hollywood dream factory.

The last time the Korean peninsula made such news in Hollywood was when North Korean hackers allegedly leaked data from Sony Pictures after the studio released “The Interview” (2014), codirected by Seth Rogen.

The Guardians of Peace hackers released confidential data from Sony and demanded that the studio withdraw theatrical distribution of “The Interview,” a dark-comedy about a plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

The hackers threatened terrorist attacks at cinemas screening the film. After United States theater chains, including AMC Theatres, declined to screen “The Interview,” Sony canceled the film’s release.

The four Oscars won by “Parasite,” a comedy-drama reviewed favorably in a Focus movie review (Use the search window on the Focus page of TheLehighValleyPress.com website to read the Nov. 15, 2019, “Parasite” movie review.) and on many movie critics’ Top 10 movie lists for 2019, took Academy Awards pundits by surprise, including yours truly.

Quite a few who entered the Lehigh Valley Press Focus “Readers Pick the Oscar Winners” contest correctly picked five winners of the seven categories.

I also correctly picked five of the winners in the seven categories, including Joaquin Phoenix, Best Actor, “Joker”; Renée Zellweger, Best Actress, “Judy”; Brad Pitt, Supporting Actor, “Once Upon A Time In ... Hollywood”; Laura Dern, Supporting Actress, “Marriage Story,” and “Toy Story 4,” Best Animated Feature.

The acting Oscar categories were predictable. The Animated Feature category was not as predictable.

The director and picture categories, as it turns out, were unpredictable.

I incorrectly picked Sam Mendes, Best Director, “1917,” and “1917,” Best Picture.

When predicting the Oscar winners, I try to pick who and what has the best odds to win. No hedging with coulda, woulda, shoulda for me.

My reasoning in the director and picture categories was that the 7,000-plus members of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences would not vote for a subtitled film in the Korean language about a South Korean family of impoverished criminal grifters who terrorize a wealthy South Korean family.

The 92nd Academy Awards provided a Hollywood ending that few could have scripted.

If “Parasite” was the big winner, there were many big losers at the 2020 Oscars ceremony Feb. 9 in Los Angeles, telecast on ABC-TV.

“Joker,” which led nominations with 11, only received two Oscars: Best Actor: Joaquin Phoenix, and Original Score: Hildur Guðnadóttir.

“The Irishman,” with 10 nominations, received no Oscars.

“Once Upon A Time in ... Hollywood, with 10 nominations, received two Oscars: Supporting Actor (Brad Pitt), Production Design.

“1917,” also with 10 nominations, received three Oscars: Visual Effects, Cinematography (Roger Deakins), Sound Mixing.

“Parasite,” with six Oscar nominations, received four Oscars.

“Jojo Rabbit,” with six Oscar nominations, received one Oscar: Adapted Screenplay (Taika Waititi).

“Marriage Story,” with six Oscar nominations, received one Oscar: Supporting Actress (Laura Dern).

“Little Women,” with six Oscar nominations, received one Oscar: Costume Design.

“Ford v Ferrari” with four Oscar nominations, received two Oscars: Film Editing, Sound Editing.

“Bombshell,” with three Oscar nominations, received one Oscar: Makeup and Hairstyling.

For those still stuck at the Oscars SnubHub, take solace in the 2020 Independent Spirit Awards, presented Feb. 8 in Santa Monica, telecast on IFC, with the following Spirit Award recipients:

“Uncut Gems”: Male Lead (Adam Sandler), Director (Benny Safdie, Josh Safdie), Editing (Ronald Bronstein, Benny Safdie)

“Marriage Story”: Screenplay (its director Noah Baumbach), Robert Altman Award

“The Lighthouse”: Supporting Male (Willem Dafoe), Cinematography (Jarin Blaschke)

“The Farewell”: Feature, Supporting Female (Zhao Shuzhen)