We are just hours away from seeing this year’s Oscars race come to an end and it has boiled down to two of 2019’s most talked about front runners to bring their campaigns to a glorious finish today, February 9, at the most anticipated awards show in the world.
Sam Mendes’ World War I epic 1917, by metrics known to Hollywood is a shoo-in for the Best Picture award, but Bong Joon Ho’s biting, genre-twisting tragicomedy Parasite has an undeniable momentum that could very well lead the film into a well-deserved, historic win.
It was at the tail-end of January when the South Korean film surprised the Screen Actors Guild awards, when they took home the biggest award of the night, Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture–a first for a foreign film and only the second one to ever be nominated in the category, next to Roberto Benigni’s Life is Beautiful back in 1997. This win is said to be an impressive precursor that could later on inspire an Oscars win.
However, on the other end of the spectrum, it cannot be discounted that Mendes’ technical masterpiece, 1917, has also gained a good footing towards tonight’s awards show. The war epic is still fresh off its recent big wins from the Producers Guild of America, Directors Guild of America, and the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, These, like the SAG awards are good, solid precursors to back a Best Picture push for the film.
Parasite began reaping international acclaim after it took home the Palme d’Or at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, collecting unanimous votes rarely seen in festival. It was also the first South Korean film to claim the Best Foreign Language Film at the Golden Globe Awards, among other major award-giving bodies.
Interestingly, the film’s auteur, Bong Joon Ho took even bigger raves when he was quoted to say that getting Oscars recognition is “no big deal”. He told Vulture, “The Oscars are not an international film festival. They’re very local.”
To date, it was reported that Parasite, a nuanced and meticulously-directed film on the growing class struggle between the rich and the poor told through a plot twist-heavy narrative, has already collected a total of 150 awards. Whether or not, the film wins Best Picture, it is almost written in stone that it would take home the Best International Feature Film, besting another favorite in the category, Pain & Glory from Spain.
But more than the accolades, the film’s blockbuster success not just in South Korea but on the global box-office has long made a statement. The film, in its honesty and sincerity in depicting class divide and power struggle has immensely gained not just universal praise but resonance among viewers. It was reported that the film has already amassed global earnings of $165,362,304 while still being shown in cinemas across the globe.
Parasite is set to go head to head with 1917 and seven other nominees for the Best Picture plum this year–an impressive collection of diverse titles from Netflix entries, to Quentin Tarantino, to much-talked about comic book villains, down to a children’s book classic. The film is also up for five other nominations including a Best Director nod for Bong.
But if there’s anything that we’ve learned from the Academy Awards is that you’ll never know who takes home any award until the envelope has been opened and the names properly called out (case in point, last year’s unexpected win for Green Book), and in some peculiar cases, even after the winner has been called (don’t forget the Steve Harvey moment between Moonlight and the highly-favored La La Land in 2017 ).
Catch the 2020 Academy Awards on February 9, 2020 (February 10, Manila).