Parasite ended its award show sweep this season by taking home Best Picture, making it the first non-English speaking film to win the Academy’s most prestigious award.
Bong Joon-ho’s movie about a lower-income family who infiltrates a wealthy household, only to learn a much darker secret, has led the awards season. The movie scored multiple awards for writer and director Bong during the evening including Best Screenplay, Best Director, and Best International Feature Film. Although the cast wasn’t recognized individually, they were awarded the SAG award for Best Performance by an Ensemble Cast in a film.
Parasite is also the first film from a South Korean director to win the Best Picture, and the first with a primarily Asian cast. Parasite beat out Joker, Ford v 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 speaking movies were previously nominated for Best Picture, including including Roma, Amour, Babel, and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Roma was also the first non-English speaking film from a streamer to earn the top nomination. Although it lost in that category, it did win in the Best Foreign Film category, which has since been renamed to Best International Feature Film.
It’s been a wild ride for Bong, who has reiterated in multiple interviews that he didn’t expect the level of fandom around Parasite that has sprouted up. His collective of fans — referred to as the “BongHive” — have championed his movie throughout the award show season, designing t-shirts and hosting special screenings. For Bong, the awards are a reminder to audiences that international films are important to discover and devour.
“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.
Parasite made Oscar history tonight with its win, but if Bong Joon-ho gets what he wants, it’ll be the first of many non-English speaking films to earn the Academy’s biggest prize.
By Julia Alexander