Oscars 2020: Parasite steals the show as Academy Awards honour international filmmakers

‘Parasite’ ended up sweeping the Oscars in what was otherwise a relatively uneventful ceremony

Oscars 2020: Parasite wins best picture as first foreign film to do so

Parasite triumphed at this year’s Academy Awards, becoming the first-ever film not in the English language to win Best Picture.

The biggest award of the night was announced at the end of a relatively uneventful ceremony that featured few surprises. As expected, Brad Pitt, Laura Dern and Joaquin Phoenix all won their first-ever acting awards from the Academy, while Renee Zellweger landed an Oscar for the second time in her career.

Receiving the award for Best Director for his film Parasite, Bong Joon-Ho joked: “After winning best international feature I thought I was done for the day and ready to relax."

He thanked Martin Scorsese, whose films he said he had studied at school. The US director then received a standing ovation.

“I will drink until next morning,” Bong announced.

Mendes was widely regarded as a shoo-in to take home the Best Director prize, while 1917 was the frontrunner for Best Picture.

However, Parasite seemed to have the support of the crowd as it picked up awards for Best Original Screenplay and Best International Feature early on in the ceremony.

It took the top prize over 1917, Ford v Ferrari, The Irishman, Joker, Jojo Rabbit, Little Women, Marriage Story, and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

When presenter Jane Fonda announced Parasite had won Best Picture, there was a collective roar around the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, where the event was being held.

The producers described the win as “a very opportune moment in history right now”, and thanked the Academy.

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Korean journalist Jae-Ha Kim tweeted: “You cannot imagine what it was like growing up and having people ask where Korea was, because no one had ever heard of it. Bong Joon-Ho’s wealth of brilliant work has won international acclaim not only for him, but for South Korea. Korean diaspora.”

Other than Parasite, the awards were handed out as predicted. Brad Pitt received Best Supporting Actor for his performance in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

“This is incredible,” the actor said, calling it an “honour of honours”.

“I’m not one to look back but this has made me do so. I think of my folks taking me to the drive in to see Butch and Sundance and loading up my car and moving out, and Geena [Davis] and Ridley [Scott] giving me my first shot to all the wonderful people I’ve met along the way, to stand here now."

Laura Dern picked up Best Supporting Actress for her role in Marriage Story, while Renee Zellweger took home Best Actress (Judy), and Joaquin Phoenix Best Actor (Joker). Hildur Guðnadóttir, who composed the music for Joker, became the fourth woman and first Icelandic person to win the Oscar for Best Original Score.

Phoenix’s speech was arguably the most affecting of the night. He addressed issues of inequality and the climate crisis before making a rare public mention of his late brother, River.

“I’m full of so much gratitude right now,” he began. “I do not feel elevated above any of my fellow nominees because we share the same love – the love of film. This form of expression has given me the most extraordinary life. I don’t know what I would be without it.”

He continued: “The greatest gift it’s given me is the opportunity to use your voice for the voiceless. I’ve been thinking a lot about some of the frustrating issues that we are facing collectively and at times we feel or are made to feel that we champion different causes, but for me I see commonality.

“I think whether we’re talking about gender and inequality or racism or queer rights or indigenous rights or animal rights – we’re talking about the fight against injustice.”

“We go into the natural world and we plunder it for its resources – we feel entitled to artificially inseminate a cow, and when she gives birth, we steal her baby even though her cries of anguish are unmistakable.”

“When he was 17, my brother wrote this lyric,” he concluded. “He said, ‘Run to the rescue with love—and peace will follow’.”

There were also a number of live performances on the night, including a surprise appearance from Eminem, who performed his Oscar-winning track “Lose Yourself”, from the film 8 Mile.

Elton John, who won 2020’s Best Original Song with Bernie Taupin, performed “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again” from the film Rocketman, about John’s life and career.

Meanwhile, Billie Eilish and her brother Finneas O’Connell performed a stark, emotional version of The Beatles’ “Yesterday” for the In-Memoriam segment of the evening.

The ceremony went without a host for the second consecutive year, but included memorable presenting skits from actors and comedians including Maya Rudolph and Kristin Wiig, Chris Rock and Steve Martin, and James Corden and Rebel Wilson.

Rock and Martin took aim at Amazon boss Jeff Bezos, who looked rather uncomfortable in his seat, while Wiig and Rudolph amused the audience by using their presenting slot as an audition to the many revered directors in the room.

Sandra Oh, who co-presented the award for Best Makeup and Hair with Ray Romano, tweeted after the ceremony that she was “so so proud to be Korean” after Parasite’s win.

See the full list of Oscar winners here.

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