In a milestone win that instantly expanded the Oscars’ horizons, Bong Joon Ho’s masterfully devious class satire “Parasite” became the first non-English language film to win best picture in the 92-year history of the Academy Awards.
“Parasite” took Hollywood’s top prize on Sunday night, along with awards for best director, best international film and best screenplay. In a year dominated by period epics _ “1917,” “Once Upon a Time … In Hollywood,” “The Irishman” _ the film academy instead went overseas, to South Korea, to reward a contemporary and unsettling portrait of social inequality in “Parasite.”
All of the acting winners _ Brad Pitt, Renee Zellweger, Joaquin Phoenix and Laura Dern _ went as expected. While Pitt, notching his first acting Oscar, had regaled audiences with one-liners in the run-up to Sunday, he began his comments on a political note.
Phoenix, long one of Hollywood’s most respected actors, took best actor for his limber but morose Joker. In his acceptance speech, Phoenix spoke deliberately about a host of issues, including sexism and racism in the film industry, ecological disaster and vegetarianism.
Coming on a rare rainy day in Los Angeles, the ceremony was soggy and song-heavy. Some performances, like Eminem’s performance of “Lose Yourself,” were unexpected (and drew a wan response from Scorsese). All of the song nominees performed, including Elton John who won with his longtime songwriting partner Bernie Taupin for their “Rocketman” tune.
Netflix didn’t go home empty handed. Aside from Dern’s win for “Marriage Story,” the streamer’s “American Factory” won best documentary. The film is the first release from Barack and Michelle Obama’s Higher Ground Productions.
Disney’s ABC, which is broadcasting the show live, hoped a widely watched field of nominees _ including the $1 billion-grossing “Joker” _ will help viewership. Last year’s show garnered 29.6 million viewers, a 12% uptick.