“They did something extraordinary for the first time this year. They actually went with a Best Picture that was international,” says Gold Derby editor-in-chief Tom O’Neil about South Korea’s “Parasite” winning Best Picture at the Oscars in an upset against “1917.” That made it the first film not in the English language ever to win the top prize from the academy, so he discussed that feat with fellow editors Chris Beachum, Marcus James Dixon, Joyce Eng, Zach Laws, Daniel Montgomery, Paul Sheehan and Susan Wloszczyna. Watch their morning-after Oscars smackdown above.
The Oscar season got off to a rough start with nominations that included no women for Best Director and only one person of color recognized for acting (“Harriet” star Cynthia Erivo for Best Actress). So with the academy still largely white and male despite the membership growing and evolving in recent years, how did a subtitled movie from East Asia manage to win? Perhaps the same way a little British comedy won the hearts of TV awards voters over the last year.
“It’s the ‘Fleabag’ of the Oscars,” Eng theorizes about the film’s strong rooting factor; she was one of the Experts who actually predicted its victory. “Bong [Joon Ho] is basically Phoebe [Waller-Bridge] … In the end it’s passion prevailing for both ‘Fleabag’ and ‘Parasite.’ If they love you, they really love you.” And it was likely helped by the preferential ballot, which benefits consensus choices over more divisive films; most of the other nominees for Best Picture, including “1917,” had detractors, but “Parasite” really didn’t.
“They’re woke now! That’s what somebody told me about the academy. They’re finally woke after 92 years,” says Dixon. But Montgomery wouldn’t necessarily go that far, remembering that two years after the Oscars picked the progressive “Moonlight” they gave Best Picture to the old-fashioned race relations parable “Green Book.” “It’s a really weird time for the academy,” adds Eng. “They’re obviously trying to be more inclusive … so I think we’re just going to have some of that back and forth” between forward-thinking winners and more regressive, comfortable choices. “It’s progress, but it’s not like we solved racism, misogyny and sexism or anything.”
What did you think of “Parasite’s” Oscar upset? Is this truly the dawn of a new academy, or will the awards go back to the same-old-same-old this time next year?
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