“Parasite” just won the Screen Actors Guild Award for best cast, a telling precursor that often lines up with Best Picture at the Oscars (just ask “Spotlight,” “Birdman,” “Argo,” etc.) However, Bong Joon Ho‘s South Korean crowd-pleaser has an extra Oscar hurdle that none of those champs ever had to jump: Best International Feature Film. Once known as Best Foreign Language Film, this category may prove to be the bane of “Parasite’s” existence. Why? Because voters looking to spread the wealth may think to themselves, “I’m voting for ‘Parasite’ here, which allows me to vote for something else for Best Picture.”
The writing is already on the wall, folks. In four of the biggest precursors leading up to the Oscars (Golden Globes, Critics’ Choice, Producers Guild, Screen Actors Guild), “Parasite” lost major prizes at the ones that have a Best International Film category. Uh-oh — is “Parasite” doomed at the 2020 Oscars?
As a refresher, “1917” prevailed at the Golden Globes (Best Drama Film) and PGA (Best Picture) while “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” proved victorious at the Golden Globes (Best Comedy Film) and Critics’ Choice (Best Picture). “Parasite” was not eligible for the Globes’ top picture kudos, but voters could have shown their love by awarding it for director and/or screenplay; they didn’t. The only one of these big four trophies that “Parasite” took home was the SAG Award, which also happens to be the only one that didn’t have a special award for foreign films. If it did, would “Parasite” have simply won that, and something else claimed the main ensemble trophy?
The “everybody gets an Oscar” mindset has really taken over the Academy Awards in the modern era. Gone are the days of movies like “Ben-Hur” (1959), “Titanic” (1997) and “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” (2003) sweeping with 11 Academy Awards. In fact, four to six Oscars seems to be the new normal, like with recent ceremony leaders “Bohemian Rhapsody” (four wins in 2018), “The Shape of Water” (four in 2017), “La La Land” (six in 2016), “Mad Max: Fury Road” (six in 2015) and “Birdman” & “The Grand Budapest Hotel” (four each in 2014).
“Parasite” winning Best International Film on February 9 is one of the so-called “locks” of the year, according to Gold Derby’s Oscar odds. But for the 8,469 voters of the Academy Awards, will enough of them feel the need to also give “Parasite” the Best Picture prize instead of spreading the wealth to other worthy contenders? Precursor voters have already weighed in on this topic, to which they said, emphatically, no.
Don’t forget, the top category is determined by a preferential ballot, which means voters rank their choices for Best Picture. “Parasite” fans can still feel like they’re awarding the movie by ranking it high on their list, even if they give their top spots to something else. Perhaps that’s what turned out to be the death knell for “Roma” last year. Many awards pundits thought Alfonso Cuaron‘s Mexican art film would win Best Picture, but voters apparently didn’t feel the need to give it the major Oscar after they marked it down for the foreign film award (it also won director and cinematography).
No international film has ever won the Oscar for Best Picture, so “Parasite” is hoping to make history next month. Can it pull off the upset? It’s certainly the coolest, most talked-about film of the year with a rooting factor like none other. It’s Film Twitter’s official passion project. And it’s the most diverse film nominated in the top category, which of course would help alleviate any #OscarsSoWhite stories again this year. With Bong Joon Ho being in the conversation to also win Best Director, we must take it seriously. The question is, will Oscar voters?
Be sure to make your Oscar winner predictions today so that Hollywood insiders can see how their films and performers are faring in our odds. You can keep changing your predictions as often as you like until just before the ceremony on February 9. And join in the thrilling debate over the 2020 Academy Awards taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our film forums. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.