Parasite makes history at the Oscars

A record breaking night at the Academy Awards

by Jennie Kermode

The Parasite team: Song Kang Ho, Lee Sun Gyun, Cho Yeo Jeong, Park So Dam, Bong Joon Ho and Park Myung Hoon
The Parasite team: Song Kang Ho, Lee Sun Gyun, Cho Yeo Jeong, Park So Dam, Bong Joon Ho and Park Myung Hoon Photo: Robert Gladden / ©A.M.P.A.S.

Bong Joon-ho's Parasite made history tonight by becoming the first Korean film ever to win Best Picture, also taking Best Director and Best International Feature Film and becoming the first non-English language film to win Best Original Screenplay for 17 years. Bong, who turned up with the rest of his cast and crew just looking to party was thrilled to win for his writing, was overwhelmed by the film's success and said that he expected he would keep on drinking well into the next day. "I'm just a very strange person. I just did what I've always done with great artists, with producer Kwak and my cowriter Han Jin Won and with all my actors. It was the same process making this film, but we've had these amazing results. It still feels very surreal. I feel like something will hit me and I will wake up from this dream." He expressed his desire to take a Texas chainsaw and cut his directing award into pieces so that he could share it with his fellow nominees, notably Martin Scorsese, whom he thanked for inspiring him when he was in film school. He led a standing ovation for the Irishman director and nine times Best Director nominee, who looked every bit as delighted as if he had won himself.

Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig
Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig Photo: Robert Gladden / ©A.M.P.A.S.

The award for Best Actor went to Joaquin Phoenix for his work in Joker. Phoenix took the opportunity to apologise or his own sometimes volatile personality and speak at length about the cuses he is passionate about: environmentalism, diversity and vegetarianism. He also paid tribute to his brother.

Winning Best Actress for Judy, Renée Zellweger said "My immigrant folks who came here with nothing but each other and a belief in the American dream – how about this?" She had been favourite to win but looked as if the reality of it was only just sinking in.

Brad Pitt won the first award of the night - Best Supporting Actor for Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood. "They told me I only have 45 seconds up here, which is 45 seconds more than the Senate gave John Bolton this week," he remarked to the audience "I'm thinking maybe Quentin does a movie about it. In the end, the adults do the right thing." Although it's the first time he has won an Oscar for his acting, he previously won as a producer with 12 Years A Slave.

Billy Porter on the red carpet
Billy Porter on the red carpet Photo: Nick Agro / ©A.M.P.A.S.

Receiving the award for Best Adapted Screenplay for Jojo Rabbit, Taika Waititi thanked his mum for giving him the book, without which it would never have been made. "I dedicate this to all the indigenous kids who live in the world who want to do art and dance and write stories," he added. "We are the original storytellers and we can make it here as well."

Hildur Gudnadóttir became the first woman to win Best Original Score for 22 years, for her work on Joker. "To the girls, to the women, to the mothers, to the daughters, who hear the music bubbling within, please speak up," she said. "We need to hear your voices."

Toy Story 4 also scored quite an achievement by becoming only the second sequel in history to win Best Animated film - the previous one being Toy Story 3. It made animator Jonas Rivera the first US-born Latinx person to win multiple Oscars. "I'm a little bit out of my body right now. It means the world to me. I can't even really put it into words, to be honest with you. I'm so proud of this thing and working with these guys, but to have that added on top is just sort of cements it," he said, speaking backstage.

One of the first to arrive on the red carpet was Billy Porter, who was participating in this year's pre-show. His feathered gold top and voluminous copper-coloured skirt, designed by Giles Deacon, set the tone for what was a particularly glamorous event, but things almost went very differently. It was raining heavily in Los Angeles and the polythene tent over the red carpet felt the strain. It sprang leaks in several places and the fire department had to check it to make sure it wouldn't collapse on the stars. As staff tried to figure out how to protect the $44m event, a red carpet-covered bin was set up to catch some of the drips.

Waad Al-Kateab, Hamza Al-Kateab and Sama Al-Kateab
Waad Al-Kateab, Hamza Al-Kateab and Sama Al-Kateab Photo: Nick Agro / ©A.M.P.A.S.

Joker's Zazie Beetz arrived in a slimline Thom Browne corset dress covered in black sequins, while Lily Aldridge kept it simple in a vintage white Ralph Lauren gown. Dakota Fanning's scarlet dress may have clashed with the carpet but it still looked stunning. Waad Al-Kateab had a silk dress embroidered with Arabic calligraphy which says 'we dared to dream', and has brought along her little daughter Sama, for whom she made her documentary - a kid who should be getting used to red carpets by now but still looked a little starstruck. At just four years of age, she's believed to have been the youngest ever Oscars attendee.

Speaking on a dry spot on the red carpet, the legendary Roger Deakins, who went on to win Best Cinematography (for the second time, after 13 unsuccessful nominations) as a result of his work on 1917, commented that film was too different to bear easy comparison with Parasite but that Bong's film would be a deserving winner. When he received his award he said that it also belonged to his wife James, who worked on 1917 with him, and to Andy Harris, whom he called "the pinball wizard of focus pulling... you’ll never know what he does, because he only notices it when he makes a mistake and he never does."

Laura Dern, who went on to win Best Supporting Actress for her work in Marriage Story, arrived wearing a white dress with a black beaded fringe, accompanied by her mother Diane Ladd in a black suit and white blouse. The two previously attended the Oscars together when they both received acting nominations for Rambling Rose back in 1992. Dern put her return down to the quality of Noah Baumbach's writing. He arrived with Greta Gerwig, who looked resplendent in an olive green gown and attracted loud cries of support from fans who felt that she deserved a Best Director nomination for Little Women. Only five women have ever been nominated in that category. Natalie Portman embroidered her Dior cape with the names of women she felt deserved nominations: Scafaria, Wang, Gerwig, Har’el, Diop, Sciamma, Heller, Matsoukas.

Roman Griffin Davis and Archie Yates arrive on the red carpet.
Roman Griffin Davis and Archie Yates arrive on the red carpet. Photo: Robert Gladden / ©A.M.P.A.S.

Booksmart's Beanie Feldstein also rocked the black and white look, apologising to photographers because her shimmering white ballgown, embroidered with black roses, took a while to arrange when she was asked to pose. Hailee Steinfeld, meanwhile, captured that iconic Oscar princess look in a white lace dress embroidered with flowers, and Penelope Cruz wore an elegant black gown with that much-coveted accessory, pockets. Sandy Powell, who designed the costumes for The Irishman (the evening's big loser), wore a jacket covered with autographs collected from other awards ceremonies this year, including one to which Boon Jong-ho had added a self portrait in marker pen.

The ceremony tool place at the Dolby Theatre, at Hollywood & Highland Center in Hollywood, where the presenters included Tom Hanks, Oscar Isaac, Sandra Oh, Natalie Portman, Jane Fonda and Taika Waititi.

Those awards in full:-

Best Picture

Best Director

Best Actress in a Leading Role

  • Renée Zellweger, Judy

Best Actor in a Leading Role

Best Actress in a Supporting Role

Best Actor in a Supporting Role

Best Animated Feature Film

Best International Feature Film

Best Documentary Feature

Best Original Screenplay

Best Adapted Screenplay

Best Live Action Short Film

Best Animated Short Film

Best Documentary Short Subject

Best Film Editing

Best Cinematography

Best Production Design

Best Visual Effects

Best Costume Design

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Best Sound Editing

Best Sound Mixing

Best Original Score

Best Original Song

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