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(News Focus) Can 'Parasite' hoist an Oscar statuette?

Movies 15:31 December 26, 2019

By Kim Boram

SEOUL, Dec. 26 (Yonhap) -- For most Koreans, the U.S. winter awards season in the run-up to the Academy Awards in February has been an issue of another world. No South Korean film, director or actor has been the talk of the prestigious accolades given to the year's best films displaying excellence in cinematic achievements.

This year, however, recent awards chatter in U.S. film circles shows South Koreans deserve to enjoy the Oscar prognostication game.

A scene from "Parasite" by CJ Entertainment (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

Bong Joon-ho's family thriller "Parasite" has been piling up accolades from local film critics associations and contending in this year's Oscar race in about four categories.

Last week, the film made the shortlist of 10 movies for best international feature film, previously known as best foreign-language film, at the Academy Awards scheduled for Feb. 9, 2020, along with "Pain and Glory" by Pedro Almodovar from Spain and "Les Miserables" by Ladj Ly from France.

"Parasite" was also included in the 15-film shortlist of the original song category for "A Glass of Soju."

It is regarded as the front-runner in the best international feature film category and expected to make the five-film final nominations to be announced on Jan. 13.

In that case, it would be the first South Korean film to be nominated for an Oscar award, as no South Korean film has made the cut at the Oscars despite its yearslong boom and international successes.

"I think prospects are very bright, considering tones and moods in U.S. media," film critic Yoon Sung-eun said. "But the winners are determined by votes of Academy members. We have to wait until the award-giving day."

South Korean director Bong Joon-ho (L) and actor Song Kang-ho (R) show off the Palme d'Or award during a meeting with reporters at Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul, on May 27, 2019, upon returning home from Cannes, France. (Yonhap)

Moreover, she said the real question is how many other Oscars it can win as it has also emerged as a candidate for best picture, best director and best screenplay. Bong's seventh feature film that makes a rich-versus-poor comparison through two extreme families has received widespread critical acclaim for his direction, screenplay, cinematography and production design.

At the upcoming 77th Golden Globes Awards on Jan. 5, chosen by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the film received three nods for best director, best screenplay and best foreign language film, making it the first Korean film to achieve that feat.

The Palme d'Or winner of this year's Cannes also earned numerous trophies at the annual awards of various U.S. film critic societies, including best picture and best director from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and best picture and best director from the Chicago Film Critics Association.

"Parasite" also brings commercial credentials to the process, having earned more than US$20 million in the U.S. since it hit local screens in October and become the highest grossing non-English language film in 2019.

But the expert noted that winning the Oscar's renowned best picture award will be a long shot as a foreign-language film.

So far, only nine subtitled films have been nominated for the best picture section, including Lee Ang's "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" (2000) and Alfonso Cuaron's "Roma" (2018), with none winning.

Last season, "Roma," the winner of best foreign-language film, seemed poised to win the best film award after earning 10 nominations, but "Green Book" took the honor. Instead, Cuaron's Spanish-language film clinched the best director trophy.

"'Parasite' will likely make it to the final five for best picture, best director and best screenplay as well as best international feature film," Yoon, the film critic, said. "I think 'Parasite' can take one or two Oscar awards other than best international feature film."

A poster of "Parasite" provided by CJ Entertainment (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

brk@yna.co.kr
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