‘Parasite’ Leads Night of Many Firsts at 92nd Academy Awards

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Published February 12, 2020
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"Parasite" won four Academy Awards, including the coveted best picture award. Photo courtesy of AMPAS

Bong Joon-ho and the cast and crew behind “Parasite,” one of the most talked about films of 2019, led an Academy Award night of many firsts, one which many will not soon forget.

The ceremony began with Brad Pitt being announced as the winner of best supporting actor for his role as stuntman Cliff Booth in Quentin Tarantino’s hit film “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.” This win marks Pitt’s first ever Oscar win for an acting performance, having previously won an Oscar as a producer for “12 Years a Slave.”

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Brad Pitt won for his role as Cliff Booth in “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.” Photo courtesy of AMPAS

Laura Dern won the award for best supporting actress for her role as divorce lawyer Nora Fanshaw in Noah Baumbach’s family drama “Marriage Story.” This makes Dern a first-time winner, after having previously been nominated for Academy Awards for her performances in “Rambling Rose” and “Wild.”

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Laura Dern won best actress for her role as a divorce lawyer in “Marriage Story.” Photo courtesy of AMPAS

Another highlight of the night was Joaquin Phoenix winning his first Academy Award for portraying the iconic titular super-villain in Todd Phillips’ “Joker.” The best actor win did not come as a shock, as Phoenix was highly lauded for his performance by critics and audiences alike, and he had already won numerous awards for his portrayal of the Joker in the months leading up to the Academy Awards.

Phoenix concluded his acceptance speech by recalling some touching words from his late brother River Phoenix, who passed away in 1993.

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Joaquin Phoenix won best actor for his powerful performance as the titular character in “Joker.” Photo courtesy of AMPAS

“When he was 17, my brother wrote this lyric,” Phoenix said. “He said ‘Run to the rescue with love, and peace will follow.”

Renee Zellweger rounded out the winners in acting, being awarded best actress for her portrayal of Judy Garland in Rupert Goold’s biopic “Judy,” marking her second Oscar win.

The first-time wins did not stop at the performances, however. Native New Zealand filmmaker Taika Waititi won his first Academy Award, winning best adapted screenplay for his film “Jojo Rabbit.”

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Taika Waititi won best adapted screenplay for his work on “Jojo Rabbit.” Photo courtesy of AMPAS

Sam Mendes’ WWI epic “1917” won big on Sunday night, picking up three awards for cinematography, sound mixing and visual effects. “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” won for production design in addition to Pitt’s win, while “Ford v Ferrari” picked up wins for sound editing and film editing.

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“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” won two awards for best supporting actor and best production design. Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures Releasing

Elton John and Bernie Taupin won best original song for “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again” from the biopic “Rocketman,” and “Joker” score composer Hildur Guðnadottir took home the award for best original score, making it her first ever Academy Award and making her only the fourth woman to win in the category.

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“Joker” won two awards for best actor and best original score. Photo courtesy of Warner Bros Pictures

The big winner of the night turned out to be “Parasite.” The hit South Korean film expectedly won the category of best international feature film, while Joon-ho won the coveted best director Oscar and the award for best original screenplay, alongside Han Jin-won.

In the final award announcement of the night, presenter Jane Fonda and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences treated viewers of the ceremony to a historic moment in film history as they awarded “Parasite” the Oscar for best picture. The crowd erupted in applause at the announcement, as “Parasite” became the first ever foreign language film to win the top prize in the history of the Academy Awards.

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“Parasite” was highly acclaimed upon its release and is regarded by many critics as the best film of 2019. Photo courtesy of CJ Entertainment

This year’s Academy Awards ceremony saw many firsts, making history and becoming one of the most memorable editions of the Oscars.

“Parasite” producer Kwak Sin-ae spoke about the importance of the win during her acceptance speech.

“I feel like a very opportune moment in history is happening right now,” Sin-ae said.

Sin-ae is right. “Parasite” accomplished something that has never been done before. A door has been opened, and hopefully we will soon see more international films and filmmakers come through and make their names known.

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