Oscars goes Parasite
Oh, the Oscars! A sigh of exasperation became prominent among worldwide cine lovers, who hail the Academy Awards as the ultimate pedestal of World Cinema. The 92nd Academy Awards was a big disappointment, right from the word go when they announced the all-white nominees. Hatred has become the new norms of the world.
Every single award ceremony in the world is rigged – be it the Nobel Prize or the Oscars or the plethora of awards’ ceremonies around the world in various sectors and fields. This year’s Oscars were criticized by one and all for the lack of diversity and absence of female filmmakers from the nominees’ list, in spite of some outstanding performances and directions by filmmakers of colour.
South Korean film ‘Parasite’ became the first foreign language film to win the ‘Best Picture’ Academy Award to enter into the history books of the Oscars. Bong Joon Ho won the ‘Best Director’ Academy Award for ‘Parasite’ to beat the likes of Hollywood greats like Sam Mendes for ‘1917’, Quentin Tarantino for ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’, Martin Scorsese for ‘The Irishman’ and Todd Phillips for ‘Joker’.
‘Parasite’ also won two more Academy Awards in the ‘Best International Film’ and the ‘Best Original Screenplay’ categories. Bong Joon Ho, the cast and the crew of ‘Parasite’ went home ecstatic with four Academy Awards. They are surely going to receive a tumultuous reception when they will land in their country.
Bong Joon Ho’s ‘Parasite’ captured masterfully the devious class satire to paint an unsettling portrait of social inequality in South Korea. In the 92-year-old history of Academy Awards, this is the first time that a foreign language film has won the ‘Best Picture’ category competing with the mainstream Hollywood movies. In the past, foreign language films were awarded the ‘Best Foreign Language Film’ Academy Awards.
Bong Joon Ho was given a standing ovation by the Hollywood crowd, when he collected his first Oscar for the ‘Best Picture’ Academy Award. Overcoming his joyous emotions, Bong Joon Ho exclaimed, “I am ready to drink tonight.” Content for winning his first Academy Awards, Bong Joon Ho was surprised to be called to win the ‘Best Director’ award. With a touch of humility, he saluted fellow nominees and declared, “Now, I am ready to drink till tomorrow.”
Bong Joon Ho also happens to be the first South Korean director to win the Palme d’Or for ‘Parasite’ at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival. He also became the first Asian filmmaker to win three Academy Awards for ‘Best Picture’, ‘Best Director’ and ‘Best Screenplay’ for his masterpiece ‘Parasite’. Bong Joon Ho joins the great Asian filmmakers like Akira Kurosawa, Ang Lee and Hiroshi Teshigahara, who were nominated for the Academy Award for ‘Best Director’.
One really wonders how low the Oscars would go to deride the female co-workers of the industry. As if it was not enough to snub outstanding female filmmakers for not nominating them, the Academy Awards’ organizers should be ashamed for reminding female filmmakers through their former hosts Steve Martin and Chris Rock, who opened the monologue.
It was a cringe moment for the audience, when Steve Martin reminded that something was missing from this year’s ‘Best Director’ nominees saying, “An incredible demotion.” Chris Rock was quick to respond, “Vaginas!” The two males may describe their act and words as ‘satire’, but in reality, it was really derogatory for the female filmmakers.
Vocal and Outright: Natalie Portman
Natalie Portman has always been critical and open about under-representation of female filmmakers in the Academy Awards’ history. She was creative in showcasing her displeasure. Natalie Portman wore a custom Dior cape on which she got sewed all the names of female directors, who were snubbed by the Oscars. She was looking resplendent in her attire. In the history of Academy Awards’ 92nd year, for the unscrupulous 87th time, woman filmmakers were not nominated for ‘Best Director’ category this year.
Natalie Portman’s cape read the names of female directors Lorene Scafaria for ‘Hustlers’, Melina Matsoukas for ‘Queen & Slim’, Lulu Wang for ‘The Farewell, Alma Har’el for ‘Honey Boy’, Greta Gerwig for ‘Little Women’, Marielle Heller for ‘A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood’, Celine Sciamma for ‘Portrait of a Lady on Fire’ and Mati Diop for ‘Atlantics’.
First Indigenous Director to win an Oscar
New Zealand filmmaker Taika David Waititi became the first ever indigenous director to win an Academy Awards for his satirical black comedy ‘Jojo Rabbit’. Taika wrote, acted as Adolf Hitler and directed the movie ‘Jojo Rabbit’. The film was critically acclaimed worldwide. ‘Jojo Rabbit’ was nominated in the ‘Best Picture’ and ‘Best Adapted Screenplay’ categories.
Taika David Waititi won the ‘Best Adapted Screenplay’ Academy Award. He was kind enough to dedicate his award to all the indigenous kids in the world. He enthused, “We are the original storytellers. This award is dedicated to all the indigenous kids of the world, who want to do art, dance and write stories.” Taika David Waititi has etched his name in history books as the first indigenous director to win an Oscar award.
The Year of Judy Garland
Renee Zellweger made a great comeback from her long hiatus after experiencing a bout of depression as Judy Garland in ‘Judy’. This was Zellweger’s fourth Oscars’ nominations in the last 18 years. She won her first Academy Award in the ‘Best Supporting Actress’ category for ‘Cold Mountain’ in 2004. This year Renee Zellweger completed her awards’ hat-trick winning the ‘Best Actress’ award at the Golden Globes, SAG Awards, BAFTA and the Academy Awards for ‘Judy’.
The win at the Academy Awards made Renee very nervous while receiving her award. She stated, “Miss Garland, you are certainly among the heroes who unite and define us, and this is certainly for you.” She then saluted her parents, who were in the audience. Her father is from Switzerland and mother is Norwegian. She continued, “My immigrant folks, who came here with nothing but each other and belief in the American dream, how about this?”
Once she was offstage, she revealed that her legs were shaking, “If only I could stand up straight, I was shaking so much, oh, my word!” ‘Judy’ captures the last years of Judy Garland shortly before her death in 1969. Renee’s comeback is one of the inspirational stories of an actress, who was written off during a six-year hiatus from acting. She won her second Academy Award after 16 long years. The moment was indeed very sweet for Renee, whose infectious smile has captivated millions around the world.
The Male Domination Continues…
The male domination continued at the 92nd Academy Awards. Most of the nominations predominantly featured male characters and needless to say, came from male directors. Nominations favourites were mainly from movies, which were released widely in theatres. In spite of women filmmakers making great impact with some of the amazing movies, none of them were nominated for the ‘Best Director’ award.
White Supremacy seems to be the crux of this year’s Academy Awards’ main agenda. Hence, the diversity in nominations was conspicuous at the 92nd year of Oscars. The lone actor of colour Cynthia Erivo was nominated in the ‘Best Actress’ category for the biopic ‘Harriet’ and the ‘Best Original Song’ category for ‘Stand Up’.
There were predictable winners in various categories. Needless to say, every award’s night presents awards to big names, so that on television, the show garners big money via sponsorship deals. The Academy Awards also were biased to present these awards to only theatre-released movies rather than streaming channels like Netflix and others.
Laura Dern won her first Academy Awards in the ‘Best Supporting Actress’ category for ‘Marriage Story’. Brad Pitt won ‘Best Supporting Actor’ Academy Award for ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’ as predicted and expected. Joaquin Phoenix won the ‘Best Actor’ Academy Award for ‘Joker’. Hildur Guonadottir became the only third woman to ever win the ‘Best Original Score’ Academy Award for ‘Joker’.
Sam Mendes’s ‘1917’ won the ‘Best Sound Mixing’, ‘Best Cinematography’ for Roger Deakins, ‘Best Visual Effects’ Academy Awards. Greta Gerwig’s ‘Little Women’ won the ‘Best Costume Design’ Academy Award for Jacqueline Durran. Charlize Theron starrer ‘Bombshell’ had to content itself winning the ‘Best Makeup and Hairstyling’ Academy Award for Kazu Hiro, Anne Morgan, and Vivian Baker. Barbara Ling and Nancy Haigh won the ‘Best Production Design’ Academy Award for ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’.
The Academy Awards is gradually losing its glory not only among the cine-lovers worldwide, but also with the industry professionals. The domination of white male has become more prominent over the recent years. Without a host, the Academy Awards night has lost its sheen among million of viewers all across the globe. Biased nominations to make billion of dollars from sponsorships have indeed killed all the year-long anticipation of who will win the Oscars this year.
Cine-lovers and the industry professionals wonder, when will the Academy Awards resurrect itself as an unbiased body to honour true talent in the world of cinema?