Parasite upsets Oscar’s apple cart as acting awards go to favourites

Parasite – a dark social comedy from South Korea – beat 1917 to Oscar’s top two prizes.

South Korea’s social satire Parasite has surprised the film industry by taking two of its top awards at the Oscars, becoming the first film not in the English language to take the Best Picture prize, as well as securing the Best Director award for Bong Joon-ho.

1917 – the First World War film that was expected to take the honours – was overlooked by an Academy that’s been criticised for a lack of diversity in its main categories, winning only three technical awards, including cinematography.

With Joker‘s Joaquin Phoenix continuing his successful awards season in the Best Actor category, Renée Zellweger winning another Best Actress prize for her portrayal of Judy Garland and Brad Pitt and Laura Dern capping their awards run with the ultimate trophies for their supporting performances, it looked like Oscar night was going to form.

Parasite – which had previously won the Palme d’Or at Cannes – was named the Best International Feature Film and also took the prize for the Best Original Screenplay, but the predictions started going awry when Bong Joon-ho took the Best Director honours that seemed destined for Sir Sam Mendes, who’d won the corresponding prize at the Golden Globes, the BAFTAs and the Directors Guild Award – traditionally one of the more reliable awards predictors.

It’s rare for the Director and Picture Oscars to be separated and so it was that awards watchers were confounded further when Parasite went on to take the top award.

It’s unusual for the Academy to be so out of step with the Globes, BAFTA, the Directors’ Guild and the Producers’ Guild.

Perhaps the only sign of what was to happen was the fact that Parasite had unexpectedly  won the Best Ensemble Cast prize from the Screen Actors Guild. It’s unusual for a film to be named Best Picture at the Oscars without an acting nomination, but 1917 also had no actors in the running, and with the actors forming the largest contingent of the Academy voters, what happens at SAG is often a good indicator.

Brad Pitt (left) was named the Best Supporting Actor for Once Upon A Time In America, which also won the Oscar for production design.

But if tokenism was forefront in the minds of many Academy voters, it didn’t help Greta Gerwig, who’d failed to secure a directing nomination for Little Women; although nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay, she missed out, with the statuette going to Taika Waititi for Jojo Rabbit. The only honour for her film was recognition in the costume category. Best Hair & Make-Up went to Bombshell and Once Upon A Time in Hollywood won the Oscar for Best Production Design.

Pixar secured another win for Best Animated Feature for Toy Story 4 and the feature documentary prize went to American Factory.

In the music categories, Joker won the Best Original Score and Sir Elton John won the Best Original Song for Rocketman, the film about his life that was otherwise overlooked by the Academy.

And here is the full list of the 2020 Oscar winners:

Best picture

  • Winner: Parasite

Best actress

  • Winner: Renee Zellweger – Judy

Best actor

  • Winner: Joaquin Phoenix – Joker

Best supporting actress

  • Winner: Laura Dern – Marriage Story

Best supporting actor

  • Winner: Brad Pitt – Once Upon A Time in Hollywood

Best director

  • Winner: Parasite – Bong Joon-ho

Best original screenplay

  • Winner: Parasite – Bong Joon-ho & Han Jin Won

Best adapted screenplay

  • Winner: Jojo Rabbit – Taika Waititi

Best animated feature

  • Winner: Toy Story 4

Best documentary feature

  • Winner: American Factory

Best international feature

  • Winner: Parasite – South Korea

Best original song

  • Winner: (I’m Gonna) Love Me Again – Rocketman (Elton John & Bernie Taupin)

Best original score

  • Winner: Joker – Hildur Guðnadóttir

Best cinematography

  • Winner: 1917 – Roger Deakins

Best visual effects

  • Winner: 1917 – Guillaume Rocheron, Greg Butler & Dominic Tuohy

Best film editing

  • Winner: Ford v Ferrari – Michael McCusker & Andrew Buckland

Best costume design

  • Winner: Little Women – Jacqueline Durran

Best sound editing

  • Winner: Ford v Ferrari – Donald Sylvester

Best sound mixing

  • Winner: 1917 – Mark Taylor & Stuart Wilson

Best production design

  • Winner: Once Upon A Time in Hollywood – Barbara Ling & Nancy Haigh

Best make-up and hairstyling

  • Winner: Bombshell – Kazu Hiro, Anne Morgan & Vivian Baker

Best live action short

  • Winner: The Neighbors’ Window

Best animated short

  • Hair Love

Best documentary short

  • Winner: Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl)