By Lorna McGregor-Smith, Second Year, Maths with French
If you haven't already heard, Parasite (2019) ate up the Oscars, winning four major statues: Best Picture, Best Director, Best International Film and Best Foreign Language Film.
Not only are these the first Oscars won by a South Korean film, they also mark the first time a non-English speaking film has won Best Picture and only the second time one has won Best Director, the first being just last year when Alfonso Cuarón won for Roma (2018). Director Bong Joon Ho continued to charm with his hilarious and humble speech, ending his Best Director acceptance speech 'I will drink until next morning'.
What makes Bong Joon Ho's Best Director win all the more impressive, is that he was nominated with Hollywood legends Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino, who in other years would be a shoe-in. Joon Ho honoured all his fellow all-male nominees - see Natalie Portman's cape for the snubbed woman directors - particularly Scorsese, often credited as inspiration and hero to him in his student years.
There was another major first at the Academy Awards last night. Laura Dern winning Best Supporting Actress for Netflix's Marriage Story (2019) is the first acting Oscar for a film distributed by a streaming service.
Aside from its unusually people-pleasing decisions, the 92nd Academy Awards put on an impressive show to round off this awards season. The second year of its refined host-less format demonstrated further that a host only distracts from the awards and obstructs the pace of the show. Instead we were treated to some comedy filled transitions as well as some iconic musical performances.
Billie Eilish performed the Beatle's 'Yesterday' during the In Memoriam, which started by remembering Kobe Bryant - also commemorated by Spike Lee, wearing a custom Gucci suit which looked like Kobe's LA Lakers jersey, with his number '24' on the back. Winner of Best Animated Short Matthew A Cherry also devoted his Oscar to the late basketball legend.
Bong Joon Ho ended his Best Director acceptance speech 'I will drink until next morning'
If that wasn't enough, Eminem returned to the Academy Awards for a surprise performance of 'Lose Yourself', making for some hilarious audience reactions, 18 years after he was absent to win Best Original Song for the same song from 8 Mile (2002).
In an impressive feat, all four acting winners have as good as swept up the entire award season. Hollywood royalty, Renée Zellweger, won Best Actress for her outstanding role in Judy (2019), having previously been snubbed in this category for Chicago (2002) and Bridget Jones' Diary (2001).
Brad Pitt won Best Supporting Actor for Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood (2019), devoting it to his director Quentin Tarantino. Joaquin Phoenix's Best Actor win for Joker (2019) makes him the second person to win the award for playing DC's the Joker.
Interestingly, this year the two sound awards went to different films, 1917 (2019) won Best Sound Mixing and Ford v Ferrari (2019) won Best Sound Editing, when usually the year's big war or action epic wins both.
Ford v Ferrari also won Best Film Editing, even though it didn't have the same Oscar buzz as those films nominated in the major categories, it was still esteemed for its technical brilliance as a well-made - and clearly well-edited - film.
Elton John won Best Original Song for 'I'm Gonna Love Me Again' in Rocketman (2019), which, Beyonce's nomination snub aside, was the right result from a nominee list of relatively unimpactful songs. Similarly, apart from potentially Marriage Story, there were no real competitors for Joker's Best Original Score win.
Surprisingly Parasite and 1917 were generally seen as the two front-runners for Best Picture, despite neither having any acting nominations
1917's wins of the Best Visual Effects and Best Cinematography awards well reflect the visual masterpiece that is Sam Mendes' film. It transcends the war film genre with its technically innovative one-take format which results in deep undisturbed immersion.
Given the hype surrounding them during awards season, Parasite and 1917 were generally seen as the two front-runners for Best Picture, despite neither having any acting nominations. It is refreshing to see the boldness of the decision to award Parasite by the Academy, given their reputation for lack of inclusion and steadfast outlook on cinema.
The toughest call of the night, Best Adapted Screenplay was taken by Jojo Rabbit (2019). Every other nominee could arguably have won, especially Little Women (2019) and The Irishman (2019), two films that were potentially underappreciated this awards season given their phenomenal acting and interestingly paced sequencing.
The underappreciated categories, which are some of the make or break elements of a film, never make for nail-biting Oscar moments. But it was surprising, though not unwelcome, that Bombshell (2019) won Best Makeup and Hair over films like Joker and Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (2019), whose more fantastical cartoonish makeup usually wins the hearts of the Academy.
It is very typical, however, that a period piece like Little Women won Best Costume Design. And the fact this LA based institution voted Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood for Best Production Design, given its romanticised and glamourised representation of Hollywood and the streets of LA, shocked exactly no one.
Toy Story 4 (2019) rightly won Best Animated Feature. It is astounding that the fourth in a series of animated films is relevant and impactful and loved enough to win an Academy Award. The Obamas' biting documentary American Factory (2019), particularly poignant given the USA-China trade war, fully deserved its Best Documentary win.
It remains that the biggest names and most esteemed films are nearly all in the exclusive white Hollywood club
The three short winners are exciting standout films. The Best Documentary Short winner Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You're a Girl) (2019) is a wonderful humanisation of people living in warzones in the Middle East, which is unfortunately necessary in the West.
The Neighbor's Window (2019), this year's Best Live Action Short, is a stunning and brilliantly performed emotional story is a masterclass in intense high-impact short-filmmaking. Another gorgeous short is the winner of Best Animated Short, Hair Love (2019), acclaimed for its adorable representation of black cartoons and black hair, which is vital for children especially.
Despite the importance of these achievements of minority representation in the short film categories, they do maintain the socio-racial divide between the lesser and major categories. It remains that the biggest names and most esteemed films are nearly all in the exclusive white Hollywood club. I am warily hopeful that Parasite's sweep this year is not an anomalous moment of expanded horizons and that the Academy's mindset can shift to a more global inclusive one.
Featured: Kevin Winter / Getty Images
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