Culture / Entertainment

Parasite Director Bong Joon Ho and Chris Rock Steal Oscars Show in All the Best Ways — Finally, a Winner to Cheer

The Most Important Academy Awards Upset Ever is Also the Most Charming

BY // 02.10.20

Even before Parasite‘s monumental victory delivered that rare bit of Oscars justice, Bong Joon Ho won the night. Again and again. And again.

Only at the Oscars could the year’s best movie actually winning Best Picture of the Year be considered a shocking upset, but that’s actually what happened. Sam Mendes’ 1917 — which mostly makes Dunkirk suddenly seem criminally underrated by comparison — was projected by almost all the experts to walk away with the most important gold statue of all.

That would have been almost as bad as Green Book beating Roma last year. (OK, 1917 is a far superior movie to Green Book, but you can say that about every movie nominated for Best Picture this year and many not, including Best Animated winner, Toy Story 4). But no worries — this year’s Academy Awards got it so right.

Parasite is the most ingenious, compelling, funny and haunting movie of the year. So many scenes from Bong’s masterpiece stick with you long after the final credits roll. As someone who lived through their house flooding in Houston — albeit without sitting on a toilet, trying to smoke a cigarette as poop gurgles out over the sides and the dirty water keeps rising — the flood scene in Parasite takes horror to another excruciating level. It is impossible to watch that unfold in the movie and forget it.

And that’s just one of many scenes that linger — the Kim family hiding under the coffee table when the rich family they work for comes home unexpectedly early from a rained out camping trip, the way a peach allergy is turned into a deadly weapon, the Cowboys and Indians birthday party, etc, etc… This is also a movie where the daughter (the beyond excellent Park So-dam) is the most cunning, skilled and ruthless con artist of the family, no small story feature in a Best Picture field still largely dominated by movies completely centered around men.

Parasite is the first non-English language movie to win Best Picture because it earns it. Over and over again.

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This win would have been easy to cheer — even if Bong Joon Ho didn’t turn out to be the most charming Oscar winner ever.

Chris Rock is great in his brief appearance with Steve Martin, showing how much the Academy Awards overlords whiffed by going without a real host again. Rock delivers all the best lines off the more conservative Martin’s setups, including deadpanning, “Vaginas?” in response to Martin’s “I thought there was something missing this year” from the Best Director nominees list.

Then, there are the Jeff Bezos jokes. “Jeff Bezos is so rich, he got divorced and he’s still the richest man in the world,” Rock cracks. “He saw Marriage Story and thought it was a comedy.”

Still, Rock is rightfully forgotten by the time Bong hits the stage for the second and third time. It’s not just how the South Korean director keeps talking about partying. “I’m ready to drink tonight,” he says more than once. “Until next morning.”

And that is before Parasite stuns the world and takes Best Picture.

No, what truly wins the night for Bong is the amazing humility he shows — even as the Oscar statuettes keep coming and coming.

When Bong quotes Martin Scorsese upon winning Best Director and essentially shares some of his spotlight by giving Scorsese his own moment of lavish applause, it’s an incredible act of grace. (Scorsese’s The Irishman is a better movie than many have given it credit for and could have been a worthy winner in a non Parasite year.)

“In school, I studied Martin Scorsese’s films,” Bong tells the crowd at the Dolby Theatre — and the movie-watching world. “Just to be nominated was an honor. I never thought I would win.”

Parasite‘s director also gives Quentin Tarantino thanks for the maverick director including Bong’s earlier films on Tarantino’s own year’s best lists. To remember that and work it into your Oscar speech shows a remarkable sense of appreciation.

Bong is so charming that even his translator Susan Choi finds herself becoming something of an Oscar night side star.

Parasite Movie Oscars
Parasite walked away with the most important Oscars of all.

When the director says he thought he was done winning after Parasite took best International Feature Film, you believe him. Bong is clearly floored by his Best Director win — and happily speechless after the Best Picture finale.

Instead, Parasite executive producer Miky Lee makes everyone l0ve Bong even more.

“Thank you for being you,” Lee says of Bong post Best Picture win. “I like everything about him. His crazy hair. The way he talks. The way he walks. And especially the way he directs. His sense of humor and the fact that he can really make fun of himself, and he never takes himself seriously.”

Bizarro Eminem and Saving Parasite’s Speech

On a night when Eminem is put on stage. . . oh, about 17 years too late. . . Lee is almost not allowed to even give her speech. But with celebs like Charlize Thereon and Tom Hanks chanting for the dimmed lights to be turned back, “Up! Up! Up!” this historic Oscars moment is not marred.

If only Faye Dunaway displayed this type of presence of mind back in 2017.

These 2020 Oscars get the most important things right. It’s nice that Katy’s own Renee Zellweger won Best Actress for Judy (especially if you’re one of the 12 people who saw the movie). It’s long over due for Laura Dern to finally get an Oscar — and she and Ray Liotta were by far the best things about Marriage Story.

And how fun is it to have weird Joaquin Phoenix back?

But none of that compares to Bong Joon Ho making everyone feel good about the best movie of the year.

It’s one thing for the year’s best movie to actually win Best Picture. It’s another for the man behind it to prove to be more than worthy of all the praise.

That’s a double Oscars upset. One worth truly celebrating.

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