Well, that happened.
Parasite, the clever and daring masterpiece from South Korean auteur Bong Joon Ho began its path at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival where it won the Palme d’Or from Cate Blanchett’s jury, becoming the first Korean film to do so and the first unanimous winner since 2013’s Blue is the Warmest Colour. At just three years old, Parasite‘s distributor Neon took the film on a whirlwind festival tour where it showed at Telluride, Toronto, New York, Mill Valley, the Hamptons festivals (among dozens) before its US box office debut on October 11th where the film grossed $393,216 from three theaters. Its per-venue average of $131,072 was the best since La La Land‘s in 2016, and the best-ever for a foreign-language film. To date, Parasite has earned $35,472,282 in the United States and $165,362,304 worldwide.
The shear breath of what Parasite accomplished is pretty astonishing no matter what lens you look at it through. Whether it’s the Academy finally opening its doors to a non-English language film to win the top prize or the precursors it missed while still being able to win, it’s a true come from behind victory of the small film with a deeper social message (like Moonlight or Spotlight) triumphing over the bigger horse in the race (this time, 1917). Either way, the darkly comic story of a family of grifters infiltrating the upper class sits as a perfect metaphor of the film’s success.
Let’s have some fun with some records, stats and trivia from the 92nd Academy Awards beginning with our newest Best Picture Oscar winner.
Parasite became the first non-English language film to win the Oscar for Best Picture.
Parasite is the first winner under the new moniker of International Feature Film, formerly known as Foreign Language Film.
Producer Kwak Sin-ae is the first woman of color to win Best Picture.
Parasite also became the first Oscar-winning screenplay fully spoken in a non-European language and the first screenplay win coming from Asia.
Parasite is the only Best Picture winner of the decade to only have SAG as top-level precursor after losing the PGA and BAFTA. It did win the Golden Globe for Foreign Language Film but FLFs are ineligible for the top Drama or Comedy film category.
Bong Joon Ho won Best Director after losing the Golden Globe, DGA and BAFTA, which hasn’t happened in 19 years.
Korean language became the first non-European language to have winners from the main 8 Oscar categories (Best Picture-Director-Acting-Writing).
With its 6 nominations, Parasite has the lowest nomination total for a Best Director winner since The Departed (5). It’s also the first Best Director winner without a Cinematography nomination since The Departed.
The last movie to win Best Picture without any acting nominations and with 6 or less nominations is The Greatest Show on Earth in 1952.
The last film to win Best Director without any acting nominations and with 6 or less nominations is A Letter to Three Wives in 1949.
The last film to win Best Picture and Best Director without any acting nominations and with 6 or less nominations is All Quiet on the Western Front in 1930.
The last film to win Best Picture and Best Director and Best Screenplay without any acting nominations and with 6 or less nominations is, well, it’s never happened before.
Joker is the second fictional character to result in multiple Oscar acting winners (Heath Ledger and Joaquin Phoenix) after Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando and Robert De Niro).
Joker surpasses Forrest Gump as the highest grossing film to ever win Best Actor, and is the second-highest grossing film to ever win an acting category after The Dark Knight.
Hildur Guðnadóttir became the first Icelandic Oscar winner (Original Score). She is also the first female composer to win in 22 years and only the fourth ever after Marilyn Bergman (1983’s Yentl), Rachel Portman (1996’s Emma) and Anne Dudley (1997’s The Full Monty).
1917 joins Apollo 13 as the only PGA+DGA winners to not win a single above-the-line Oscar.
Thomas Newman remains 0/15 at the Oscars.
Mark Taylor and Stuart Wilson are the first sound mixing team of fewer than three people to win this Oscar since Tom Fleischman and John Midgley for Hugo (2011).
1917 is the first war film to win Best Visual Effects since Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970).
ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD
Barbara Ling and Nancy Haigh are the first female duo to win the Production Design Oscar in history.
Three different versions of Little Women (1933, 1949, 2019) have won an Oscar. The only other title to accomplish that is A Star Is Born (1937, 1976, 2018).
Jacqueline Durran is the third costume designer this century with multiple wins on 7+ nominations, along with Colleen Atwood and Sandy Powell. Durran also won for Anna Karenina (2012).
Jojo Rabbit became the first film in Oscar history to beat two Golden Globe-nominated films in screenplay while missing the nomination itself.
Martin Scorsese is the first director to go 0/10 twice at the Oscars. First with Gangs of New York (2002) and now with The Irishman.
Avengers: Endgame is the only modern era worldwide box office champ to not have won an Oscar.
TOY STORY 4
Toy Story 4 is only the second sequel to win the Animated Feature Oscar since the category was introduced in 2001. The last one was…Toy Story 3.
American Factory is the first English-language nominee to defeat a lineup of all non-English language nominees in a race with 5+ competitors for Best Documentary Feature.
The doc was the first produced under the new film production company Higher Ground Productions from former President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. As executive producers they do not share in the award.
Brad Pitt joins his Oceans co-star George Clooney as the only people in Oscars history with wins for both Best Picture (as a producer) and Best Supporting Actor, just in reverse order of each other. Pitt won Best Picture for 12 Years a Slave (2014).
Renée Zellweger is only the second actress to play a prior Oscar winner (Judy Garland, although a non-competitive Juvenile Oscar) after Cate Blanchett played Katharine Hepburn in 2004’s The Aviator.
Renée Zellweger is the first actress to win Critics Choice, the Golden Globe, SAG, BAFTA and the Oscar – twice, Best Actress for Judy and Best Supporting Actress for Cold Mountain.
HOW THE PRECURSORS MATCHED UP WITH OSCAR THIS DECADE
- Critics Choice – 5/10
- Golden Globe Drama – 3/10
- Golden Globe Comedy/Musical – 1/10
- SAG Ensemble – 5/10
- BAFTA – 4/10
BY THE NUMBERS
- Parasite – 4
- 1917 – 3
- Ford v Ferrari – 2
- Joker – 2
- Once Upon a Time in Hollywood – 2