Parasite has embedded itself into Academy Awards history.
Bong Joon Ho‘s passionately beloved international thriller has become the first South Korean film — and, additionally, the first foreign-language film — in history to win the Oscar for Best Picture, taking the Academy’s highest honor Sunday night over other front-running contenders 1917, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, and Jojo Rabbit.
“I’m speechless. We never imagined this to ever happen, we’re so happy,” producer Kwak Sin Ae said during her acceptance speech, flanked on both sides by Parasite‘s cast and crew. “I feel like [this is] a very opportune moment in history that is happening right now. I express my deepest gratitude and respect for all the members of the Academy for making this decision.”
South Korean movie mogul Miky Lee also spoke after Parasite‘s victory.
“I’d really like to thank Director Bong. Thank you for being you, and I like everything about him: His smile, his crazy hair, the way he talks, the way he walks, and, especially, the way he directs!” she said before thanking “our Korean film audience” for supporting the country’s cinematic output.
“[You] never hesitated to give us strength [and] opinions on what they feel [about our] movies,” she finished. “And that made us never able to be complacent, and [kept] pushing the directors and the creators [to] push the envelope.”
Parasite‘s victory brings to a close one of the most contentious Best Picture races in recent history, which saw Sam Mendes’ 1917, Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, and Taika Waititi’s Jojo Rabbit each jockeying for Oscar affection throughout the precursor circuit and sharing various precursor trophies throughout the season. In addition to becoming a specialty hit at the box office, Parasite scored the SAG Awards’ highest honor in January ahead of scoring six overall Oscar nominations — including Best Director and Best International Feature Film.
Director Bong previously told EW the film — about a poor family posing as luxury service workers to infiltrate the lives of a much wealthier family — incorporates violence as a means to hold a mirror to society’s class conflicts.
“I think it’s really about the basic approach you take with the violence more than how much blood you see or how many bodies you see on screen,” he said. “I really think that in Parasite there’s an underlying sadness regarding this violence throughout the entire film. Just before that climactic sequence, there are a couple scenes which present the opportunity to avoid the violence and the tragedy, but it’s an opportunity that none of the characters can hold on to. That reflects the sadness we all experience in modern times.”
The Best Picture victory caps off a very successful night for Parasite, which also took home Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and Best International Feature. See the full list of Oscar winners here.