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Oscars 2020 winners: Parasite and Bong Joon-ho make cinema history

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The red carpet has been rolled away and the after-parties are in full swing following the 2020 Academy Awards. It was a historic night for several reasons – scroll down to find out why.

What Oscars did Parasite win?

Bong Joon-ho's terrific social satire Parasite nabbed all bar two of the six Oscars it was nominated for: Best Picture, Best International Feature, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay. The first two of those wins are monumental achievements, marking the first-ever South Korean victories in either category – all the more impressive given the competition that Parasite was up against. Director Bong's film stole the limelight from Sam Mendes' war drama 1917 and Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, among others.

Parasite is also the first foreign-language film to win the Best Picture Oscar, and the first movie since 1955's Marty to win the Best Picture Oscar after triumphing with the Palme D'Or at the Cannes Film Festival. It's vindication for a movie that has achieved worldwide acclaim; director Bong sculpts a story of the haves and have-nots, using South Korean society as a microcosm for class struggles taking place the world over.

Yet the movie is not a heavy-handed polemic, but a riotously entertaining mixture of farcical comedy, horror and bittersweet pathos. Perhaps the real reason it's resonated throughout the globe is its innate sense of compassion, examining how certain individuals are destined to occupy certain stations in society. It's the dramatic culmination of themes that have occupied all of director Bong's work, including Memories of Murder and Snowpiercer – his films brilliantly fuse audience-friendly, popcorn conceits with meaty subtexts, helping them to resonate in a multitude of ways.

Accepting the Best Director Oscar, director Bong called out his filmmaking idols Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino. He says he hopes that Parasite's win will break new ground for foreign language representation at the Oscars, although Academy voters have a notoriously fickle short-term memory. As an example, back in 2018, Marvel's Black Panther appeared to initiate a sea-change in Oscar attitudes towards comic book movies, but last year's Avengers: Endgame was completely ignored.

The true legacy of Parasite's success will, therefore, be borne out in the coming years. For now, we should simply relish this moment where the Academy got it absolutely right, putting dynamic South Korean cinema on the international map like never before.


What Oscars did Joker win?

Parasite wasn't the only movie-making history at the 2020 Academy Awards. Joker star Joaquin Phoenix became the first person to win the Best Actor Oscar for a comic book movie; back in 2009, the late Heath Ledger was awarded a posthumous Oscar for his portrayal of the Joker in The Dark Knight. Of all the awards wins this year, Phoenix's was perhaps the most inevitable, spurred on by critical raves and an aggressive PR blitz, not to mention Golden Globe and BAFTA wins.

Joker's win for Best Original Score was also worth noting; composer Hildur Gudnadottir becomes the first woman to win an Academy Award for a comic book movie score. And she's only the third female composer in the history of the Academy Awards to hold the trophy aloft – the first was Rachel Portman, who enjoyed victory with 1996's Emma, and the second was Anne Dudley, for 1997's The Full Monty.


Who won Best Actress?

Renee Zellweger walked away with the Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in Judy. Like Joaquin Phoenix and Joker, she has been the recipient of effusive praise for her portrayal of Judy Garland, the troubled Hollywood legend whose ability to captivate an audience belied her inner demons. An over-the-moon Zellweger could be relied on to make an overwrought acceptance speech, in which she thanked everyone but their dog. It's Zellweger's second Oscar win and her first for Best Actress; she previously won Best Supporting Actress back in 2004 for Cold Mountain.


Is this Brad Pitt's first-ever Oscar win?

Talking of historic firsts, Brad Pitt's Best Supporting Actor win for Once Upon A Time In Hollywood is also significant. This is the first time the veteran Hollywood A-lister has won an Oscar, although he's generated as much attention on the awards circuit with his witty acceptance speeches. At the Oscars, Pitt jokingly insisted that he was responsible for writing these, not a member of his entourage.

Pitt was spurred on to victory by positive reviews and multiple awards wins, including a Golden Globe. Critics raved about his performance as mysterious stuntman Cliff Booth, an avuncular character with a potentially murderous history, who helps change the course of the Manson Family murders in Quentin Tarantino's revisionist fantasy.

Tarantino has something of a reputation for guiding supporting actors to Oscar wins – Christoph Waltz has won two of them, for Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained, and Samuel L. Jackson was nominated for Pulp Fiction. It's a testament to Tarantino's capacity for writing scenery-chewing side characters who often threaten to steal the limelight from the story's central figure.


How many Oscars did 1917 win?

As a result of its multiple Golden Globe and BAFTA wins, many expected World War I drama 1917 to storm to victory. Ultimately, however, it had to make do with just three, although the first of those, Best Cinematography for the masterful Roger Deakins, was expected.

The pioneering cinematographer crafts the illusion of war unfolding in one long, unbroken short (actually several long takes stitched together), and has been regarded by many as the true auteur of 1917. It's Deakins' second Oscar win, following Blade Runner 2049. The movie also clinched Oscars for Best Visual Effects and Best Sound Mixing.

On balance, however, 1917 might be seen as the night's big loser, with nothing for director Sam Mendes, or its screenplay. (The film didn't pick up any nominations for its performances.) Other movies that lost out included Martin Scorsese's The Irishman, a four-hour gangster opus that united Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci and Al Pacino, the last two of whom were nominated for Best Supporting Actor.


What Oscars did Jojo Rabbit win?

Taika Waititi's irreverent World War II-set comedy-drama Jojo Rabbit walked away with Best Adapted Screenplay, which is perhaps surprising when many had tipped Greta Gerwig's Little Women for the trophy. Waititi adapts Christine Leunens' novel Caging Skies, although the resulting film has little to do with its far more sombre source material; maybe this is what got the attention of Oscar voters, a sense of admiration for imploding and reconstructing the text, rather than being slavish to it.

Waititi has a reputation for doing this – he performed the same trick with Hunt For The Wilderpeople although, disappointingly, that didn't even get recognised with an Oscar nomination. It's Waititi's very first Oscar win, another historic first in a night full of them.



Well, that's the Academy Awards done for another year. Click here for the full list of the 2020 Oscar winners.

What do you make of this year's results? Let us know @Cineworld.

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