The Oscar nominations are always one of the most frustrating weeks to be on the internet, as people rightly complain about all the deserving creators who have been excluded for not being white and male enough.
Depressingly, 2020 has been like every other year. Actresses like Lupita Nyong'o have been excluded while Scarlett Johansson was nominated twice. Greta Gerwig was also snubbed for a directorial nomination for Little Women.
But one film that’s been nominated in both major categories – Best Picture and Best Director – is Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite.
The South Korean film tells the story of a poor tutor who starts working for a wealthy family. What starts off as a seemingly normal story grows into a picture that practically convulses with tension, forcing us to question our ideas of dignity, class and our culpability within these structures. It’s a story that could take place in any city, like London or Los Angeles, where the wealthy use their money to insulate themselves from the worries of the outside world, stripping themselves of empathy in the pursuit of status.
Is Parasite’s potential Oscar glory a game-changer?
The film is being lauded as a “directorial masterpiece” by critics and viewers. It certainly feels unusual for a foreign language film – but particularly one that dissects Asian class structure in such a precise, critical manner – to receive this type of hype. After all, Parasite follows Crazy Rich Asians, which explored Asian/American culture in English and was far more celebratory of obscene wealth.
Accepting the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film, Joon-ho said:
Once you overcome the one-inch tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films.
But some people also think that Parasite is being snubbed.
The Oscars neglected the cast from its almost entirely white acting nominations, despite primary cast – Song Kang-Ho, Jang Hye-jin, Choi Woo-Shik, Park So-Dam – expertly conveying each and every micro-aggression that class conflict provides.
None of the Parasite cast were recognised by the Golden Globes or the 2020 BAFTAs (which only recognised white actors, including two nominations for Margot Robbie). The cast fared better as a group, garnering the Screen Actors Guild nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture (which will be awarded on 19 January).
Why is this happening?
E. Alex Jung, a senior writer at Vulture, thinks that the snub is to do with cultural bias.
Karen Han agrees, particularly seeing as the film's director describes it as "actor-led".
What chance does Parasite have of winning the Best Picture Oscar?
Winning Oscars is often down to the awards season “campaign” and the buzz that films have as Academy members vote. Best Picture is an unpredictable category – remember when Moonlight snatched the award from La La Land at the last minute?
As the buzz surrounding Parasite continues to grow, so will the film’s chances of winning big. Despite the acting snubs, this amount of excitement and critical acclaim for a film like Parasite might open the minds of audiences – and the Academy – to Asian films in future. That would definitely be a game-changer.