Over 3,000 statuettes have been dished out by the Academy - Parasite's might be its most importanttwitter/discoverireland

My personal highlight of the 92nd Academy Awards? Probably the Glambot slow motion clip of Brad Pitt waltzing towards the camera – a moment never to be forgotten.

Jokes aside, there is plenty to talk about when it comes to the last Oscars. I could spend a long time dissecting all kinds of things, ranging from Chris Rock and Steven Martin’s corny opening stand-up to Joaquin Phoenix’s acceptance speech about artificially inseminating a cow. Ultimately, however, there is one name that towers above all the others: Parasite. No other film came even remotely close to receiving as much hype and attention as Bong Joon-ho’s multi-layered excursion into Korean society – and rightly so.

Bong Joon-ho makes history, tying Walt Disney's record for the number of Oscars won in one night Parasite/Twitter

Don’t get me wrong, Hollywood in 2019 had a lot to offer: Once Upon A Time in Hollywood was really fun, The Irishman felt at least an hour shorter than its actual length, and even Joker had a couple of good scenes here and there – but the heaviest hitter this year was conceived outside the dream factory. After two terribly disappointing ceremonies, handing Best Picture to an underwater version of Amélie and a feel-good race drama, it would have been an affront not to pick the current wunderkind of world cinema over yet another war film in the tradition of Dunkirk and Hacksaw Ridge (this time directed by Peterhouse alumnus Sam Mendes).

The reason why Parasite’s triumph is so important lies in its symbolism: it has become the first non-English language film in the Oscars’ 91-year history to take home Best Picture (silent films Wings in 1929 and The Artist in 2011 aside). It’s quite incredible to think that in nearly a century not a single non-English film lived up to the standards of the anglophone world: that’s because it’s a blatantly false assumption to make.

Cahiers de cinéma, perhaps the world’s most renowned film magazine, has published an annual top 10 film list continuously since 1981. In the last 40 years, how often did an English-language film come out on top? A mere 10 times. But it’s not only the French who agree that something’s off in L.A. County: The British Film Institute’s Sight & Sound is a set of two polls, one for film critics and one for directors, taken every 10 years to determine the 50 greatest films of all time. How many English-language films made the cut last time they were asked in 2012? 23 for the directors, 16 for the critics. Depending on whom you ask, every English masterpiece is matched by at least one - if not two or three - equally great films in French, German, Japanese, Russian, Thai, Chinese, or another language. Hollywood, it seems, is sweeping much more under the rug than just race and sexual harassment (as if that wasn’t enough already).

When Parasite rolled up, I couldn’t help but be hopeful once more, just one last time

Now we could pull out the big guns and ask why for example Fellini’s didn’t win in 1964 or Ozu’s Tokyo Story in 1954 (both top picks for directors and critics alike), but one needn’t look all that far back, really. Just last year the Academy saw itself confronted with a tough choice: do we reward Alfonso Cuarón’s excellent Mexican family drama Roma, or do we choose The Favorite, the most recent film by oft-snubbed European cinema poster boy Yorgos Lanthimos? They couldn’t really go wrong either way. Instead, their answer was of course Green Book – a horrendously bland road trip movie with serious integrity issues. Time for me to take a break from the Oscars, I thought. And I did – almost. But when Parasite rolled up, I couldn’t help but be hopeful once more, just one last time.

'International film, although almost solely represented by Parasite itself, was front and center at the awards'RollingStone/Twitter

Hollywood, it seems, got something right for once. International film, although almost solely represented by Parasite itself, was front and center at the awards.

But while what happened in the Dolby Theatre that night looked like a revolution for all intents and purposes, it was really only the much-belated first step on a long long march. With Cynthia Erivo’s acting nomination being the only one for a person of color, #OscarsSoWhite is as trending as ever. Similarly, Natalie Portman’s dress, embroidered with the names of female directors (standing at five nominations and a single win in 91 years by the way), surely raised more than just a few eyebrows on both sides of the debate. At the same time, knowing how sluggish the pace of change is in Hollywood, one shouldn’t expect all of its systemic issues to be fixed from one year to the next, and as L.A. Times critic Justin Chang so rightly put it, taking a step forward now might be met with two steps backwards next.


Mountain View

Vulture's alternative Academy Awards

In that light, maybe we should dwell in the magic that unfolded on Oscar night when Bong used the occasion to personally thank Scorsese - whom he studied in film school - and Tarantino, who always lauded his work when nobody else in the States would. It is a victory for world cinema in the heart of an insular America  – let’s see for how long.

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