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South Korea's Parasite beats Hollywood greats to make Oscar history

South Korean film is first to win both Best Picture and International Feature

LOS ANGELES : Dark South Korean social satire Parasite won the Oscar for best picture on Sunday, making history as the first film not in the English language to win Hollywood's highest honour.

The movie, about the gap between rich and poor in modern Seoul, won four Oscars, including best director and original screenplay for Bong Joon-ho and best international feature film.

No film had ever won both international feature film and best picture at the Oscars.

It was a remarkable outcome for a film that played with subtitles in the US, beating movies by major studios and Hollywood veterans such as Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino. The win also came at the end of an awards season that had been criticised for lack of diversity.

Instead, the Oscars stage was crowded with South Korean actors and film-makers, who mostly spoke to the audience through an interpreter.

"I am speechless," said Kwak Sin-ae, one of Parasite's co-producers. "We never imagined this would ever happen. We are so happy. I feel like a very opportune moment in history is happening right now."

When Bong got his first Oscar of the night - for best original screenplay, the first Asian film to do so in this category - he gazed at the golden statuette in amazement.

"We never write to represent our countries," Bong said. "But this is (the) very first Oscar to South Korea. Thank you."

Then after thanking the cast and staff during his acceptance speech for best international feature film, he joked: "I'm ready to drink tonight."

"I thought I was done for the day and ready to relax," he said upon winning best director, before promising to "drink until next morning".

He paid tribute to his four fellow director nominees, saying: "I would like to get a Texas chainsaw and split the Oscar into five and share it with all of you."

South Korean social media erupted in celebration, as hashtags Parasite and DirectorBongJoonho were the most trending on Twitter in the country, while the movie name was the most searched on the local Naver web portal after the wins.

"Just like (K-pop group) BTS had a popular appeal by casting the problems the youth go through everywhere in the world, Parasite gained global understanding by demonstrating the issue of the gap between the rich and poor," pop culture critic Kim Hern-sik said.

EXPECTED

The acting Oscars went as expected.

Joaquin Phoenix won best actor for playing a failing clown who finds fame through violence in the dark comic book tale Joker, and Renee Zellweger was named best actress for her performance as an ageing Judy Garland in the musical biopic Judy.

Phoenix, a strict vegan, gave a long, impassioned acceptance speech about climate change and animal rights but concluded on a personal note.

"I've been a scoundrel in my life. I've been selfish, cruel at times and hard to work with, and I'm grateful that so many people in this room have given me a second chance," he said.

In accepting her second Oscar, Zellweger - who sealed a remarkable comeback after six years away from the screen - said: "Judy Garland did not receive this honour in her time. I am certain that this moment is an extension of the celebration of her legacy."

World War I movie 1917 won just three of its 10 nominations - they came for its stunning "one-shot" feel cinematography, visual effects and sound mixing.

Tarantino's sentimental ode to Tinseltown, Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, brought the first acting Oscar for Brad Pitt, who played a supporting role as a laid-back stuntman.

Laura Dern took the supporting actress Oscar, her first Academy Award, for playing a ruthless divorce lawyer in Marriage Story. - REUTERS

Oscar 2020 winners

Best picture: Parasite

Best director: Bong Joon-ho, Parasite

Best actor: Joaquin Phoenix, Joker

Best actress: Renee Zellweger, Judy

Best supporting actor: Brad Pitt, Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

Best supporting actress: Laura Dern, Marriage Story

Best international feature film: Parasite

Best animated feature: Toy Story 4

Best original screenplay: Parasite

Best adapted screenplay: Jojo Rabbit

Best cinematography: 1917

Best original score: Joker

Best original song: (I'm Gonna) Love Me Again from Rocketman

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