'Parasite' & Other Record-Setters at the 2020 Oscars

Mark Ralston/AFP via Getty Images
"Parasite" cast and crew accept the award for Best Picture for "Parasite" during the 92nd Oscars at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Calif. on Feb. 9, 2020

The South Korean sensation became the first film in a language other than English ever to win best picture.

Parasite made history at the 92nd Annual Academy Awards, which were dispensed Sunday night (Feb. 9) at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood. The South Korean sensation became the first film in a language other than English ever to win best picture. Bong Joon-ho won Oscars for co-producing, directing and co-writing the film. This is only the seventh time in Oscar history that an individual (or pair, in one case) has received Oscars in all three capacities in a single year.

Bong Joon-ho follows Billy Wilder (The Apartment, 1960), Francis Ford Coppola (The Godfather Part II, 1974), James L. Brooks (Terms of Endearment, 1983), Peter Jackson (The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, 2003), Joel & Ethan Coen (No Country for Old Men, 2007) and Alejandro G. Iñárritu (Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), 2014).

The film's road to Oscar glory began last May when it won the prestigious Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival. Last month, it became the first foreign-language film to win for ensemble performance at the SAG Awards.

This marks the second year in a row that a director has won for a film made in a language other than English. Last year, Alfonso Cuarón won for directing the Spanish-language Roma. Prior to Roma, this had never happened.

Bong Joon-ho shared the award for best original screenplay with Han Jin-won. This marked the first time that a film in a language other than English has won in this category since the Spanish-language Talk to Her, written by Pedro Almodóvar, won 17 years ago.

Parasite became the first South Korean film to win best international film (formerly called best foreign-language film).

Renée Zellweger won best actress for her performance as Judy Garland in Judy. This is the second year in a row that a portrayal of a music legend has won an Oscar. Rami Malek took best actor last year for playing Queen front-man Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody. This is only the second time in Oscar history that portrayals of music stars have won in back-to-back years. Jamie Foxx took the 2004 best actor award for playing Ray Charles in Ray. Reese Witherspoon took best actress the following year for playing June Carter Cash in Walk the Line.

Zellweger is the seventh actress in Oscar history to win in both lead and support categories. She follows Helen Hayes, Ingrid Bergman, Maggie Smith, Meryl Streep, Jessica Lange and Cate Blanchett. Zellweger won best supporting actress for Cold Mountain (2003).

Joaquin Phoenix won best actor for Joker, 11 years after Heath Ledger won a posthumous best supporting actor Oscar for playing the same role in The Dark Knight. This isn't the first time that two actors have won Oscars for playing the same role: Marlon Brando won best actor for playing Vito Corleone in The Godfather (1972); Robert De Niro won best supporting actor two years later for playing a younger version of him in The Godfather Part II.

Laura Dern won best supporting actress for Marriage Story. Both of Dern's parents are Oscar-nominated actors, though neither has won. Bruce Dern was nominated for Coming Home (1978) and Nebraska (2013). Diane Ladd was nominated for Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1974), Wild at Heart (1990) and Rambling Rose (1991). Laura Dern saluted her parents in her acceptance speech: "And you know, some say never meet your heroes, but I say, if you’re really blessed, you get them as your parents." Dern won on the eve of her 53rd birthday on Monday (Feb. 10).

Brad Pitt won best supporting actor for Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood. It's his second Oscar. He shared the best picture award six years ago as one of the producers of 12 Years a Slave. Pitt is just the third person to win Oscars for both acting and producing or co-producing a best picture nominee. He follows Michael Douglas (co-producing One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest, acting in Wall Street) and George Clooney (co-producing Argo, acting in Syriana).

Pitt landed his first Oscar nomination 24 years ago in the supporting category for 12 Monkeys. In his acceptance speech, Pitt saluted Quentin Tarantino, the director and writer of Once Upon a Time…"You are original, you are one of a kind. The film industry would be a much drier place without you…"

Elton John, co-writer of the best original song winner, "(I'm Gonna) Love Me Again" from Rocketman, set a new record as the songwriter with the longest span of winners in that category—26 years. He took the 1994 award for "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" from The Lion King. The old record was held by James Van Heusen, whose wins spanned 20 years—from "Swinging on a Star" (1944) through "Call Me Irresponsible" (1963).

In addition, John, 72, becomes the second-oldest winner in the history of the category. The oldest is Gulzar, who was 74 when he won for writing the lyric to "Jai Ho" from Slumdog Millionaire (2008). John's collaborator, Bernie Taupin, 69, becomes the third-oldest winner in the history of the category.

John is just the second openly gay songwriter to win twice for best original song. The first was Howard Ashman, who teamed with Alan Menken to write "Under the Sea" (from The Little Mermaid) and "Beauty and the Beast" (from the film of the same name). Ashman was still living when "Under the Sea" won;  he had died of AIDS by the time "Beauty and the Beast" won.

Hildur Guðnadóttir won best original score for Joker. The Icelandic composer is the third woman to win for scoring a film, following Rachel Portman, for Emma (1996), and Anne Dudley,  for The Full Monty (1997).

Hildur has now secured three-quarters of an EGOT in less than five months—the fastest that anyone has amassed that many EGOT-level awards since Bob Fosse did it in less than two months in the spring of 1973. Hildur kicked off this winning streak at the Creative Arts Emmys on Sept. 15 when she won for HBO's Chernobyl. She won a Grammy on Jan. 26 for that same work.

Toy Story 4 won best animated feature. Toy Story 3 won in the same category nine years ago. Toy Story is the first franchise to spawn two winners in this category (which was introduced in 2001).

 

2020 Academy Awards


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