By Bill Tarrant
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – South Korea’s “Parasite,” a pitch-black comedy about haves and have-nots in modern Seoul, won the Oscar for best international film on Sunday after also taking home the award for best original screenplay.
The thriller, showing how struggling scammers insinuate their way into the life of a rich family, with dire consequences, was considered the front runner going into Sunday’s ceremony after winning the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival last year, as well as Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild awards last month.
It has also proved a box-office hit, taking more than $161 million worldwide, including more than $30 million in North America.
“The category has a new name now, from best foreign language to best international feature film,” Bong said in his acceptance remarks. “I’m so happy to be its first recipient under the new name.”
The change from “best foreign language film” was made to reflect a more positive and inclusive approach to movies made outside Hollywood.
“I applaud and support the new direction that this change symbolizes,” Bong said.
Parasite, still up for two other Oscars including best director and best picture, has garnered a pile of prizes during this awards season, including the Oscar for best original screenplay earlier in the night.
“I’m ready to drink tonight,” Bong concluded in his acceptance remarks.
The movie “stays ahead of its audience every frame of the way,” said The Wall Street Journal, while Variety called the film “brilliant, caustic.”
Director and writer Bong Joon Ho said last month that the accolades proved that international films were breaking the language barrier with audiences.
“We can say that thanks to the internet, social media and these streaming services, the entire society is experiencing less of these language barriers and perhaps ‘Parasite’ benefited from that global trend,” he said.
Shares in South Korea’s Barunson Entertainment & Arts Corp <035620.KQ>, the producer of “Parasite,” soared as much as 16% to their highest since June in anticipation it could collect a prize. The stock settled about 4% higher after it won the Oscar for best international feature film. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences this year changed the name of the category to international feature film from foreign language film to reflect a more positive and inclusive approach to movies made outside Hollywood.
“Parasite” beat out Poland’s “Corpus Christi,” “Les Miserables” from France, Spain’s “Pain and Glory,” and “Honeyland” from North Macedonia.
Films from 92 countries were submitted this year.
(Reporting by Bill Tarrant; Writing by Nick Zieminski; Additional reporting by Hayoung Choi in Seoul; Editing by Jill Serjeant and Sandra Maler)