[PICK] From Cannes to Oscar, What ‘Parasite’ Has Accomplished

Edited by Hwang Hong Sun
Translated by Kim Hoyeun

The 92nd Academy Awards was an extraordinary time for Korean movie fans. This is the first time for Korean film to be nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Original Screenplay, Directing, Film Editing, Production Design, and International Feature film.

Parasite has continued its incredible winning streak since it won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival last May. There’s not enough space to list all the awards from all around the world that Parasite has won as the first Korean film. I’ll summarize what Parasite, which just created a new history at the Academy Awards, has recorded as the first Korean movie in the past year.


First Korean Film To Win The Palme D’Or At The Cannes Film Festival

Credit: CJ Entertainment

The very first trophy that Parasite won is the Palme d’Or at the 57th Cannes Film Festival. In last May, Parasite was officially invited to Cannes Film Festival and applauded for eight minutes after its official screening. Soon, it was considered the closest to the Palme d’Or along with Once Upon A Time In Hollywood and Pain And Glory. In these expectations, director Bong Joon Ho was contacted to attend the ceremony scheduled for the closing day, and with the unanimous agreement of the judges, he won Palme D’Or for the first time in Korean film history.

Up until now, the best result of Korean films at Cannes was Old Boy, which won the 2004 Jury Prize. Not only did domestic and foreign media rush to report Parasite’s winning of the Palme d’Or, but they also cautiously predicted the possibility of Best International Feature Film Award of The Oscar, which no Korean films have been nominated for the past 58 years.


First Korean Film To Top The French Box Office

Parasite‘s craze began in France. As soon as the film premiered on June 5 last year, it received an explosive reaction enough to top the box office in one go. Parasite became the first Korean film to hit 1 million viewers and recorded more than $10 million in sales, and also set the highest box office record of any Palme d’Or-winning films released in France the past 15 years.


First Korean Film To Top The North American Box Office

Parasite was released on Oct. 11 in North America after receiving positive reviews at the Toronto Film Festival and the New York Film Festival. The movie opened in just three theaters with a rollout method (a distribution method that gradually increases the number of theaters if the responses are good), earning $393,000 over the weekend and debuted at 14th place of the North American box office. It earned $130,000 per theater, ranking first in average theater profits among U.S. releases in 2019. With the audience’s favorable reviews and continuous news about winning major awards, the movie has gathered 33.22 million dollars in sales as of Feb. 6, topping the box office of Korean films released in North America. (Previous record is $10.97 million of D-War) Parasite currently ranks 6th in the North American Box Office of foreign language film after Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Life Is Beautiful, and Pan’s Labyrinth. We can certainly expect a higher rank depending on the result of the Academy Awards.


The Biggest Box Office In the History of Korean Films

Credit: Box Office Mojo

With positive responses from France and North America, Parasite performs well worldwide. According to Box Office Mojo, Parasite earned about $163.11 million in total, $72.33 million from Korea, and more than $90 million from overseas. It has attracted 11.09 million viewers and ranked 25th in the domestic box office. But Parasite has surpassed Extreme Job and The Admiral: Roaring Currents to become the highest-grossing Korean films in history.


First Korean Film To Win Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film

Credit: CJ Entertainment

At the 77th Golden Globe Awards, also considered as a prequel to Academy Awards, Parasite was nominated for Best Director, Best Screenplay, and Best Foreign Language Film. Soon, it was announced the first Korean film to receive the Best Foreign Language Film Award. One thing to note is that only a few times in history has Golden Globe nominated a foreign film for Best Director. The Best Director Award went to Sam Mandes of 1917, but there’s no doubt about Sam Mandes and Bong Joon Ho leading the race for Academy Awards Best Directing.


First Korean Film To Be Nominated For Academy Awards

Credit: NEON Twitter

On January 13, the 92nd Academy Awards nominee was announced. For the first time in the history of Korean cinema, Parasite was nominated for six categories, including Best Picture, Original Screenplay, Directing, Film Editing, Production Design, and International Feature Film. This is the first splendid feat made in 58 years since 1962 when Mama and the Boarder was submitted to the Academy. Academy members finally recognized the technical achievements made in Parasite, which were mentioned since the National Board of Review Awards.


First Foreign Language Film To Win American Cinema Editors (ACE) Eddie Awards

After the Academy Award nomination, the award ceremony for each category, including actors, directors, and producers, was held in the US from mid-January to early February. The fact that people eligible to vote for the Academy also participate in this award ceremony winning it signifies something much more. On Jan. 17, Parasite won Best Edited Feature Film (Drama) of ACE Eddie Award, and it is the first foreign-language film to ever win in ACE’s 70-year history.


First Foreign Language Film To Win Best Ensemble at Screen Actors Guild Awards (SAG)

Credit: NEON Twitter

On Jan. 19, Parasite became the first foreign-language film to take home the Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture at the 26th SAG Awards. The exhibition was held in a heated atmosphere of standing ovation as Parasite actors appeared on stage. The SAG Ensemble Award is as crucial as the Directors Guild of America (DGA), and the Producers Guild of America (PGA) for the actors hold the largest voting stake in the Academy. Since actors choose the Ensemble Award, chances of Parasite winning an award at the 92nd Academy Awards have increased.


First Foreign Language Film To Win The Writers Guild Of America (WGA) Screenplay Award

Credit: NEON Twitter

At the WGA Awards held on February 1, Parasite won the Screenplay Award. This is the first foreign-language film ever to win the award. While Once Upon a Time in Hollywood won Screenplay Awards at major awards such as Golden Globe and Critics’ Choice, Quentin Tarantino, who is not a member of WGA, was not nominated. Now that Parasite took the trophy, it became a powerful opponent of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood in a race for Academy Awards in Screenplay.


First Korean Film To Win British Academy Film Award (BAFTA) For Best Screenplay

Credit: BAFTA Youtube

At the BAFTA held on Feb. 2, Parasite was nominated for Best Film, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Foreign Language Film, and won two awards for Best Original Screenplay And Best Foreign Language Film. Parasite is the first Korean film to win the Original Screenplay Award and second to win Foreign Language Film Award, after The Handmaiden. In particular, the fact that Parasite won the Original Screenplay Award, beating Once Upon A Time In Hollywood shows us how close the movie is to win Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. Parasite is to be released on Feb. 7 in the UK, where the fever heated by BAFTA and Academy Awards is expected to lead a box office success.


First Korean Film To Win Four Academy Awards

Credit: The Academy Twitter

At the 92nd Academy Awards held on February 10, Parasite once again achieved a phenomenal “first.” After being nominated in six categories, Parasite is coming home with four historic wins: Best Original Screenplay, Best International Feature Film, Best Directing, and, most notably, Best Picture. It is the first Asian film to win Original Screenplay and Best Directing awards and the very first foreign-language film ever to win Best Picture in the 92-years history of Academy Awards. According to Golden Derby, an award-predicting website, Parasite was expected to rank in first or second places in each category. But in the end, Parasite stunned everyone by winning both Best Directing and Best Picture. It is the first time since 1955 that one film has won both Palme d’Or and Best Picture. Parasite has left a long-lasting mark in the history of film.


So far was a list of all the records Parasite made. As a fan of Korean film, I would like to sincerely applaud Bong Joon Ho, the director of Parasite, all actors and staff members who achieved what everyone thought was impossible.

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