‘Parasite’ tipped for Oscar nomination

June 4, 2019

With the U.S. release of the Cannes-winning “Parasite” set for the height of Oscar season, anticipation is running high for the film to become Korea’s first-ever Oscar nominee.

The film’s U.S. distributor, Neon, recently set the title’s release for Oct. 11 in an apparent move to position the flick as a major contender in the international film category of the 92nd Academy Awards.

Many U.S. film production firms and distributors prefer October for Oscar preparations as the fall season gives enough room to build buzz before the award ceremony, which usually takes place in February.

This image provided by CJ Entertainment shows a scene in "Parasite." (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)
This image provided by CJ Entertainment shows a scene in "Parasite." (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

This image provided by CJ Entertainment shows a scene in “Parasite.” (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)


“Parasite” is director Bong Joon-ho’s seventh feature film following his English-language films “Snowpiercer” (2013) and “Okja” (2017). The new flick revolves around two families, one rich and one poor, who become entangled, leading to a series of unexpected violent mishaps.

As a non-English film, “Parasite” is regarded as one of the strongest hopefuls for the Academy Award for Best International Feature Film, previously titled Best Foreign Language Film.

The film, which has received critical acclaim for its well-rounded plot and mixture of various genres and won the highest honor at Cannes, also caters to commercial tastes as it topped the South Korean box office with a cumulative 3.7 million admissions as of Monday.

Before the U.S. release, “Parasite” will hit screens in France later this week, followed by Hong Kong, Singapore, Vietnam and Australia. Movie fans in Russia and Thailand can see the film next month, while it will be released in the Czech Republic and Poland in September.

However, there is still a long way to go for the movie to reach the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, California, next year.

It has to be first selected as South Korea’s representative film for the 92nd Academy Awards as the prize goes to the submitting country as a whole, not to a specific individual.

After the state-run Korean Film Council picks one best film to submit to the academy around September, the chosen film will compete against a number of movies from around the globe to make the shortlist of five movies.

Since 1962 when South Korea made its first attempt, no film has been nominated to the academy’s international prize section, while four Japanese movies have won the honor.

This year, Lee Chang-dong’s “Burning,” which was in the 2018 Cannes official competition selection, was the South Korean delegate but failed to make it to the final list.

Director Bong, who worked with U.S. filmmakers for “Snowpiercer” and “Okja,” knows the hurdles.

“It’s hard. It’s like, you have to pass the local qualifiers first and then you have to be the top five on the international stage,” he said in a recent interview in Seoul.

But U.S. media are positive about the film’s chance of winning an Oscar nomination, saying that the South Korean auteur’s dark comedy received universal praise after its debut at Cannes.

The New York Times said the film is the strongest candidate for the Oscar’s international feature category and can vie for directing and screenplay trophies as well.

“No Korean film has been nominated for the international Oscar before, but ‘Parasite’ is so strong it could even blow past that category to factor into directing and screenplay races, if upstart distributor Neon plays its cards right,” the U.S. daily said in its recent report. “An urgent story of class struggle told in the most sensationally entertaining way, ‘Parasite’ is Bong at his best, and the academy must take note.”

Local film critics agree that the probability of nomination is high considering the fact that last year’s Cannes Palme d’Or winner “Shoplifters” was one of the five nominees at this year’s Academy Awards.

“I want to note the fact that Cannes’ jury unanimously picked ‘Parasite’ for the Palme d’Or. It has enjoyed a widely positive reception from the jury and movie fans,” Yoon Sung-eun, a film critic, said. “It may be too early to comment on the possibility of ‘Parasite’ winning an award at the Academy Awards at this time, but we can expect its nomination.”