A satire on classism and leeching off the wealth of others by director Bong Joon Ho, ‘Parasite’ is everything that the Academy is afraid of in nominating: an original concept made by an international film by a director who hasn’t paid his dues.
Because of this, I doubt ‘Parasite’ will win the grand prize and if it does, it’ll likely have been snubbed of other categories such as screenplay or director (though it’ll likely win Foreign Film). Though having seen all the films nominated in the best picture category, I believe it should win best picture. Not to check off a box of representation in a year where many female directors were snubbed, but because it’s also the most critically acclaimed movie contending in the Oscars.
But winning titles such as best director, foreign film, and cinematography (all the categories that should, in theory, qualify as best picture) — is still not enough in the represent whom they want so-called ‘Academy’ as we’d seen in last year’s snub for best picture: ‘Roma’.
The movie is an original concept that bridges genres though falls between the comedic and dramatic, beginning as a fun heist film where the Kim family slowly infiltrates the Park family. Inevitably replacing all their valets, maids, and tutors using guile and wit. The family slowly mooching off the spending habits of the wealthy Kim’s. Though all is not what it seems. The fired workers whose lives are now ruined in what seems like a difficult economy, throws a twist into the narrative, as dark secrets are later revealed. With a harrowing backstory that both highlights and demonizes impoverished Korean society.
It’s a fun tale that slowly degrades into a tragedy about having your cake and eating it too — the wealthy house, the symbol of wealth and stability, providing the perfect form of representation — being everything that the Kim’s family doesn’t have. What’s interesting, is that the story is a well-contextualized account of social classism — showcasing a three-dimensional representation of the wealthy versus the poor that doesn’t deride the wealthy — as the rich family represented by the Parks, are surprisingly human people of whose kindness gets taken advantage.
Given that this was the director of such gems such as ‘The Host’, ‘Snowpiercer’, and ‘Okja’ — a middle twist was expected as Bong Joon Ho has established a career of blending excellent visuals with surprising genre turns that often flip a story on its head.
Likewise, the contextualization about what it’s like to be poor and rich is so playfully beautiful in this movie. Showing a three-dimensional representation that isn’t all that bad — as the Kim family is pretty close-knit despite not having much and even, they get their moment in the sunshine. With every character getting their own rewarding and/or tragic arc that fits well into the story.
There are also beautiful wide shots of both the house and the ghetto, with intelligent use of lighting, highlighting hope in the darkness of poor being. The movie even plays with the idea of stenches, with the symbolism of the wealthy ‘smelling’ the stench of those poorer than they are. All for a rare film that utilizes almost every sense in getting acclimated to its tale: the tastes of wealth, the stench of the poor, the touch of embrace, the sounds of eavesdropping, and all the beautiful cinematography all shot with the intent of capturing a particular moment or sensation.
Hands down, however, what the film does best is in its utilization of the montage. The pacing of this film was perfect in its time flying by and there was never a dull moment and every scene is beautifully captured. I think this video showcases it best:
It is for these reasons I firmly believe: Parasite should win best picture.
Now, the film has already won Cannes but to be frank, Palme d’Or at Cannes has lost a tremendous amount of respect in reasons years. Especially, because the ‘festival’ refuses to acknowledge movies by Netflix or Amazon, unless there’s an early theatre release because of outdated rules stipulating submissions. It’s very much a backhanded slap against the new establishment of filmmaking and in my opinion, if you’re going to arbitrarily rank the best in film, you have to accommodate all mediums outside of just the theatre.
Atop of this, Cannes, much like the Oscars, is not a festival. It’s a place of establishment and membership that doesn’t include a lot of submissions as they’re not a part of their little ‘club’. With snobbery disavowing films by those not within their inner Hollywood circle. This includes many female directors — of which, Cannes has snubbed in the past 72 years with an abysmal 4.3% selection rate —still lagging tremendously in comparison to Sundance.
I have a lot of criticisms against the Oscars. Mostly, that it’s an elitist club out of touch with its audiences. The fact that Christopher Nolan still doesn’t have an Oscar in a similar fashion that the Academy pulled along Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese for years, or that posthumous Oscars have been awarded to directors more out of pity than actual merit. Because honestly, Scorsese should’ve never won for ‘The Departed’ when ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ wasn’t even nominated; the same way that Del Toro won for ‘The Shape of Water’ to make up for not being nominated for ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ years later — the latter of which is purely my opinion though not too farfetched.
I mention this because if you’re going for the merit of best efforts: ‘The Irishman’ should win the best picture this year but doubtfully will because it’s too generic and ‘been done’ before. On top of this, Adam Sandler tried his best but was snubbed of a nomination this year for ‘Uncut Gems’ because of a joke he made on the Howard Stern show which unsurprisingly, offended the Oscars.
These are the types of politics I loathe about the Oscars. Because it’s not about what a film does, it’s about what it’s bequeathing of this award does for its own brand. It’s a reactionary organization fading in the eyes of pop culture, that doubles down to make up for its mistakes then double hinges backward years later after the ‘buzz’ of a movement or cause has faded. Because it’s less about movies and all about causes these days.
Which is why minus the political dramas and judging a film simply by a subjective perspective about which movie I’ve seen does well all-around:
It’s Parasite hands down.