She was on screen at the Academy Awards presentation longer than Martin Scorsese, Tom Hanks or Quentin Tarantino. Deduct 5 points if you guessed Meryl Streep.
And, it was not Jane Fonda, on this night assigned to present Best Picture and whose activist's role was assumed by Joaquin Phoenix, whose acceptance speech for Best Actor lasted longer, it seemed, than the Gettysburg Address.
Did anyone get the name of the female translator for Bong Joon Ho? She made so many trips to the podium at the 92nd Academy Awards Sunday night that she might be reading for parts turned down by Scarlett Johansson.
The look on Spike Lee's face before announcing Best Director was both priceless and foretelling. When Lee, wearing a tribute jersey to basketball star Kobe Bryant, did not call Sam Mendes' name, one felt that history was in the making. And, on another Oscar night that director Scorsese wore the collar, it was.
"Parasite" not only won for Korean Bong's direction but for best picture, international feature film and original screenplay. Four Oscars for Bong, who last year at Cannes called his social commentary about capitalism and class hierarchy "a comedy without clowns, a tragedy without villains."
Hollywood, on this night honoring films released in 2019, thus ended a decade in which it honored a silent movie, "The Artist," and "Argo," without a nominated director (Ben Affleck), as Best Picture in consecutive years. Further making amends to Quentin Tarantino for snubbing "Pulp Fiction" in favor of "Forrest Gump" at the 1994 Oscars, the industry awarded the American auteur a second writing award.
QT did not win Sunday night in either category (writing or directing) for "Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood," set in 1969 and with a twist ending to actress Sharon Tate's murder that year by members of Charles Manson's "family."
Once upon a time, Hollywood honored director Martin Scorsese and one of his films ("The Departed," 2006) as Best Picture. But as with "Raging Bull" in 1980, "Goodfellas" in 1990, "The Aviator" in 2004 and some others, Scorsese struck out with "The Irishman," which profiled the man who claimed to have killed labor leader Jimmy Hoffa.
"The Irishman" had things against it from the start. Opening at the New York Film Festival, it was largely available on the streaming site Netflix when votes were cast. Another knock is that it lasted a seat-squirming 3 1/2 hours, although length doesn't keep people from watching "Gone With the Wind" over and over. And for the grisly subject matter, what does one expect from the director of "Taxi Driver" working with two Oscar winners from his films, Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci, and for the first time with Al Pacino.
That Scorsese is an icon in the motion-picture industry is not in dispute. That Hollywood grovels at the feet of the quintessential New York director (along with Woody Allen and Spike Lee) is something else. In a curious aside, "Parasite" is the first Palme d'Or (Cannes) winner named Best Picture since "Marty," with Ernest Borgnine as Best Actor for playing a shy butcher, 64 years ago.
On a night that it ran the table, "Parasite" made history merely by being the first Korean feature to receive an Oscar. Director Bong's film broke through after the country's 30 previous submissions to what was then called the Best Foreign Language Film category. Owing to its success in Cannes, "Parasite" expectedly won the Oscar in what is now (in an overture to political correctness) the Best International Feature Film division. But could it be nominated for Best Picture, much less win the industry's biggest prize?
That it crossed so many lines among an electorate traditionally dominated by older white male voters makes "Parasite" one for the record books. More than ever, Hollywood is a global community open to such as director Bong, who openly acknowledged Scorsese for inspiring his career.
"Parasite" outran "1917" to the finish after Mendes' film about World War I took Producers Guild and Directors Guild awards. "Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood," for which ABC commentator Stephen A. Smith said Tarantino deserved the director's award, did not have the legs necessary upon its July release when I called it perhaps the best American movie of the decade. "Jojo Rabbit" and "Joker" rounded out the field of Best Picture nominees.
If Tarantino feels betrayed by his beloved Hollywood for only two awards Sunday, he can celebrate Pitt's supporting-actor prize as stunt double Cliff Booth opposite Best Actor nominee (and past winner) Leonardo DiCaprio as film and TV star Rick Dalton. Seems like yesterday that Pitt burned up the screen opposite Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis in "Thelma and Louise." Come to think of it, the 1990s are beginning to seem like a long time ago.
Hollywood longevity was recognized with awards to Renée Zellweger (second) and Laura Dern, though one feels compelled to request a moratorium on films about Judy Garland. Zellweger was named Best Actress for "Judy," detailing the last days of the child star of "The Wizard of Oz" and famously overlooked for Best Actress (by Grace Kelly) for the 1954 remake of "A Star Is Born." One remembers Liza Minnelli, daughter of Garland and Oscar-winning director Vincente Minnelli, saying "thank you for giving me this award" while clutching the 1972 Best Actress statuette for "Cabaret."
Best Actor had long been conceded to Phoenix for his creepy performance in "Joker." In the telecast's fourth hour, Phoenix made a rambling diatribe that he conceded being "a scoundrel ... selfish ... cruel at times, hard to work with and ungrateful" but thanked "so many of you in this room [for giving] me a second chance."
Once the actor concluded his remarks, some joker posted on Facebook: "1917: an Oscar-winning movie -- also estimated length of Joaquin Phoenix' acceptance speech."
It was left then to Jane Fonda, once Hollywood's ultimate rebel, to present Best Picture. When the one-word title she announced was "Parasite" instead of "1917," the night's biggest winner became a world champion.Editorial on 02/12/2020
Print Headline: On Oscar night, 'Parasite' crowned world champion