Parasite's Bong Joon Ho Just Misses Out on Tying Walt Disney's Record for Most Individual Oscar Wins
The Parasite filmmaker took home trophies for Best Picture, Best Director, Best International Film and Best Original Screenplay at Sunday's Academy Awards
As the 2020 Oscars wrapped with the exciting news that Parasite had won its fourth award of the night with Best Picture, the South Korean filmmaker, 50, appeared to be on track to have tied Disney for the most individual Oscar wins in a single year.
In addition to Best Picture, Bong’s gripping thriller won in three other categories: Best Director, Best International Film and Best Original Screenplay.
While the individual record stands at four, due to a technicality, it turns out Bong just narrowly missed the milestone accomplishment as the award for Best International Film goes to a country and not an individual.
Disney was the first individual to achieve that milestone at the 1954 Oscars, winning for Best Cartoon Short Subject (Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom), Best Documentary Short Subject (The Alaskan Eskimo), Best Documentary Feature (The Living Desert) and Best Two-Reel Short Subject (Bear Country), according to the Walt Disney Family Museum.
Though he didn’t tie for this particular record, Bong set plenty of others in the evening with Parasite‘s four wins.
With the film’s first win of the evening, Best Original Screenplay, it marked the first time that a South Korean film had won an Oscar. It also joined a small list, comprising of five other movies written in a language other than English, that have previously won the category, according to Variety.
Later in the evening, Parasite took home the award for Best International Feature Film, again marking the first time that a South Korean film had ever been nominated, let alone won the prize.
The successful night continued for Bong with his Best Director win, which also maintained an almost 10-year streak of international filmmakers claiming the title.
Mexican directors Guillermo del Toro, Alfonso Cuarón and Alejandro G. Iñárritu dominated the last 10 years with five wins between them. The only American director to win in the 2010s was Damien Chazelle for La La Land in 2016. Before him, the last American to win was Kathryn Bigelow in 2009, who stands as the only woman ever awarded the prize.
Finally, the night closed on a major milestone with Parasite winning for Best Picture, marking the first time an international film has won the award.
Parasite was nominated for six awards total on Sunday night after earning critical acclaim and the prestigious Palme d’Or last May, the highest prize at the Cannes Film Festival.
The film also took home wins at the 2020 SAG Awards for best motion picture – foreign language and at the 2020 Golden Globes for best foreign language film.
In November, Bong told The Hollywood Reporter that he partially based Parasite on his experience tutoring a wealthy boy in the student’s family home in Seoul. The film follows poor family the Kims as they slowly infiltrate the Park family’s home, getting jobs as tutors and housekeepers, all while pretending they don’t know each other.
“When you’re working as a tutor or a housekeeper, you’re in the most private spaces, and both sides are brought together in such intimacy,” Bong told the outlet.
Those interactions resulted in Parasite receiving acclaim for its commentary on capitalism and socioeconomic differences — but Boon didn’t originally intend for that to happen.
“This idea of a poor family infiltrating the lives of a rich one is where I first delved in,” Bong continued to THR. “It was more like putting these characters together in a very controlled environment and then watching the chemical reactions unfold.”
The 92nd Annual Academy Awards aired live on ABC from the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood on Feb. 9.