What ‘Parasite’s’ Oscar wins say about the movies
A few days later — now that the surprise of “Parasite” victories at the Academy Awards has worn off — what do the film’s historic Oscar wins say about the movies? Here are seven key lessons.
Stories always matter.
As remarkable as “Parasite” may be for its South Korean origin, what distinguishes this film is its totally fresh story, written without adherence to movie or social norms by Oscar winners Bong Joon Ho and Han Jin Won. From the first moments, we know we have not seen this movie before. And we can’t wait to fully experience what these creators imagine.
Subtitles don’t have to matter.
In addition to how fresh the movie feels, what makes “Parasite” so accessible is how irrelevant its language of origin becomes to the film’s impact. The way director Bong Joon Ho uses his camera to make the characters come to life doesn’t rely on our ability to follow the spoken world. The moviemaker delivers an ultimately universal film.
The New York Film Festival sure does matter.
Once again, Lincoln Center became a natural stop on the road to Oscar as the annual movie celebration brought instant acclaim and attention to “Parasite.” As with “Birdman” and “12 Years a Slave” in recent years, the Festival helped this film get the attention it deserved well in advance of its theatrical run.
Movie theaters matter.
At a time when some contend that a movie can be as effective when streamed as when viewed in a theater, “Parasite” reminds us how essential the audience can be to the film experience. While this movie would thrill in any setting, enjoying it with others, hearing their reactions, sharing their reactions, accentuates the movie’s element of surprise.
Long after “Parasite” ends, we remember the people we get to know, the families who simply want more and the people who make all kinds of exaggerated choices to experience what they desire. In any language, this father’s love and, at times, desperation to provide for his family become as universal a plea as any movie could portray.
We rarely experience a film that is so universally respected by film critics without sensing they feel a bit obligated to like what’s on screen. Few reviews for “Parasite” bordered on polite praise; instead, from the film’s first appearances, critics quickly pushed the film based on the magical experience that Bong Joon Ho creates for his audience.
Audiences matter more.
On Sunday evening, as Jane Fonda read the film’s name when announcing Best Picture, it felt so good that a film people love should be awarded such a prize. In some years, Oscar can seem distant with the movies it honors. This year, the Academy got it right, choosing a movie as relevant as it is entertaining, as meaningful as it is surprising. What a total joy.
Oh, how surprising movies can be. Especially when they are as fresh as “Parasite.”