Why ‘Parasite’ Should Win Best Picture (And 10 Fair Reasons Why It Probably Won’t)
At this point, Bong Joon-ho should be considered one of the world’s best living filmmakers. After pumping out great genre flick after great genre flick for the past two decades, the South Korean filmmaker has finally delivered his masterpiece: Parasite. Although Parasite is considered by many to be the best film of 2019, it’s also arguably the best film of the decade. There are numerous reasons for this, and yet the most pervasive one is a common thematic throughline of Joon-ho’s work – the dichotomy of class warfare.
From high-concept movies such as The Host or Snowpiercer to more accessible genre fare such as Mother or Okja, all of Joon-ho’s movies deal with class inequality and social unrest in one way or another. Parasite is no exception to this and, if anything, offers the perfect story to represent this thematic consistency throughout his career. It’s a film that perfectly captures the troubled and divisive time that we live in, which also means that it should easily be the frontrunner for Best Picture at the Academy Awards. Not to mention that it’s an immaculately crafted film on both technical and storytelling levels.
Considering that Parasite is a master class in filmmaking and easily the best movie of 2019, it should be an easy lock to win Best Picture at this point. As the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has proven in years past, the best film of the year and the eventual Best Picture winner are often not the same movies. In fact, the Academy often gets Best Picture wrong in retrospect, which makes the fact that Parasite probably won’t win the trophy all the more appalling. Despite being deserving of the year’s biggest movie award, here are 10 fair reasons why Parasite probably won’t win Best Picture at this year’s Oscars.
Cover Photo: CJ Entertainment
It’s Too High of a Concept
When it comes to Best Picture winners of the past, the Academy tends to shy away from high concept movies in favor of old-fashioned dramas. Although notable exceptions such as Birdman and The Shape of Water have won in the past decade, there’s nothing that would indicate that Parasite would fall into this category when movies like Once Upon a Time In Hollywood are clearly more popular with Oscar voters.
It Hits Too Close to Home
Parasite absolutely skewers the very type of people that are voting for Best Picture, instantaneously hurting its chances at winning the big prize this year. While the voting body of the Academy is certainly starting to skew younger, the fact remains that the majority of voters are rich old white people who essentially use the help to achieve their daily tasks. In other words, Parasite probably hits too close to home for it to win Best Picture.
It’s Not Safe
The Academy loves safe movies. Green Book, Spotlight, The King’s Speech, and Argo are all examples of this. Conversely, there’s nothing about Parasite that is safe, which makes it a tough choice for voters to get behind in a meaningful way. In essence, the preferential voting system that the Oscars use to select Best Picture works in favor of safer movies like The Irishman, Marriage Story, and Little Women.
It Will Probably Win Best International Feature Film
Part of the reason why Parasite has a minimal chance to win Best Picture is the fact that the movie is most likely a lock to win Best International Feature Film. Historically speaking, foreign language movies nominated for Best International Feature Film and Best Picture have never won the latter. It’s essentially a consolation prize so that an American movie can win Best Picture, which are shitty auspices to operate under. Unfortunately, that’s the reality of the situation and the likely Oscars fate of Parasite.
It’s Too Specific, Too Unconventional, and Too Eclectic
If you’re trying to make a movie that will undoubtedly win Best Picture, a sure-fire bet is to make the safest movie possible. With the exception of Moonlight, the Academy hasn’t rewarded movies that are unconventional, specific, and eclectic in the past decade. In the case of Parasite, it happens to embody all three of these traits. In other words, there’s no reason why the Academy will feel the need to reward such a specific movie like Parasite when films like Crash, Million Dollar Baby, The English Patient, and A Beautiful Mind can be the worst movies of their respective years and still somehow manage to win.
The Best Picture Race Is Too Wide Open
While there are usually one or two frontrunners for Best Picture, the 2020 Oscars feature a legitimate four-way race between Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, The Irishman, 1917 and Parasite. Even though each of these movies could win for their own various reasons, the fact that the Best Picture race will spread the votes even further among these four movies can't bode well for Parasite.
It Doesn’t Celebrate Hollywood
In many ways, Parasite condemns Hollywood rather than celebrating it. It’s this lack of sentimentality that might end up being a huge factor in why the film has no chance of winning Best Picture this year, even though it certainly should. Especially with a movie like Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, which is essentially a love letter that appeals to the voting body, the fact that Parasite doesn’t lionize Hollywood is yet another perceived disadvantage that should actually make it a concrete frontrunner.
It Has Subtitles
While it is completely unfounded and absolutely ridiculous, the fact that Parasite contains subtitles means that it’s probably going to immediately be written off by certain subsets of voters. Compounding this is the fact that an unsettling majority of voters either watch nominated films from home (via awards “screeners”) or even not at all. Although the latter is far more troubling, the simple fact of the matter is that voters might be less likely to watch a film that requires them to read subtitles. In other words, Oscar voters are often lazy and only care about American movies.
Perhaps one of the biggest elements going against a Best Picture win for Parasite is the fact that it's a genre-defying film. For the most part, the Academy tends to reward movies that fit in a particular set of parameters – especially in terms of genre films. While oddities like The Shape of Water have been rewarded in the past, the fact that Parasite transitions so seamlessly into different genres and tones means that it doesn’t quite fit into the parameters of what the Academy looks for in the Best Picture winner. It’s an unfortunate reality since what Parasite embodies is exactly what the Best Picture winner should represent. But that’s a larger conversation for another day.
It Has a Divisive Third Act
While 95 percent of Parasite features perfect filmmaking, the epilogue of the movie is undoubtedly divisive. Even though the film’s ending certainly fits the many themes that are explored throughout the runtime, it’s also a scenario where you’re either going to love it or hate it. There doesn’t seem to be much middle ground in this respect, which will also surely reflect how high voters put Parasite on their preferential ballots.