Oscars 2020: Are the 92nd Academy Awards' multiple firsts setting the tone for a more diverse Hollywood?

'Parasite' is the first international movie to win Best Picture and Hildur Guðnadóttir is the first woman to win Best Original Score


                            Oscars 2020: Are the 92nd Academy Awards' multiple firsts setting the tone for a more diverse Hollywood?
Bong Joon-Ho, Kwak Sin-ae, Hildur Guðnadóttir, Taika Waititi (Getty Images)

For some, Bong Joon-Ho's 'Parasite' winning Best Original Screenplay, Best International Feature Film, Best Director, and Best Picture at the 92nd Academy Awards could qualify as an "upset". However, as many in the 'BongHive' already knew, 'Parasite' deserved to win the coveted Best Picture award over '1917' or 'Joker'.

Of course, by winning those awards', 'Parasite' becomes the first movie to win all these four categories together and the first movie to become an international film winning in the Best Picture category. 'Parasite' is also the first international movie to win for Best Original Screenplay. Adding to this, Bong Joon-Ho is the first Asian director to win the Best Director Award.

These were not the only firsts this year, however. Taika Waititi became the first person of Maori descent to win an Oscar when he won for Best Adapted Screenplay for 'Jojo Rabbit'. The only other indigenous person to have won an Academy Award is Buffy Sainte-Marie, who won for Best Original Song in 1982. Wesley Studi, a Cherokee American actor and film producer, won an honorary Academy Award last year.

Further, Hildur Guðnadóttir became the first woman to win the Best Original Score for 'Joker' since the Best Original Musical and Best Comedy Score categories were combined. Before Guðnadóttir, only two women won the for scoring -- Rachel Portman and Anne Dudley for 'Emma' in 1996 and 'The Full Monty' in 1997 respectively.

Kim Ki-woo, Kim Ki-taek, Kim Dong-ik, and Kim Ki-jeong in 'Parasite' (Barunson E&A)

There were, of course, many disappointments. Greta Gerwig and Krysty Wilson-Cairns both lost for the screenwriting categories, signifying that there will be no female Oscar-winning screenwriter this decade, the first time that's happened since the 1960s. Moreover, there was not a single winner of color in the acting categories.

In a year of glaring lack of diversity in the nominations for all categories -- the Academy was called out for the lack of women in the Best Director category as well as the lack of people of color in the acting categories -- these firsts are important, not just because they were well-deserved wins, but also because viewers are unanimously happy with clean sweep done by 'Parasite'.

If anything, this just signifies that The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences needs to take notice. For many years, the Academy had been called out for its lack of diversity, yet each year's nominations disappoint movie-goers. 2019 was a marked difference in terms of acting categories, as three of the four winners in those categories were people of color. 

However, the need for diversity is not just important when it comes to the awards circuit. It is also important to look into through the whole year. The general popularity of 'Parasite' is proof enough that there is ample space for diverse stories, even if they come with subtitles. As Bong Joon-Ho himself said with the help of a translator, Sharon Choi, "Once you overcome the one-inch tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films."

As such, it's time for Hollywood to stop and take notice -- we don't just need more diverse nominations, we need the movies to reflect this rich diversity. Hollywood needs to tell more stories of people of color, women, queer people, and so many more.

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