Skip to main content

Parasite’s big night is one of the biggest Oscars surprises of all time

Parasite - Official Trailer (2019) Bong Joon Ho Film

Early favorites failing to take home the Academy Awards’ biggest honor is nothing new in recent years, but director Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite winning the coveted Best Picture category could very well be the biggest upset in the ceremony’s history.

The surprise win for Parasite capped off an Oscars ceremony that generally unfolded as pundits expected, but the outcome in two of the night’s biggest categories made the 2020 Academy Awards one for the record books.

In winning the Best Director and Best Picture categories, Bong and Parasite achieved a long list of first-time moments for the Academy Awards. Not only were the wins the first for a South Korean filmmaker and film, but Parasite also holds the honor of being the first non-English film to win the Best Picture category.

Those weren’t the only ways Parasite and its director defied expectations when it came to Academy Awards history.

Going into this year’s ceremony, the winner of the Director’s Guild of America’s award had predicted the winner of the Oscars’ Best Director category with a 90% accuracy, and had heralded the Oscar winner every year since 2012. Sam Mendes, the director of World War I drama 1917, took home the DGA award earlier this year and quickly became the heavy favorite for the Oscars’ respective honor, only to have Bong take home the trophy.

Similarly, the win for Parasite made Mendes’ 1917 the only film to ever win the highest honor at all four major award ceremonies prior to the Oscars — the Golden Globes, the DGA, the Producers Guild of America (PGA), and the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) — and not win the Best Picture category at the Oscars.

In the aftermath of the ceremony, some betting oddsmakers labeled the Parasite win as the biggest upset in the Oscars’ history. That’s no small feat, given recent years that saw films such Green BookThe Shape of Water, and Moonlight defy the odds to win the night’s top honor.

Although Parasite and Bong’s wins were certainly the biggest surprises in an otherwise by-the-numbers ceremony, they weren’t the only history-making wins.

Hildur Gudnadottir became the first woman to win in the ceremony’s Best Original Score category, for her work on Joker. The win was another unexpected one, as only seven women have ever been nominated in the ceremony’s score composition categories, and earned her a standing ovation when her name was announced.

Not all of the ceremony’s surprises were cheer-worthy moments, though.

Acclaimed director Martin Scorsese watched his Netflix mob drama The Irishman lose in every one of the 10 categories it was nominated in — including the Best Director race. Netflix entered the ceremony as the studio with the most overall nominations, but the streaming service ended up winning in just two of the 24 categories it had projects nominated in: Best Supporting Actress for Laura Dern’s performance in Marriage Story and Best Documentary for American Factory.

Finally, it was a minor upset, but one of the categories that did earn 1917 an Oscar was as the night’s Best Visual Effects winner. Going into the ceremony, The Lion King was an early favorite after being honored with the Visual Effects Society’s top prize, but 1917‘s innovative use of visual effects in a war drama filmed to make it look like a single shot ended up winning over Oscar voters in the end.

Editors' Recommendations

Rick Marshall
A veteran journalist with more than two decades of experience covering local and national news, arts and entertainment, and…
The best movies on Amazon Prime Video (June 2024)
Johnny Depp in Black Mass.

The pickings are slim this week on Amazon Prime Video. Next week's big arrival, Oppenheimer, is easily the top film of the month as well as the reigning Best Picture winner at the Oscars. In the meantime, there's not much in the way of selection for new movies to watch. Ironically, both of our new additions this week were originally in theaters in 2015. The first is a true crime story starring Johnny Depp called Black Mass, and the second is Daddy's Home, a family comedy starring Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg.

Keep reading for our complete roundup of the best movies on Amazon Prime Video right now. We update the list every Friday so you'll always have something fun to watch on the weekend.

Read more
The best new shows to stream on Netflix, Hulu, Max (HBO), and more
Matt Smith in House of the Dragon in a dark photo looking menacing.

This is the big week we've been waiting for in the streaming-verse. Not only has Prime Video debuted the first three episodes of The Boys season 4, but on Sunday, June 16, HBO and Max are premiering the second season of House of the Dragon. Between those two shows alone, genre fans are in for a treat. Also on Sunday, MGM+ is debuting its new crime drama, Hotel Cocaine.

Meanwhile, Netflix is giving romance lovers the second half of Bridgerton season 3. And if you missed any of the other big premieres in June including The Acolyte, Clipped, and more, they're all among the best new shows to stream below.

Read more
The Boys shouldn’t end with season 5
The cast of The Boys.

Showrunner Eric Kripke recently confirmed The Boys will end in season 5. The announcement came only a few days after speculation emerged about the show possibly going beyond its initial five-season plan, especially considering the highly-anticipated season 4 returns this week to strong reviews and incredible hype from audiences.

The thing is, it makes sense to end The Boys with season 5 -- it also makes no sense to end The Boys with season 5. The show is undisputedly the crown jewel of Amazon Prime Video, earning the type of views and generating the kind of discussion few television projects can. In short, The Boys is a true phenomenon, the likes of which we are getting less used to. Only a few other TV projects can compare to The Boys' influence on pop culture -- certainly none from Prime Video. So, while ending a show in the showrunner's terms will always be a good thing, a strong case can be made for why The Boys should continue beyond its five-season arc, albeit with some changes.
Leave while you're on top?

Read more