South Korean film Parasite makes history at Oscars in upset for 1917

  • Video report by ITV News Arts Editor Nina Nannar

South Korean film Parasite has become the first non-English-language film to win the best picture Oscar, in a significant upset for British war film 1917.

The class satire by auteur (a film director who influences their films so much that they rank as their author) Bong Joon-ho also won best director, best original screenplay and best international feature at the Academy Awards, leaving Sir Sam Mendes empty-handed.

It was widely thought that the British filmmaker would win his second directing Oscar for the First World War epic, filmed to appear as one long take.

Bong Joon-ho won best director for Parasite. Credit: AP

It would have come exactly 20 years after his win for American Beauty but he was pipped to the post for the Academy Award by director Bong, despite success at both the Baftas and the Golden Globes.

The South Korean filmmaker appeared stunned to win the directing prize, saying: “After winning best international feature, I thought I was done for the day and ready to relax.”

He quoted Martin Scorsese, saying: “When I was young and studying cinema, there was a saying that I carved deep into my heart, ‘What is the most personal is the most creative’,” and asked the audience to stand in honour of the veteran director.

He added: “I will drink until next morning.”

1917 did enjoy success in the cinematography category, where Roger Deakins won his second Oscar in three years.

It was also celebrated for sound mixing and visual effects.

British hopefuls were shut out of the acting categories, with success for Joaquin Phoenix, Renee Zellweger, Laura Dern and Brad Pitt, but Sir Elton John did triumph in the original song category.

He won alongside his long-time collaborator Bernie Taupin for their track (I’m Gonna) Love Me Again for biopic Rocketman.

Elton John and Bernie Taupin with their Oscars for their track (I’m Gonna) Love Me Again for biopic Rocketman. Credit: AP

Pitt won his first acting Oscar for his supporting role in Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood and took a swipe at the Senate and thanked his children.

He previously won a best picture Oscar as the producer of 12 Years A Slave but this is his first acting prize.

As he was handed his prize by Regina King, he criticised Senate Republicans for refusing to allow former national security adviser John Bolton to testify in US president Donald Trump’s impeachment trial.

He said: “They tell me I have only got 45 seconds, that is 45 seconds more than the Senate gave John Bolton this week.

“I’m thinking maybe Quentin does a movie about it and in the end the adults do the right thing.”

Dern got an early birthday present as she won the best supporting actress Oscar for her role in Marriage Story.

Laura Dern won best supporting actress. Credit: AP

She will turn 53 at midnight in Los Angeles.

Her mother, the actress Diane Ladd, wiped away tears as she watched her daughter collect her prize.

Dern said: “Some say never meet your heroes but I say, if you’re really blessed, you get them as your parents.

“I share this with my acting legends, Diane Ladd and Bruce Dern.

"You got game, I love you.”

Ladd was nominated for the best supporting actress prize three times but never won, while her father had two unsuccessful nominations.

Dern added: “Thank you all for this gift, this is the best birthday present ever.”

Phoenix won the leading actor prize for Joker and used his impassioned speech to talk about equality rights.

Brad Pitt's win was his first Oscar. Credit: AP

He said: “I think at times we feel or are made to feel that we champion different causes. But for me, I see commonality. I think, whether we’re talking about gender inequality or racism or queer rights or indigenous rights or animal rights, we’re talking about the fight against injustice.”

Phoenix became tearful at the end of the speech as he remembered his late brother, the actor River Phoenix, who died aged 23 in 1993.

He said: “When he was 17, my brother wrote this lyric, ‘Run to the rescue with love and peace will follow’.”

Zellweger paid tribute to Judy Garland as she was named best actress for her role as the Wizard Of Oz star in Judy.

She said: “And though Judy Garland did not receive this honour in her time, I am certain that this moment is an extension of the celebration of her legacy that began on our film set and is also representative of the fact that her legacy of unique exceptionalism and inclusivity and generosity of spirit.

Renee Zellweger paid tribute to Judy Garland in her speech. Credit: AP

“Miss Garland, you are certainly among the heroes who unite and define us and this is certainly for you. I’m so grateful.”

The Oscars ceremony, which did not have a host for the second year in a row, featured a surprise appearance from Eminem.

The rapper performed his Oscar-winning song Lose Yourself, 17 years after he snubbed the ceremony.

There was also a performance by Billie Eilish, who sang The Beatles’ Yesterday during the In Memoriam segment.

Full list of the winners

  • Best picture - Parasite

  • Actor in a leading role - Joaquin Phoenix for Joker

  • Actress in a leading role - Renee Zellweger for Judy

  • Best supporting actor - Brad Pitt for Once Upon A Time... In Hollywood

  • Best supporting actress - Laura Dern for Marriage Story

  • Directing - Bong Joon-ho for Parasite

  • Original screenplay - Parasite (Bong Joon-ho and Han Jin-won)

  • Adapted screenplay - Jojo Rabbit (Taika Waititi)

  • International feature film - Parasite

  • Achievement in cinematography - 1917 (Roger Deakins)

  • Achievement in film editing - Ford v Ferrari (Michael McCusker and Andrew Buckland)

  • Best animated feature film - Toy Story 4

  • Best animated short film - Hair Love

  • Best live action short film - The Neighbours' Window

  • Achievement in production design - Once Upon A Time... In Hollywood (Production design: Barbara Ling; Set decoration: Nancy Haigh)

  • Achievement in costume design - Little Women (Jacqueline Durran)

  • Best documentary feature - American Factory

  • Best documentary short subject - Learning To Skateboard In A Warzone (If You're A Girl)

  • Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song) - (I'm Gonna) Love Me Again from Rocketman (Music by Elton John, lyrics by Bernie Taupin)

  • Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score) - Joker (Hildur Guonadottir)

  • Achievement in sound editing - Ford v Ferrari (Donald Sylvester)

  • Achievement in sound mixing - 1917 (Mark Taylor and Stuart Wilson)

  • Achievement in visual effects - 1917 (Guillaume Rocheron, Greg Butler and Dominic Tuohy)

  • Achievement in make-up and hairstyling - Bombshell (Kazu Hiro, Anne Morgan and Vivian Baker)