Parasite Deserved Best Drama at the Golden Globes, Not Just Best Foreign Language Film
Parasite was my favorite film from 2019. I’ve seen it twice, and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since. Bong Joon-ho has already proven himself, with The Host and Snowpiercer, to be able to play with genre, tone, and language, but Parasite is truly his masterpiece. That’s why it sort of ruffles my feathers to see his film placed in the Best Motion Picture – Foreign Language category at the Golden Globes, rather than being placed in either Best Motion Picture – Drama or Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy.
At last night’s Golden Globes, the nominations for Drama were 1917 (which won), The Irishman, Joker, Marriage Story, and The Two Popes; Musical or Comedy’s were Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (the winner), Dolemite Is My Name, Jojo Rabbit, Knives Out, and Rocketman. The Foreign Language category contained Parasite (South Korea), The Farewell (USA), Les Misérables (France), Pain and Glory (Spain), and Portrait of a Lady on Fire (France).
First of all, The Farewell is an American film, and just because it takes place partly in China doesn’t erase that a huge part of the experience is focused around a Chinese-American lead. It is also a bilingual film, with both English and Mandarin, so its inclusion in this category is also irritating, to say the least.
What it and Parasite both have in common is being films that are both comedy and drama. Parasite is a hilarious movie, while also being a thrilling, almost heist-like film before taking another sharp turn at the end. In comparison, while The Farewell deals with the painful loss of a grandmother, it’s also filled with jokes around the language barrier and also about the usual family drama that comes with a gathering.
Parasite could have easily taken best drama, and The Farewell best comedy, if either were nominated in those categories. I know this because Awkwafina won Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy, becoming the first Asian film actress to win a Golden Globe in any lead actress film category.
Instead, they were placed in a “safe category.” Parasite can now win an award, as it was expected to, and The Farewell can still be acknowledged by the critical academy at large, while the big category wins go to other movies.
Looking at the movies that were nominated, with the exception of Dolemite Is My Name, they’re all majority-white films. Even though Taika Waititi is Māori, he’s still playing Hilter in JoJo Rabbit, and without him, the film is as white as you’d expect a film about Nazi Germany to be. Plus, both Best Motion Picture winners are period dramas about long-passed eras that focus on white men.
Even though 1917 is a great film, we just had the documentary They Shall Not Grow Old in 2018, which was praised for using technology, sound effects, and voice acting to bring black and white images of World War 1 to life and immerse the audience in what it was like to be a solider.
I know it’s easy to say that the Golden Globes don’t matter, and honestly, a lot of these awards are inherently broken, but there are still many barriers that need to be broken within them. We can’t say we want to see more diversity in awards, because that is important, but when the nominations/winners fall short, then say the awards have no value.
Having two Asian-led and -directed films, one by a man and one by a woman, win the two biggest awards of the night would have been a big deal, and it should have happened—especially since both of their films got better critical responses than the ones that actually took those awards, at the awards ceremony where the winners are decided by critics.
(image: CJ Entertainment)
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