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Opinion Matrix: Oscars fall out and surprise winners


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With the surprise of a sub-titled South Korean film stealing the headlines at the Oscars to the responses of the winners, the most glamorous awards ceremony in the movie industry dominated yesterday’s comment and opinion pages.

The Times

It’s editorial says South Koreans have turned their worries into inspiration in reference to Parasite winning best picture at the Oscars.

It said: “Living on the cusp of a volcano, with the nuclear missiles and heavy artillery of Kim Jong-un menacingly close to the border, makes South Koreans understandably anxious. Their talent, however, has been to turn these worries into creative inspiration.There is a doughtiness and humour about the South Koreans and an absolute determination to hold power to account, to demand explanations for abuse of public funds and to burst the bubble of the super-rich. The contemporary K-Pop musicians, the boy bands, the Gangnam dance craze, and an extraordinary wave of film-making reflect the nation’s nervous energy. As a result South Korea now ranks not just as an astute technology hub but also as one of the great soft-power exponents in Asia.

“The four Oscars for Parasite, including it becoming the first non-English film to win Best Picture, are shaking up the region. In the Philippines artists are demanding more government support for film-making to match South Korea.”

The Daily Mail

Tom Leonard devotes his column to the Parasite phenomenon.

He says: “Bong’s intensive research extended to the characters- he had a script-writing assistant spend months interviewing chauffeurs, housekeepers and tutors in wealthy areas of Seoul. If Parasite is anything to go by, their experience wasn’t always a pleasure.

“The second half of the film is packed with plot twists. ‘It was like when you have water draining in the sink,” says Bong. ‘At first you barely notice the waterline descending, but near the end, you start to hear a gurgling as everything rushes down the drain.’ It’s an apt metaphor for a movie whose ending is shocking but also moving.

“Bong never expected Parasite to make a profit as the plot was so ‘weird’ (and it was in Korean).

“But grasping his trophies on Sunday, he acknowledged that ‘rich versus poor’ was a universal theme. And they don’t come much richer than the Hollywood elite that ended up cheering themselves hoarse for Parasite at the Oscars.”

The Daily Telegraph

Celia Walden writes in her column that the Oscars is now just a sermon for the “self-righteous.”

She says: “The Oscars 2020 were like an ageing Holywood star’s face: so full of filler, you no longer understood what you were looking at.

“You could put most of the rambling incoherence down to the lack of a host for the second year running. Last year’s supposed presenter Kevin Hart was found to be morally lacking – he quit after some old homophobic tweets resurfaced – and the ceremony went ahead without a frontman.

“Going hostless again this year wasn’t the “successful formula” they would have us believe, giving free rein to guest presenters, as it did, to make their own self-aggrandising points.

“Steve Martin and Chris Rock snuck in an opening joke about the treatment of Hart. Martin:” They don’t really have hosts anymore. Why is that?” Rock: “Twitter! Everybody’s got an embarrassing tweet somewhere. I know I do.”

“This town is not comfortable with self-awareness, but it does like making lofty political points, and if Donald Trump’s election proved one thing, it’s that there’s a president-in-waiting in every US screen star.”

The Scotsman

Alistair Harkness column says Bong’s screenplay win did deny 1917’s Scottish co-writer Krysty Wilson-Cairns an Oscar (although 1917’s Scottish sound mixer Stuart Wilson triumphed for his work on the film).

He says: “The twisty Hitchockian thriller has become a genuine phenomenon since triumphing at the Cannes film festival last May – and Bong has been one of the most gracious and entertaining fixtures on this season’s awards circuit. Symbolically its victory also felt appropriate on a night that the ceremony’s organisers, presenters and winners were forced to acknowledge the lack of diversity among the most high-profile nominees.”

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