SAG Awards: South Korean hit Parasite makes history

It is the first film not in English to win the prize for outstanding performance by a cast in a motion picture.

Parasite is hotly-tipped to win at the Oscars, where it has been nominated in six categories [Monica Almeida/Reuters]
Parasite is hotly-tipped to win at the Oscars, where it has been nominated in six categories [Monica Almeida/Reuters]

South Korean black comedy Parasite has landed the top prize at the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards, in a historic win that may strengthen its chances for Oscars glory next month.

The critical smash hit on Sunday overcame the language barrier to win outstanding performance by a cast in a motion picture, the SAG equivalent of the best picture Academy Award, becoming the first non-English language film to do so in the awards’ 26-year history.

The cast, little-known outside Asia, beat star-studded heavy hitters, including Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman. Actor Lee Sun-kyun joked that they felt like “the parasites of Hollywood”.

Director Bong Joon-ho‘s social satire, which follows a poor family as it infiltrates a wealthier household, is hotly-tipped to win best international feature film at the Oscars on February 9 after scooping the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in May. 

Unusually for a film not in English, it has also picked up Oscar nominations for best picture and best director, along with original screenplay, editing and production design nods.


The SAG Awards focus entirely on performances and are closely watched as an indicator of Oscars success because actors form the largest voting group in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science, which award Oscars.

Speaking to reporters backstage, Bong said no one could predict what might happen at the Oscars but acknowledged that “momentum is building” behind his film.

“But what happened today, what’s truly important is that these actors were acknowledged by fellow peers as the best ensemble cast of this year,” he said, speaking through an interpreter. 

There were few surprises elsewhere in the ceremony, with the four Oscars acting favourites all adding to their trophy cabinets.

The best actor award went to Joaquin Phoenix for his performance in Joker, while Renee Zellweger’s portrayal of Judy Garland saw her named the best actress.

Laura Dern and Brad Pitt continued their sweep of awards season, with the first picking up the best supporting actress for her role as a divorce lawyer in Marriage Story and the latter taking home the best supporting actor trophy for his performance as an ageing stuntman in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

Robert De Niro received the Guild’s lifetime achievement award. 

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies

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