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It took a foreign film for Oscars to be relevant again

Vicky Kapur (From the Executive Editor's Desk)
Filed on February 11, 2020 | Last updated on February 11, 2020 at 05.44 am
Oscars, Moonlight, La La La, Academy awards, Parasite
The cast of "Parasite" at the Oscars.- AP

The Academy Awards is no stranger to controversy and quirks.

Finally! Parasite made history yesterday when it became the first foreign-language film to conquer the Oscars. A masterstroke with which, in one fell swoop, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences laid to rest the ghost of #OscarsSoWhite allegations that have sort of taken the excitement out of the awards over the past few years. With it, the last big bastion of the white-dominated Oscars has been busted. It is a far cry from 2015 and 2016 when, in what was symptomatic of the systemic sidelining of minorities, no non-while actors were nominated for two years in a row.

The Academy Awards is no stranger to controversy and quirks. There have been streakers at the show (1974, when a certain Robert Opal ran across the stage in his birthday suit), dramatic awards rejections (by none less than Marlon Brando in 1973), stars have appeared in creepy dresses (remember Lady Gaga's meat dress or designer Marjan Pejoski's egg-laying dress?), and weird plus ones (Sacha Baron Cohen brought Kim Jong-Il - he said those were his ashes in a jar - to the red carpet in 2012). In 2017, they even managed to mix up the envelopes and give the Best Picture award to the wrong movie - La La Land instead of Moonlight - while, in 2014, John Travolta 'mispronounced' Idina Menzel as Adele Dazeem, triggering an array of social media memes.

There has been a host of issues with, well, the hosts, too. In fact, after Kevin Hart stepped down from the gig just before the 2019 ceremony, the last two Oscars have been host-less. Hart publicly stepped down when a series of his old homophobic tweets (from between 2009-11) resurfaced. In 2011, James Franco was visibly disinterested in the gig while his co-host Anne Hathaway failed miserably with excessive excitement in a bid to overcompensate. Whoopi Goldberg's expletives in 1999 stirred controversy, as did Chris Rock's racist jokes in 2016. The Oscars - the world's biggest celebration of cinematic talent - had been in the news for the wrong reasons for far too long. It took South Korean black comedy thriller Parasite's seismic win (director Bong Joon Ho collected four trophies, tying Walt Disney's record set in 1954 for most wins in a single night) to make the Oscars inclusive - and relevant - again. Now that was one epic awards show - something that we'd like to see becoming a franchise.


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