Everything you need to know about 'Parasite' and its Oscar nominations

Christie D'Zurilla, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Entertainment News

It was clear from Times critic Justin Chang's radiant enthusiasm coming out of Cannes in May: "Parasite" was something special -- a movie to be seen, and then to be watched as it took the awards circuit by storm.

It's a journey that will culminate Feb. 9 at the Oscars, where the Korean-language film now stands nominated in six categories, including best picture and director.

But for those those who've missed the "Parasite" train thus far, here's a short course in why director Bong Joon Ho's movie is such a buzzy big deal.

The reviewsChang called the flick "deviously entertaining" and "a thriller of extraordinary cunning and emotional force," qualities that have helped propel it to $134 million at the worldwide box office, per Box Office Mojo, including $25 million domestically.

"The first hour or so of 'Parasite' is simply the most dazzling movie about the joys of the con I've seen in years," Chang wrote in his review, before the movie opened in the U.S. "It's a heist thriller of the quotidian, in which no everyday object -- a piece of fruit, a child's drawing -- is too trivial to be weaponized. Bong, his camera at once ecstatic and controlled, brings the pieces together with the brio of a conductor attacking a great symphony."

When that review came out in October, "Parasite" had already taken home the Palme d'Or from Cannes -- or the "Bong d'Or, as it must henceforth be known," Chang said back in May.


"If there is a particular reason why 'Parasite' prevailed," Chang wrote, "I think it's because it delivered the competition's single most original and entertaining approach to a subject -- the rebellion of the underclass, the return of the repressed -- that ran through many other films in competition, including several other prizewinners."

The movie now has a 99% "fresh" rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes, with a 93% score from audiences. Ultimately, "Parasite" topped Chang's list of the best films of 2019.

The storyThe movie follows the Kim family, four adults who live in a basement and eke out a living assembling pizza boxes. Then the son gets a tutoring gig for the wealthy Park family, and the game is on. The poverty-stricken Kims insinuate themselves at every turn into the Parks' posh lives.

"As the stakes heighten though, the laughter turns scathing and the tone becomes unsettling and terrifying. You're never sure where the story's heading and when it finally lands, the ending will leave you gutted," Times awards expert Glenn Whipp wrote in October in a column whose headline declared the film "should win all the Oscars" but might not win any.


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