South Korean thriller Parasite has pulled off a fittingly far-fetched twist to take home the Academy Award for best picture.
Bong Joon-ho’s movie about class divide is first non-English language film ever to take out the top prize. It seemed like a long shot going into the night after Sam Mendes’ battlefield epic 1917 built up a war chest of awards leading into the Oscars ceremony on February 9 (AEST.)
Scoring South Korea’s first-ever Academy Awards, the unpredictable thriller also won for best original screenplay, best international feature and best director.
“When I was young and studying cinema, there was a saying that I carved deep into my heart, which is ‘the most personal is the most creative,’” Boon Joon-ho said through a translator before breaking into English.
“That quote was from our great Martin Scorsese.”
Scorsese, whose Netflix offering The Irishman went home empty-handed despite ten nominations, then scored a standing ovation from the crowd.
The rest of the night was a cinch for Oscar office sweeps.
Brad Pitt continued his winning streak – and string of swoon-worthy speeches – picking up the best supporting actor award for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
He opened with with a slight against the Republican-controlled US Senate, noting that he only had 45 seconds to deliver his speech, which is “45 seconds more than the Senate gave John Bolton this week. I’m thinkin’ maybe Quentin [Tarantino] does a movie about it,” Pitt said, commenting on Donald Trump’s impeachment trial.
“In the end, the adults do the right thing.”
He also thanked his co-star Leonardo DiCaprio, (“I’ll ride on our coattails any day, man. The view is fantastic”), his family (“This if for my kids who colour everything I do. I adore you”) and reflected on his ride to the top.
“I think of my folks taking me to the drive-in to see Butch and Sundance and loading up my car and moving out here,” he said with tears in his eyes.
“To all the wonderful people I’ve met along the way to stand here now. Once upon a time in Hollywood. Ain’t that the truth?”
Joaquin Phoenix once again won this awards season for his role in Joker and used his time at the microphone to make an emotional plea for social change with a vegan slant.
“When we guide each other towards redemption, that is the best of humanity,” he said.
Sixteen years after Renee Zellweger scored best supporting actress for Cold Mountain, she won again for Judy. Zellweger touched on the power “heroes” in her speech before name-checking Martin Scorsese, Bob Dylan and Neil Armstrong.
Laura Dern’s turn as a vivaciously vicious divorce lawyer in Marriage Story once again beat out Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’s Margot Robbie for best supporting actress.
Accepting her first Oscar on the eve of her 53rd birthday, she paid homage to her famous parents, Diane Ladd and Bruce Dern.
“Some say never meet your heroes,” she said. “But I say if you’re really blessed, you get them as your parents.”
Earlier, Janelle Monáe and Billy Porter kicked off the host-less ceremony with a highly-charged musical medley relating to the year’s nominated flicks – complete with Joker and Jojo Rabbit themed back-up dancers – that galvanised the crowd into singing along.
Margot Robbie and Brie Larson rose to the occasion while Leonardo Caprio’s low-key awkwardness and Pitt’s blunt refusal had Twitter cracking up.
The colourful number came with a serious message. “We celebrate all the women who directed phenomenal films,” bellowed Monáe, taking a jab at the all-male nominees.
“I’m so proud to stand here as a black, queer artist, telling stories.”
First presenters Chris Rock and Steve Martin sang from the same songbook, with Martin musing that there seemed to be “something missing” from the best directors list this year. “Vaginas?” quipped Rock.
A surprise performance by Eminem of his 2003 Oscar-winning song Lose Yourself scored a standing ovation and downright confused reactions from Martin Scorsese, Billie Eilish and Idina Menzel.
Presenting the award for best visual effects to 1917, Rebel Wilson and James Corden played punchline, dressing up in costumes from their box-office stinker.
“As cast members of the motion picture Cats,” said Wilson. “Nobody understands more than us the importance of good visual effects.”
For a full list of Oscars 2020 winners, click here.