Revisiting the Magic That Was Bong Joon-Ho’s 2020 Oscars Night

Though it feels like eons ago, it was just two years ago that South Korean director Bong Joon-Ho won three Oscars for his film Parasite. Take a look back at his historic night.

By Lindsay Weinberg Mar 28, 2022 4:00 AMTags
Watch: "Parasite" Director Boon Jong-Ho Still in Disbelief Over 4 Oscar Wins

During the 2020 Oscars, it wasn't a virus, but rather a parasite, that was on everyone's minds.

It was just two years ago that Parasite—directed by South Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-Ho—swept the Oscars. 

Many of us have lost all sense of time during the coronavirus pandemic, so allow us to refresh your memory: Just one month before a worldwide lockdown began, the 2020 Oscars took place live in person, like usual, at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood. For Bong, it was a night filled with movie magic.

Jane Fonda announced the best picture winner at the very end, taking a momentous pause before reading out the name from the envelope. When Parasite was called out, the genre-defying movie made history by becoming the first non-English language film to win best picture in the 92-year history of the award show. 

"I'm speechless," executive producer Kwak Sin-ae said, via a translator, while accepting the trophy. "We never imagined this to ever happen. We are so happy. I feel like a very opportune moment in history is happening right now. I express my deepest gratitude and respect for all the members of the Academy for making this decision."

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The lights started to dim, but soon, numerous A-listers in the front row were chanting and waving their arms, encouraging the production crew to grant the Bong Hive more time to give their speeches.

That's when mega producer Miky Lee took the mic and gushed over the project's leader.

FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images

She shared on stage, "Hi, everybody. I'd really like to thank director Bong. Thank you for being you. I like everything about him. His smile, his crazy hair. The way he talks. The way he walks. And especially the way he directs. And what I really like about him is his sense of humor and he can be really making fun of himself and he never takes himself seriously. Thank you."

As for the mastermind himself, Bong told reporters backstage that he was not letting his success get to his head.

"I have to work, it's my job," he explained. "So I've been working for the past 20 years, and regardless what happened at Cannes and Oscars, I had been working on two projects before then, I'm continuing to work on them, nothing has changed because of these awards."

And who could forget the wacky moment when the Snowpiercer director made his two Oscar statues kiss? 

The following month, Bong reflected on his whirlwind award season for an article in The Atlantic, saying, "Now that I finally have time, I'm trying to get back on it, but I'm so exhausted, mentally and physically... I'm just a shell of a human."

It seems he did not have much time to recover, as he soon finished the script of his next movie. He revealed in February 2021 that he worked on two projects simultaneously during the pandemic: "It feels like I'm splitting my brain in half left and right writing these two scripts. But I finished one." 

Keep scrolling to relive Bong's magical night at the 2020 Oscars.

Bong Hive Rise Up

Throughout the night the director made sure to highlight the casts, competitors and friends who were at the show. At one point he even made the Parasite cast for a well-deserved standing ovation.

Shimmy-Shimmy

The director gives fans a preview of the dance moves he'll be rocking on the dance floor at the after-parties.

Double Trouble

Name a better duo... we'll wait.

Legends Only

Who else is wishing for a collab?

Pure Joy

In a moment of humility, the Korean director is caught marveling at the Oscar statuette he holds in his hand. 

Best Pals

Diane Keaton is officially inducted into the Bong Hive after meeting the Parasite writer.

Best Picture

Jane Fonda gives the director a warm hug as she presents him with the award for Best Picture.

Roar of Applause

As the acceptance speeches drew to a close, producers lowered the lights and the mic, only for stars like Charlize TheronTom Hanks and Margot Robbie to shout for them to stop. The result is one of the most heartwarming moments from the night. 

Icons

These two prove to be a fierce duo in the writers room.

History-Makers

Both men made history in their respective categories, with director Taika Waititi being the first indigenous person to win an Oscar.

This article was originally published on April 23, 2021, at 9:00 p.m. PT.

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