The promisingly international future of the Academy Awards

Parasite may not win Best Picture. It'll still be the 2020 Oscars' biggest story.

Oscar statuettes.
(Image credit: Illustrated | Jason Merritt/Getty Images, Library of Congress)

In the 90-year history of the Academy Awards, 554 movies have been nominated for Best Picture. Among that number have been timeless classics (Casablanca, The Godfather, Schindler's List) and a whole lot of best-forgotten duds (Crash, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Green Book). What's truly incredible, though, is that only 11 foreign-language movies have even been nominated to compete for Best Picture since 1929 — and none have ever won.

That last point may or may not change this year. Parasite's momentum has been meteoric; a class satire by South Korean director Bong Joon Ho, the film won the Cannes Film Festival's highest honor ("the Bong d'Or") this past spring, topped over 45 critic and website year-end lists, and to date has grossed over $24 million in the United States, with a higher per-venue average than Avengers: Endgame. On Monday, it earned six Oscar nominations, including Best Picture — although prognosticators still chalk it up as something of a dark horse against Golden Globes-winners Once Upon A Time ... in Hollywood and 1917. Whether or not Parasite makes history next month, though, its half-dozen nominations alone make it evident that the Oscars are increasingly looking abroad for the year's best films.

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