When Bong Joon-ho's tragic comedy thriller "Parasite" debuted at Cannes and won the Palme d'Or in May last year, nobody anticipated that the South Korean film would contend for best picture and five other awards at the 92nd Academy Awards nine months later.
But the Korean auteur's seventh feature film about have-nots infiltrating a wealthy family has created strong buzz throughout the U.S. awards season and become a massive hit since its stateside release in October.
It is nominated in six categories at this year's Oscars: best picture, best director, best screenplay, best editing, best production design and best international feature film.
It will be a history-making event if "Parasite" wins an award at the Oscars on Sunday (local time) as no other South Korean film has even been nominated for an Oscar despite Seoul's booming movie industry and international successes.
Many news outlets in and outside the US expect that "Parasite" will bring home at least one Oscar statuette -- that for best international feature film, previously known as best foreign-language film. It is the clear front-runner over "Corpus Christi" from Poland, "Honeyland" from North Macedonia, "Les Miserables" from France and "Pain and Glory" from Spain.
For best picture, "Parasite" is competing with eight other films including "1917" by Sam Mendes, "The Irishman" by Martin Scorsese, "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood" by Quentin Tarantino and "Joker" by Todd Phillips.
As the Oscar race reaches its final stage, the grand prize category has narrowed to a battle between "Parasite" and "1917," a World War I movie with 10 Oscar nods, after they shared major guild awards in January.
"Parasite" won at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, the Writers Guild Awards, the Eddie Awards of the American Cinema Editors and the Art Directors Guild Awards, while "1917" took home prizes from the Producers Guild Awards and the Directors Guild of America Awards.
Those guild awards are considered strong indicators of the Oscars as their members and the membership of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) largely overlap.
But winning the Oscar's renowned best picture award may be a long shot as a foreign-language film.
So far, only nine subtitled flicks have been nominated for the best picture section and for best foreign-language film at the same time, including Ang Lee's "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" (2000) and Alfonso Cuaron's "Roma" (2018), with none winning.
Last season, "Roma," the winner of best foreign-language film, seemed poised to win the best film award after earning 10 nominations, but "Green Book" took the honor.
The best director section is considered another "Parasite" vs. "1917" showdown between Bong Joon-ho and Sam Mendes.
Alfonso Cuaron of "Roma" was the only awardee to win the title with a non-English language film, while Taiwanese filmmaker Ang Lee, the sole Asian winner, was named best director two times -- for "Brokeback Mountain" (2006) and "Life of Pi" (2013).
"Parasite" is also expected to be named best screenplay on the back of its victories at the Writers Guild Awards and the British Academy Film Awards.
In addition, editor Yang Jin-mo and production designer Lee Ha-jun of "Parasite" are strong candidates for best editing and best production design as they won awards at the Eddies and Art Directors Guild last month.
South Korean experts hope "Parasite" will bring home at least two Oscar titles.
"On top of best international feature, I think 'Parasite' will be given either best picture or best director, and one other among best screenplay, best editing and best production design," said a film critic, asking not to be named. (Yonhap)