Inside the 2019 Los Angeles Film Critics Awards: How ‘Parasite’ Won


Bong Joon Ho’s dark social satire “Parasite” emerged as the big winner from the Los Angeles Film Critics Assn. vote on Sunday, winning three awards, including cinematographer and director and an award for supporting actor Song Kang Ho. Pedro Almodóvar’s “Pain and Glory” won the foreign language film award and the film award. actor for Antonio Banderas, while Mary Kay Place took home actress honors for “Diane” and Jennifer Lopez won supporting actress honors for “Hustlers.”

Times critics Justin Chang and Glenn Whipp, who are members of the LA organization, sat down to discuss the results and what they say (or not say) about the state of awards season.

GLENN WHIPP: Before leaving the house this morning, Justin, I violated a long-held superstition and tweeted a poll asking which movie should win our Best Picture award this year. I offered three choices. All were “Parasite”. So, yes, I was showing my hand.

I’m obviously thrilled with today’s vote, not just for the “Parasite” wins…although I’ll start there. In a year that delivered some great cinematic treasures, including “The Irishman,” “Pain and Glory,” “The Farewell,” “Little Women,” “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” and “Uncut Gems” ( I could go on), it’s not certain that a favorite film will make its way through LAFCA’s long and winding voting process and win its two top honours.

But “Parasite” is a special movie, a career best effort from Bong, which is saying a lot for a filmmaker who has always delivered so many great films (“Okja”, “Snowpiercer”, “Mother”, “The Host” and “Memories of Murder”) during his career. Like so many other films this year, “Parasite” examines the divide between haves and have-nots, a chasm present the world over and particularly pronounced in Bong’s native country of South Korea.

He did it in a way that demonstrated Bong’s supreme mastery of storytelling, starting with a hilariously funny satire, then morphing into a disturbing thriller and, finally, a heartbreaking family story. I loved a lot of movies this year. But “Parasite” was the one that was closest to my heart. And I couldn’t be happier that he prevailed today.

JUSTIN Chang: Since you started with a confession, I’ll offer you one: Although I’m generally averse to publicly campaigning for films and performances, I attended our LAFCA meeting. wearing my “Bong d’Or” T-shirt – a beautiful swag piece of clothing distributed by Neon commemorating Bong’s Palme d’Or win at Cannes earlier this year. (I wore it under another shirt, though, hoping it might work its magic as a lucky talisman or super suit.)

You and I have been writing a lot of gushing lyrics about “Parasite” for months now, Glenn. We are, of course, just two of the approximately 45 active voting members of LAFCA, a group that also includes Times staffers Geoff Berkshire, Mark Olsen, Kenneth Turan and Jen Yamato and frequent contributors Robert Abele, Carlos Aguilar, Charles Solomon and Katie. Walsh, most of whom attended Sunday’s meeting. Even still, I was thrilled but not surprised that so many of our colleagues shared our enthusiasm for “Parasite,” and I should note that other review groups were equally enthusiastic. As of this writing, Bong’s film has won Image and Directing awards from the Toronto Film Critics Assn., Atlanta Film Critics Circle, and New York Film Critics Online. I suspect the list will be even longer before the end of the month.

It’s wonderful — and still too rare among the various award-winning bodies — to see a film produced in another country win prizes other than a foreign language film. (It should be noted that at least half of LAFCA’s competitive prizes went to international productions.) Which is not to say that it was in any way a slow year for American cinema – far from it! There was widespread love in the room for Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time…In Hollywood” (LAFCA winner for production design) and Noah Baumbach’s “Marriage Story” (our choice for the screenplay) and, well, of course, the wonderful “The Irishman,” who was our runner-up for Picture, Director, and Supporting Actor, but didn’t win anything.

Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci star in “The Irishman,” Martin Scorsese’s new drama about hitman Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran (De Niro) and his role in the disappearance of labor leader Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino).


WHIP: “The Irishman” won the New York Film Critics Circle’s top prize a few days ago, which I guess might provide some consolation. The New York group, which traditionally votes a few days before us, made a number of excellent choices, and I wondered how we might react. Faced with an array of possibilities, critics often like to go their own way. I was happy to see us endorsing Antonio Banderas, who anchors “Pain and Glory” with a subtle twist of stunning grace, as well as cinematographer Claire Mathon. New York critics honored her for “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” by Céline Sciamma. We doubled down by adding his magnificent work on “Atlantics” by Mati Diop.

Other New York winners also came close to snagging us awards – Joe Pesci (“The Irishman”) finished second for supporting actor and Lupita Nyong’o (“Us”) finished second. behind Mary Kay Place in the lead actress. Place’s award for a relatively underexposed indie film seemed to confuse some people who believe movie review groups exist solely to help get the attention of Oscar voters. It’s a fundamental misunderstanding of our mission, yet we hear it every year. Just look at our story in the single lead actress category. Does a group that selects Isabelle Huppert (“She”, “Things to Come”), Charlotte Rampling (“45 years old”), Yoon Jeong-hee (“Poetry”) and Kim Hye-ja (“Mother” ) really seems to be the one who cares about the whims of the film academy?

A real treat in our annual vote, Justin, is the commitment to thinking outside of awards season campaigns and acknowledging the nuanced gender work that Place delivers in “Diane.” As the film ends, Place takes you on a deep journey with the main character, every step true and haunting.

CHANGE: It’s both amusing and depressing to watch the outpouring of confusion, shock and contempt from online awards watchers who apparently didn’t even know “Diane” existed until yesterday, let alone the fact that the remarkable film by Kent Jones featured one of the great performances of the year. Hopefully some of them will be made to stop bitching and watch this fucking stuff – and I’m not just talking about the academy voters; I mean moviegoers in general.

I’ve always been struck by the recurring phenomenon of LAFCA and other review groups being attacked online for the elitist snobbery of their supposedly out-of-the-box picks. To accuse us of snobbery, I think, makes the whole situation wrong; defending work that falls outside of the usual awards season conversation, informed by the fact that we spend 52 weeks a year watching and writing about new movies from around the world, seems to me like a pretty good definition of the egalitarianism in action.

Isn’t it more snobby, really, to expect us to stick to a pre-approved checklist of Oscar hopefuls? Incidentally, this checklist consistently and conveniently overlooks great horror-thriller performances like Nyong’o’s in “Us,” as well as great non-English-speaking film actors like Zhao Tao in “Ash Is Purest White.” ” and Gabriela Cartol in “The Chambermaid”, to name two performers who drew several LAFCA votes on Sunday.

And of course, that’s not even counting the love in the room for films as different as “Give Me Liberty”, “1917”, “Uncut Gems” (Adam Sandler, we tried), “Waves”, “Dolemite Is My Name, “Little Women,” “Luce,” “Ford vs. Ferrari” and “Les Miserables” in multiple categories. The system encourages consensus, sure, but consensus rarely captures an accurate snapshot of wealth and wealth. diversity of the film year.

Glenn, if there was one award you would have liked to see happen – for any film, in any category – what would it be?

'Little woman'

Florence Pugh, Saoirse Ronan and Emma Watson in Greta Gerwig’s ‘Little Women’.

(Wilson Webb/Columbia Pictures)

WHIP: After all the triumphs of “Parasite”, I feel hungry to ask for more. And yet… I’m sorry we couldn’t put Greta Gerwig’s moving adaptation of “Little Women” among the winners. It came in third for both picture and director, and won love for its writing, score, production design, and acting (especially lead Saoirse Ronan and actress support Florence Pugh). I watched it a second time last week, and the ending gutted me in the best possible way. I think audiences will love it when it arrives at Christmas.

And you, Justine? What was your biggest regret of the day?

CHANGE: I’ll also empathize with you for “Little Women,” Glenn, and I’ll also raise my glass to Joanna Hogg’s “The Souvenir” with its soulful love story and beautifully matched lead performances from Honor Swinton Byrne and Tom Burke. Although recently named best film of the year by British film magazine Sight & Sound, it’s the kind of delightfully observed, piercingly sad chamber piece that may seem too sedate to garner major accolades. I can’t wait to see the director’s next film, especially because it will be a sequel to “The Souvenir”. I also can’t wait to get a Joanna Hogg t-shirt, stat.


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