The biggest surprise of the night at Sunday’s Screen Actors Guild Awards—or I guess you could say the only surprise—was Parasite‘s big win. The cast of the South Korean black comedy snagged SAG’s top honor: Best Ensemble Cast for Chang Hyae-jin, Cho Yeo-jeong, Choi Woo-shik, Jung Hyeon-jun, Jung Ziso, Lee Jung-eun, Lee Sun-kyun, Park Myung-hoon, Park So-dam, and Song Kang-ho. In SAG terms, that’s tantamount to Best Picture since the guild only hands out accolades for acting. Still, it isn’t necessarily a great predictor for Best Picture at the Oscars.
In the SAG Awards’ 25-year history, Parasite is the first foreign-language film ever to win for best cast of a motion picture. While Parasite is the highest grossing film ever to come out of South Korea and the recipient of six Oscar nominations including Best Picture, not one of its actors had been part of the conversation for any American acting awards. By comparison, Alfonso Cuarón’s Spanish-language drama Roma garnered various noms for its top actresses last year.
“To be honored with the Best Ensemble Award, it occurs to me that maybe we haven’t created such a bad movie,” star Kang-ho Song (who played the family patriarch) joked during the cast’s acceptance speech. Clearly the film’s a favorite among actors: the cast got not just one but two standing ovations.
But with every branch of the Motion Picture Academy voting (i.e. not just actors), what will this mean at the Oscars? Parasite will certainly win Best International Film, but the big prize could also go its way in an awards season that isn’t quite shaping up how everyone might have expected it would a few months ago. (The Irishman and Marriage Story have yet to walk away with many big prizes.) As the Los Angeles Times puts it, “The Parasite win offers the movie’s loyal followers a measure of hope that it can make history again and become the first foreign-language picture to win the film academy’s top prize.”
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