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Column: Netflix didn’t win best picture, but ‘Parasite’ couldn’t have triumphed…

by Ace Damon
Column: Netflix didn't win best picture, but 'Parasite' couldn't have triumphed...

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None of the three acceptance speeches that Bong Joon Ho made at the Oscars on Sunday night included a message for Netflix, which is a shame; it is hard to imagine "Parasite" winning its well-deserved and historic 92nd Oscar victories without it.

Not because, as some have suggested, the antipathy that many movie academy voters feel towards the streaming service has been reluctant to grant the greatest cinema honor to those nominated for the best Netflix series, "The Irishman" and "Marriage Story" . Netflix spent about $ 70 million on its Oscar campaigns this year, a significant amount even by Hollywood standards, which resulted in 24 nominations and two victories for the documentary "American Factory" and Laura's supporting performance. Dern in "Wedding History".

Bong certainly understands the anger that Netflix can generate among members of the academy – he made his 2017 film “Okja” with the streamer and, when it was shown at that year's Cannes Film Festival, members of the audience booed when the Netflix logo appeared in the opening credits.

"Okja" and "Snowpiercer", perhaps Bong's most universally known films before "Parasite", are currently available on Netflix, which has certainly increased the filmmaker's popularity (his other photos, including "Mother" and "The Host" , are spread across other platforms), but this is not how Netflix helped "Parasite" to become the first film to win the international feature film and the best film.

The most important thing Netflix did for "Parasite" and the art of cinema in general has more to do with television than with film. By exposing your audience to a panoply of international television programs, including, but not limited to, "Elite" (Spain), "Call My Agent!" (France), "Dark" and "Babylon Berlin" (Germany), "Kingdom" (South Korea) and "Atelier" and "Terrace House" (Japan), Netflix made Americans comfortable with subtitles.

Which, as Bong said last month when accepting his Golden Globe for foreign language films, are "the one-inch barrier" that has prevented many people from exploring the wonders of non-English cinema.

Netflix did its best to break this barrier specifically for academy voters with last year's "Roma", for which Alfonso Cuarón won in the categories of direction, cinematography and foreign language (now international), just to see the best "Green Book" " scenario. This year, the streamer received two nominations for the role of "The Two Popes".

But more importantly, the streaming service has proven that every type of person, especially young people, is not afraid of subtitles, especially when it comes with forms of stories with which they are already familiar – police procedures, workplace comedies and crime thrillers. Science fiction.

When the 2010 Danish political drama "Borgen" debuted on KCET in 2013 (two years after it was made available to some American viewers via LinkTV), it was an instant anomaly. Subtitles? In television? Later that year, the French zombie drama "Les Revenants" appeared on TV Sundance.

Netflix's first exclusive series, "Lilyhammer", revolved around an American gangster trying to find his way (and learn the correct pronunciation) from the small Norwegian town of Lillehammer. It's not a big hit, but it's big enough to launch Netflix on original content and on the international market. This required the acquisition and creation of series and films in several languages, all of which became part of the often alarming content heap that the American public (who, in some cases, had the option of an almost always inferior dubbed version).

Other television, streaming, cable and even broadcast platforms followed suit. Suddenly, subtitles were no longer the province of the art house (which was decreasing), where the public was often confronted not only with language barriers, but also with the complexities of Italian neo-realism, French New Wave, Swedish existentialism and other forms of high cinematic art. .

Powerful, beautiful, important, but not always easily accessible by a large population, many of whom seek entertainment to help them relax, "foreign films" used to be seen as a lot of work, like poetry or avant-garde theater. If you didn't understand them, or weren't looking forward to a "let me impress my date" conversation about metaphor, tone, technique or whatever, you ended up feeling stupid and whoever wants to pay cash to wind up feeling Stupid?

Netflix, more than the most beloved and enlightening film criticism or even the increasingly international composition of the film academy, proved to an increasing number of people that subtitles are not a barrier, but a bridge – for people, situations and art that may seem different, but that share the essential desire to illuminate reality through narrative. And, by the way, they are also incredibly fun.

This is the world, with all its various beliefs, social peculiarities, social customs and mores, its glorious mixture of triumphs, injustices, heroes and specific villains. That is how we, the real collective, seem to solve crimes, compete with coworkers, fall in love, betray each other, contemplate the meaning of existence and the weaknesses of the human soul.

"Parasite" is a great film, with characters, themes and actions instantly recognizable by those who have never coveted what they consider the best life of another, who has been enraged against the collective cost of social hierarchy and the forgetfulness of those. who ignores it, who has ever thought that the breach of personal rules is mitigated by a greater and indisputable injustice.

That is, everyone.

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