Another year of cinema has passed, which means it’s time for our second annual Golden Cages awards, the only end-of-the-year awards program featuring everyone’s favorite actor as a screaming statuette! Over the next two weeks leading up to the Academy Awards, we at Flixist will be announcing our winners across seventeen different categories for what we consider the best achievements in film in 2019. Why do we wait so long into the year to do this? Because we can! So sit back, relax, and enjoy the awards.
I’ve long contended that film is one of the best ways to look back into the past to get a glimpse of what it was like at the time the film was written and released. Whether it be paranoia from cold war science fiction, burgeoning hope in the post-war era, as bad as it is, the coked-up frenzy of 80’s and 90’s action flicks. So what defines our generation? One could say something that revels in post-truth, but I feel like if you were to ask writer/director Bong Joon-ho, he would say with resounding confidence that class is what defines this generation. Having written a science fiction treatise on the subject years ago, this year he wrote (and directed) an absolute generation-defining movie with his class-thriller Parasite.
I went into Parasite knowing next to nothing about it. All I knew is that it was the talk of the site and it was recommended heavily to me by two of those whose movie opinions I hold dear to me. Never in my wildest dreams could I imagine what awaited me. At times the story of a down-and-out family trying anything to make it through this modern era of disproportionate wealth was heart-breakingly relatable, at times roaringly funny, but most of all it was pointed and precise.
There were times where I wondered if the Kim family was going to be able to continue their scheme against the Parks. But like all great thrillers, the rug came out from underneath us at precisely the right time to truly disorient us for the final act, and what a final act it was. While it may have skewed a little into hysterics, the ultimate payoff was unrelentingly tragic as everyone including the audience lost something along the way. The final monologue still haunts me, even months after I walked out of my theater into a shopping center filled with families who could have all been Parks themselves.
It’s also a testament to the writing that each of the characters felt human and never really skewed into a caricature. Despite the fact that the Kim’s were doing morally questionable things just to get by, they never were painted as malicious. Sprinkled throughout were little glimpses of remorse and regret in the words and actions of the parents that spoke to a life of struggle.
I do hope that one day a movie like Parasite isn’t needed to illustrate the problem of a widening class gap, but in 2019 it was absolutely needed. Parasite came out at the perfect time to say something important and it handled that responsibility with deftness and care. For that we award Bong Joon-ho with the most important award he’ll ever get, The Golden Cage.