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'Parasite's Historic SAG Award Win Is A Really Big Deal & Here’s Why

The Screen Actors Guild Awards is possibly the most niche of all the televised events of awards season. It's a union event where peers vote on their peers, much like the Producers Guild, the Directors Guild, the Costumes Designers Guild, etc. But unlike it's fellow Guild Awards, this event, which is one of many bellwethers for the Oscars, gets televised. On the one hand, it's a bit inside-baseball. On the other, it can have outsized consequences when something significant happens, like Parasite's historic SAG Award win.

Parasite is the year's "little movie that could" feel-good story. Made by South Korean director Bong Joon-ho, best known before this for the movie Snowpiercer, it's been hailed as the film of the year ever since it was shown at Cannes in the spring of 2019. The film took home the coveted Palme d’Or, making it the first South Korean film to land such honors, and the first film since 2013's Blue Is the Warmest Color to win by a unanimous vote.

Now it's made history again, as the first Foreign-Language film to win a marquee SAG Award, by taking home the award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture. It beat out a high-profile set of fellow nominees too, including expected favorites like The Irishman and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, along with the critical hits Bombshell and Jojo Rabbit.

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The "Ensemble" categories are what set the Screen Actors Guild apart from such other award shows, giving the Guild a chance to recognize both TV and films where there isn't necessarily a single star. (Game of Thrones and Downton Abbey, for instance, both won this category for TV multiple times.) But for the film side, it can be viewed as a stepping stone towards serious consideration for Best Picture.

But Bong Joon-ho was not so quick to predict this means victory at Hollywood's upcoming biggest night. He's already done his best to temper expectations, including pointing out that the Oscars heavily favor American-made films. (It's "very local," he joked.) When asked backstage what this meant for the Oscars, he replied (via translator):

It is true that the momentum is building, and we are a part of the awards race, but I think today was truly important as these actors were acknowledged by fellow peers and that’s the greatest joy of this night. With regard to the Oscars, no one can predict what will happen.

Parasite is currently up for a total of six awards at the Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best International Feature Film. The 92nd Academy Awards will be held on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, airing at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.