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Why Bong Joon Ho actually won three Oscars this year, not four

Bong Joon Ho collects one of his three or four Oscars
Who’s counting? South Korean director Bong Joon Ho collects one of his either three or four Academy Awards for “Parasite” during the 92nd Oscars.
(Mark Ralston / AFP/ Getty Images)

When does accepting four Oscars in a ceremony not equal tying the record of winning four Oscars in a night?

When one of those Oscars actually belongs to a country, not to the filmmakers.

The 92nd Academy Awards certainly seemed like the Bong Joon Ho show, with the revered South Korean filmmaker of “Parasite” taking the stage no fewer than four history-making times to collect the Oscars for best picture (as producer), director, original screenplay (he co-wrote it with Han Jin Won) and international feature.

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However, the academy’s Rule 13. D. 3. governing international features states, “The Academy statuette (Oscar) will be awarded to the film and accepted by the director on behalf of the film’s creative talents. For Academy Awards purposes, the country will be credited as the nominee. The director’s name will be listed on the statuette plaque after the country and film title.”

And the academy confirms that, technically, director Bong scored three historic Oscar wins. The country of South Korea is the credited honoree for the international feature prize.

Bong and the film set many records Sunday night. Bong and Han’s screenplay win was the first ever for Asian writers; the international feature win was South Korea’s first as a nation (on its first ever nomination); Bong’s director prize was the first for an Asian filmmaker for a work in a foreign language (Ang Lee, who has won twice, was the category’s first Asian winner); the best picture win was the first for a foreign-language film.

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Bong joins nine other individuals who have won three Oscars for one film in one night: James L. Brooks (“Terms of Endearment”), James Cameron (“Titanic”), the Coen brothers (“No Country for Old Men”), Francis Ford Coppola (“The Godfather Part II”), Alejandro González Iñárritu (“Birdman”), Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh (“The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King”) and Billy Wilder (“The Apartment”).

But the official record for most wins by an individual at one ceremony still belongs to Walt Disney. He collected four statuettes at the 1954 ceremony, for short-subject cartoon (“Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Bloom”), documentary feature (“The Living Desert”) , documentary short subject (“The Alaskan Eskimo”) and live-action short subject, two-reel (“Bear Country”).


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