Admit It, Parasite is the Best Film of 2019

By Ankit Verma

Mailed on February 03, 2020

Dear Fellow Critics,

Like the bossman Christopher said in his opening line for why Jallikattu is the best film of 2019, “We all know putting a film at the top of your personal list has more to do with activism than criticism.”

And he’s right.

My nomination for Parasite as the best film of 2019 is heavily driven by all the things that make a movie great (acting, set design, cinematography, themes, etc.). But, the real reason is far greater than mere technical merit. It’s activism embodied.

Whether you prefer Jallikattu, or Little Women, or Six Underground (I respect your decision, Di)—it doesn’t matter. Parasite doesn’t have to be your favourite movie of 2019 but it deserves to be.


Well, in case you didn’t notice, people fought about everything in 2019. Flame wars have existed since online comment sections were a thing, but I feel like 2019 was the year where every minutiae was a hill to die on. The film community was especially vocal with battle lines being drawn over topics like:

“There are no more original stories…”

“Movies are too predictable nowadays...”

“Independent theatres are dying…”

“There aren’t enough minority-driven narratives…”

Et cetera, et cetera.

The simple act of watching a movie has become volatile and it sucks, both as a viewer and a critic—and that’s where Parasite comes in.

Despite what the name suggests, Parasite isn’t an infection—it’s the cure. It’s the cure to petty squabbles, blockbuster fatigue, arthouse segregation, adaption frenzy, and so much more.

Parasite lives to subvert expectations. It takes what we think we know about the state of cinema and challenges it through sheer, impeccable craftsmanship.

“There are no more original stories…”

Parasite is a completely original story. It’s not based off a book or a comic nor is it an adaption of an existing film/TV show. It’s not a retelling of a historical event or a biography about a key figure. The only inspiration comes from Director Bong-Joon Ho’s own experience as a tutor for a rich family. It’s the type of campfire storytelling audiences have been craving for years. A simple life experience which sparked an idea which came to fruition in the form of a feature-length film.

It’s inspiring when you think about it. What stories do we have that can grow into something more? It’s silly to think that anyone can be a master filmmaker like Bong-Joon Ho just because they spent a summer as a lifeguard but if creating stories is your passion, take Parasite as an inspiration that your story is unique and worth telling.

“Movies are too predictable nowadays...”

The recurring theme in every Parasite review is how unpredictable the movie is. It’s arguably the biggest selling point and for good reason. Parasite’s unpredictability doesn’t come from a shocking twist ending or a misdirection. It comes from its unique ability to jump from one genre to another in such a seamless fashion, it feels organic. How does a film start off as a family comedy, transition into a heist thriller, plunge into a horror, rope in elements of a disaster flick, and then come out the other side as a poignant, somber drama?

The answer? I don’t know! For all intents and purposes, a movie that swaps genres to this extent clearly has narrative issues. Yet, in the hands of Bong-Joon Ho, the chaos is wrangled into submission. Like a herder dog rounding sheep back into their pen, Parasite lives to establish order from disarray.

As someone who watches his fair share of movies, I walked into Parasite with a chip on my shoulder. My arrogance thought it could figure out the Palme d'Or-winning hype train before the credits rolled. All I can say is, I have never been so happy to be humbled in my life. Any inkling I had about where the plot was going was a dead-end. After a while, I gave up guessing and let myself be consumed by this weird, wonderful film.

“Independent theatres are dying…”

There is no denying, independent theatres are closing in cities around the world. There are a number of factors in play; large chains, streaming, a lack of marketing and promotion. It’s sad but once again, here comes Parasite to instill hope. Anytime I’ve been to a screening at an independent theatre, I can walk in five minutes before showtime and find a seat, no problem. In Parasite’s case, I had to wait in a line that stretched far outside the main entrance. Then, I had to grab one of the last seats available in the front-most row. Had I arrived 10 minutes later or grabbed popcorn before finding a seat, I would have been turned around at the gate.

Not only was the theatre full, it was teeming with a diverse crowd of different ages, races, and genders coming together to watch a South Korean film with subtitles. You have to admit, that line sounds like a pipe dream in 2019. It sounds like the logline for an Oscar bait film itself.

Movies have target audiences and there is nothing wrong with that. Everyone deserves a form of entertainment they can call their own. Yet, it’s the mass appeal of a foreign, indie darling that is truly shocking.

To quote the top YouTube comment in this video, “When was the last time a foreign director came on a late night show to promote his movie? That’s how big it is.”

Big indeed. That video, if you didn’t click the link, is Bong-Joon Ho and his talented interpreter promoting Parasite on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, the epicenter of mainstream blockbuster media in the states. Reminds me of another South Korean phenomenon that forced its way onto America’s main stage through sheer hype.

“There aren’t enough minority-driven narratives…”

Which brings me to the most sensitive of arguments plaguing Hollywood in 2019...death to the straight, white man!

This point riles me up because I am afraid that Parasite will lose out at the Oscars to self-indulgent rallying cries like Once Upon a Time in Hollywood or The Irishman that serve to stroke the egos of older Academy voters rather than create content that is new, refreshing, and worthy of praise…but I digress.

I think I’ve mentioned a few times that Parasite originates from South Korea but there is another aspect about the film that doesn’t get the recognition it deserves. Parasite is virtually split down the middle in male and female representation. For every male actor, there is a female counterpart who carries equal weight to the overall story.

So-dam Park is by far the craftiest of the bunch. Hye-jin Jang is the muscle. Jeong-eun Lee turns the tide and Yeo-jeong Jo is the pillar.

Like Bong-Joon Ho said when accepting his award for Best Foreign Language Film at the Golden Globes, “Once you overcome the one-inch-tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films.”

If I learned anything about film in 2019, it was that cinema is currently going through a transformation at the moment. It’s evolving to cater to a new generation which is making older ones feel isolated and forgotten and newer ones attacked for liking what they like. There has been a lot of commotion, discord, and negative energy. But, if there is a film in 2019 that bridges the divide between old and new, shatters preconceived notions of what is or isn’t happening to cinema, and operates on its own wavelength, you better believe it’s Parasite.

Infectiously yours,


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