Arts & Entertainment Editor
The Golden Globes has done it again; it excluded a critically-acclaimed American film from the Best Picture – Drama category. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association completed its review of film submissions for the Golden Globe Awards on Tuesday. Variety learned that Lee Isaac Chung’s Minari would not be considered for Best Picture – Drama. Instead, it would be considered for the Best Foreign Language Film category because the dialogue is primarily in Korean. However, this isn’t the first time the Golden Globes has excluded highly praised films from the esteemed Best Picture category (shocker).
Last year, Lulu Wang’s The Farewell was shut out of the Golden Globes Best Picture category because Mandarin was the language primarily spoken. So was Bong Joon-Ho’s Parasite, one of the most critically-acclaimed films (with Korean as the primary language) in the U.S. last year. Parasite went on to win Best Picture at the 2020 Oscars. Wang took to Twitter to react to Minari’s snub: “I have not seen a more American film than #Minari this year. It’s a story about an immigrant family, IN America, pursuing the American dream. We really need to change these antiquated rules that characterizes American as only English-speaking.” Film critic David Ehrlich tweeted, “an intrinsically american film about people in america navigating what it means to be american while surrounded by a bunch of other americans in real deep america. but far be it for me to question a sacred institution that’s about to nominate THE PROM for Best Picture.” The U.S. doesn’t have an official language, so why are the Golden Globes acting like English should be what considers a film “foreign?”
As if the situation couldn’t get more controversial, A24, an American entertainment company, produced the film. It’s the sad reality of award shows, and the hypocrisy is astounding. A film must have 50 percent of its dialogue in English or else it’s disqualified from the Best Picture category. However, in 2009, Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds was nominated for Best Picture even though around 70 percent of the film’s dialogue was in German and French. In 2007, Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Babel was selected even though four different languages were spoken. If the foreign languages that are spoken are eurocentric, then they get a pass. However, putting films like Minari in the Foreign Language film category is exceptionally damaging to Asian-Americans.
I’m a fourth-generation Japanese woman, and I’ve struggled with my identity my entire life. I’ll never feel American enough to be in the U.S., but I’ll always be considered American in Japan. I’ll never forget that when I cut my hair short in high school, the first comment I got was, “Wow, you look more Asian.” Navigating my identity struggle has been hard but also highlights why these narratives are so important. Maybe, in some way, these films can shed light on the Asian-American experience and give us representation that I never saw a lot of growing up. When Crazy Rich Asians was released in 2018, director John Chu said that his goal was “to start a movement for greater Asian-American representation in Hollywood.” That goal won’t happen overnight or even two years but will make progress with films like Minari getting considered for Best Picture – Drama. Putting Minari in the Best Foreign Language Film category just affirms that I’ll always be regarded as foreign in my own home country no matter what. It doesn’t matter that the film is set in Arkansas, or that it has an Asian-American director (who was born in the States), or that an American company produced it, or that it’s about the American dream. As long as the film has 50 percent of non-English dialogue, then that’s the driving force (according to the Golden Globes).
However, while the film may not be considered for Best Picture at the Golden Globes, Steven Yeun (the star of Minari) could become the first-ever Asian-American Nominee for Best Actor at the Oscars. The HFPA will officially announce the Golden Globe nominees on Feb. 3, 2021. Minari is set to be released on Feb. 12, 2021. Let’s hope that the HFPA changes its mind and reconsiders Minari’s nomination to more accurately reflect the human landscape of the USA.
Featured Photo Courtesy of A24