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Will 2020 Sundance’s Grand Jury Winning Film ‘Minari’ Make It To 2021 Oscars?

Writer-director Lee Isaac Chung’s Minari had its world premiere at Sundance earlier this year and soon it became the talk of the festival after it won both the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award in the U.S. Dramatic Competition.

(Photo source: Scene from the movie 'Minari')

The plot parallels Lee’s personal life as the story depicts his own upbringing in the 1980 and the life of a first-generation Korean immigrant family that uproots from metropolitan Los Angeles to rural Arkansas to achieve the American Dream. Starring Steven Yeun, best known for playing Glen in "The Walking Dead", and his chilling performance in Cannes Competition title 'Burning', he is casted as dad/husband while Han Ye-ri as mom Monica, son David as Alan S. Kim and daughter Anne as Noel Kate Cho. Veteran actor Youn Yuh-jung plays the grandmother, Soon-ja, who comes to America to support Jacob's family.

(Photo Source: The photo of main casts members and the director)

The film follows the family as the dynamics change in their new household and environment, when their not-typical American grandmother moves in with the family - among many other things, she doesn’t know how to bake cookies. Much of the film is shot in native Korean language, and because of that genuine nature of how this family communicates with one another is a nice touch added here that most immigrant stranger-in-a-strange-land American movies wouldn’t do, reviewed by Pete Hammond.

The name of the movie actually originated from a foreign plant known in Korean as Minari—which is also known in English as Chinese celery. And through the eyes of Jacob, it shows the dreams of transforming his five acres into a farm full of Korean fruits and vegetables, thus the audience will also experience how difficult it is to be an immigrant to start a new life in America.

Unlike 'Crazy Rich Asian' which stressed heavily on successful American Chinese, Minari have brought in a breath of fresh air by including the other representation of immigrants that are not mainstream in the Hollywood films. Faced by the uncertainty and challenges of this new life in the rugged wilderness, Minari tries to illustrate the immigrant experience through a fresh perspective of a resilient family.

It is also noteworthy that if any of the “Minari” actors are nominated, it will be the first time the Academy has nominated any Korean performers in an acting category. As Asian representation in the acting categories has been one of the ill-favored stains in the Academy’s long history. If nominated for best actor, Steven would be the first Asian American to ever be recognized in the category.

(Photo Source: Minari Poster)

Since its Sundance debut, Minari appears to be a strong contender for the 2021 Academy Awards. It feels like the ‘Parasite’ sweeping several major categories was just like yesterday, here comes the Sundance winner match which tells a warm and gentle story of a Korean family with a strong universal message. This year’s Academy Awards are scheduled for April 25, and nominees will be announced on March 15. As it is being released in the midst of a pandemic, Minari seems like a film that offers reassurance that there is always light at the end of the tough time.