Director: Bong Joon-ho
Stars: Song Kang-ho, Lee Sun-kyun, Cho Yeo-jeong, Choi Woo-shik, Park So-dam
Studio: CJ Entertainment

No film has taken us through more surprises and more suffering this year than Parasite. Writer and director Bong Joon Ho’s unforgiving look at class inequality is one of the most thrilling and haunting stories this year. Seemingly a film about one family’s manipulation of another, Parasite is an unflinching microcosm of capitalism’s ability to pit the multiples tiers of the working class against each other, driving them to commit acts of cruelty for the unselfish sake of survival while the wealthy elite rest on, and benefit from, their endless struggles. 

We watch the Kim family’s stealthy infiltration into the Park family’s household with voyeuristic delight and quasi admiration—they’re finally crawling out of the grip of poverty through sheer wit and determination. We root for them to escape their basement apartment and their claustrophobic neighborhood with the hopes that they will reach the laurels of the middle class. But, of course, the moment that we feel that those dreams are palpable, the film takes a sharp turn into a surreal nightmare, spiraling into a struggle between families almost literally pushing each other down in the quest to move up. The desire to reach the top of the socioeconomic pyramid inextricably thrives on the existence of an overwhelming lower tier. Parasite a masochistic societal portrait fueled by a rage and desperation that can only lead to a devastating ending, but one that’s rooted in brutal reality. —Andie Park