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Korea Taps THE MAN STANDING NEXT as Official Academy Award Submission

Nov 04, 2020
  • Writer by Pierce Conran
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WOO Min-ho’s Acclaimed Political Drama with LEE Byung-hun Aims for Best International Film Nomination

WOO Min-ho’s political drama The Man Standing Next has been selected by the Korean Film Council as the country’s official entry to the Best International Film category of next year’s 93rd Academy Awards, which will take place in April. LEE Byung-hun leads the cast of the acclaimed film, which became the year’s biggest hit during the Lunar New Year holiday. Director WOO and star LEE previously worked together on the hit Inside Men (2015).

The KOFIC selection committee picked The Man Standing Next over other shortlisted contenders, which included YUN Dan-bi’s Moving On (2019) and HONG Won-chan’s DELIVER US FROM EVIL, for its historical relevance and the impressive lead performance by LEE, who is already known to US viewers from his roles in Hollywood blockbusters and is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Based on the novel of the same name, WOO’s film takes place in the late 1970s and follows the steady deterioration of the relationship between the head of the KCIA (LEE Byung-hun) and President PARK Chung-hee, which infamously ended with the former assassinating the later in 1979. The same historical event was previously depicted on screen in IM Sang-soo’s acclaimed The President’s Last Bang (2005).

The Man Standing Next, which also stars KWAK Do-won and LEE Hee-jun and was financed and distributed by Showbox, welcomed 4.75 million spectators earlier this year. LEE has been on a steady awards run in recent months, receiving Best Actor accolades from the Baeksang Arts Awards, the Buil Film Awards and most recently at the Asian Film Awards, where he previously earned the same prize for Inside Men (2015).

Despite its box office success, critical acclaim and awards success to date, The Man Standing Next may have its work cut out for it in the wake of PARASITE (2019). BONG Joon-ho’s film was not only the first Korean film to be nominated in the Best International Film category at the Oscars, but went on to make history by winning the category as well as the prizes for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Screenplay.
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