Sarah posted her review of Minari yesterday, the film I consider to be the best of 2020, well deserving of its multiple SAG nominations last week (including Best Ensemble, the SAG equivalent of Best Picture) and it should be a contender at the Oscars. Minari’s writer-director Lee Isaac Chung also won Best Screenplay from the Toronto Film Critics Association this week. Minari opens on Friday which is Lunar New Year. You know what also starts streaming on Friday on Netflix? To All The Boys: Always and Forever, the third and final installment of Lara Jean Covey’s story. And currently on Netflix you can also catch up on Bling Empire and/or a huge library of East Asian content this weekend. There’s romance, there’s reality, there’s drama, there’s high and low culture, prestige and also mindless fun. This is the ultimate goal of representation, isn’t it? To show the widest possible range of stories?
To go back to Minari though, Youn Yuh-jung was named Best Supporting Actress by the Washington Area Film Critics Association this week, making it her 21st Best Supporting Actress title this award season by critics boards, including the LA Film Critics Association – and in any other year, if there was another actor, especially one from the west, picking up that many awards, they’d be considered not just a frontrunner but a lock for an Oscar nomination, if not the actual Oscar. But I don’t know that “YJ”, as she prefers to be called, is getting the hype that we’d normally see if there was an artist with this many accolades. The other day I naïvely texted Sarah all like, she’s gonna take it, right? And Sarah, in typical Sarah fashion, checked my hopes, and she’s right; after all, she was not nominated for a Golden Globe. The Globes don’t predict Oscars, necessarily, but they do influence nominations and contribute to the buzz around award season. And YJ isn’t on their radar. Or on a lot of people’s radar. Even though Youn Yuh-jung has been called the Meryl Streep of Korea, a comparison she rejects, as she told the LA Times:
“One correction: I’m not Meryl Streep. I’m Yuh-jung!”
She’s right, she’s not Meryl Streep, although she is revered in Korea the way Meryl Streep is revered in the west, just within a wildly different star system. Meryl Streep, for example, isn’t headlining popular reality series which is what YJ does in Korea. That’s actually why I’m so familiar with her – because I’ve watched every episode of Youn’s Kitchen seasons one and two and the current Youn’s Stay which is still airing in Korea. In Youn’s Kitchen, YJ and a couple of other Korean celebrities go overseas to run a Korean pop-up restaurant. In season one they went to Indonesia. In season two they were in Spain. And it’s not like they’re just sitting around while non-celebrity employees do the work. They do the work! All the work! From the cooking to the serving to the everything. In the second season, YJ and her team were joined by Park Seo Jun, one of the biggest actors in Korea right now. If you need a western equivalent, I’d say Jake Gyllenhaal, and Park Seo-jun is also part of the Youn’s Stay cast right now, which features YJ, him, acclaimed actress Jung Yu-mi, and also Parasite’s Choi Woo-shik running a B&B in Korea (since they can’t travel).
That’s what I mean about the Korean ecosystem! The people visiting that B&B coming from other countries are being served by some of Korea’s biggest stars! Can you imagine hitting up an inn in the US and having Meryl Streep, Jake Gyllenhaal, Amy Adams, and Timothee Chalamet taking your breakfast order and asking if you need fresh towels?! And then maybe, a few months later, reading on the internet that the woman who poured your coffee went on to win an Oscar?!
No jinx. First YJ needs the nomination. And she deserves it. You’ll see when you watch Minari. You’ll see how f-cking good she is.
Here’s the trailer for Youn’s Stay. There are no subtitles but you don’t need to understand what they’re saying. All you need to see is these major celebrities hustling in the kitchen, carrying people’s luggage, and doing the work. And remember, this isn’t just for a day. They did this for weeks!
Yours in gossip,