IIt’s a testament to how far Hollywood has come in recent years that an action-sci-fi comedy about a stressed-out Chinese-American immigrant who must save the multiverse is leading the Oscar race with 11 nominations and is favored to win. best picture — a position bolstered by its Screen Actors Guild win on Sunday. The Academy likes prestige serious dramas; Everything Everywhere All at Once is anything but. It’s a ridiculously silly, outrageously hilarious, and deeply weird fantasy. And that’s exactly why it would be a worthy winner.
Made on a relatively modest budget of $25 million by directing duo Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (collectively known as the Daniels), the surreal martial arts adventure seemingly came out of nowhere to become one of the biggest box office triumphs of the pandemic years. It’s increasingly rare these days indie films to become commercial successes, but Everything Everywhere All at Once has grossed over $100 million worldwide thanks to good old-fashioned word of mouth, with many fans returning to the theater for multiple showings.
In an industry clogged with endless comic book adaptations, sequels, prequels, and spin-offs, it takes guts, a feverish imagination, and a lot of wide eyes to create something genuinely amazing. Where else would you see a love scene staged with plump hot dog fingers? Or fight sequences using a giant butt plug and fanny pack as weapons? Or a lofty philosophical idea like nihilism represented by an enormous spinning bagel?
Some critics have complained that it is confusing and overwhelming. But there are more new ideas in Everything Everywhere All at Once during its two-hour, 20-minute runtime than there were last year in the rest of Hollywood. I hope Academy voters realize that we need to applaud this kind of innovation.
All of these ideas would be dismissed as mere gimmicks if the film lacked any heart, and that’s something Everything Everywhere All at Once has in buckets. If you take away the stunning visuals, multiversal battles and spectacular martial arts choreography, it all boils down to a wholesome, universal story about family and the healing power of love and kindness.
Michelle Yeoh’s Evelyn is so mired in her failing laundry that she’s estranged from her husband Waymond (Ke Huy Quan) and daughter Joy (Stephanie Hsu). The film follows their attempts to reconnect. As an exploration of generational trauma, the weight of regret and the meaning of life, it is genuinely moving.
During his acceptance speech at Gothams for Best Picture, Kwan revealed that fans have been sharing their own trauma stories with directors after screenings. Clearly, this is a movie that resonates with audiences on a deep emotional level.
Then there are the presentations. As the story revolves around a woman who has been overlooked and ignored, you can sense that Yeoh, a bonafide action superstar who often has to play second or third fiddle on her Hollywood outings, knows that it is finally her time. to shine. As she inhabits all the different versions of Evelyn in the parallel worlds, she offers a phenomenal, multifaceted turn that is fierce, goofy, and empathetic.
The 60-year-old Malaysian star became the first artist of Southeast Asian descent to be nominated in the best actress category, and Yeoh could be on course for a historic win. Only Cate Blanchett, who earned a nod for her performance as a power-hungry regent in Tar, stands in her way.
Quan, a former child star who took a break from acting because of a lack of decent roles for Asian actors, is just as remarkable and dynamic as Evelyn’s husband Waymond. Having bagged awards at most of this season’s major awards (and given the most touching and moving acceptance speeches), he is favored to win the best supporting actor Oscar, which would crown his astonishing return.
Her co-stars Hsu and Jamie Lee Curtis, who are competing against each other for best supporting actress, are in a less secure situation. But even if they don’t win, I can’t wait to see Curtis in cheerleading mode like she was at the Golden Globes, celebrating Yeoh’s win for best actress in a musical or comedy.
There’s nothing quite like Everything Everywhere All at Once on the best movies list. My only concern is that this could be considered too bizarre and over the top to warrant a win. I wouldn’t be surprised if Academy voters decide to play it safe, opting for something cozy and familiar like The Fabelmans. But what a shame that would be.
If it takes home the prize, it will be a resounding victory for original thinkers and original stories. Everything Everywhere All at Once illuminates the immigrant experience with boldness, creativity and passion. Deserves that Oscar and many more on the night.