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Most people might not have imagined that Everything Everywhere All At Once, a maximalist sci-fi epic about multiverse jumping, intergenerational trauma, and existentialism that moves at the speed of the internet starring a mostly Asian cast and from the directors behind the great farting corpse movie, would dominate the Oscars when it premiered at SXSW last year (a few had the wherewithal).
But at Sunday night’s Oscars ceremony, which offered few surprises and a lot less controversy compared to last year, EEAAO’s ultimate victory lap was everything, everywhere, and happened all at once.
EEAAO walked away with seven Oscars, the most of any film nominated; All Quiet on the Western Front won the second-most awards at four in a ceremony that saw five of the 10 best picture nominees go home empty-handed. Even if you didn’t like EEAAO or were more ambivalent, it was hard not to root for the cast and crew as they went up for their victory speeches again and again and again.
Ke Huy Quan, who was forced out of the industry for 20 years because of institutional racism, brought the audience to tears. Jamie Lee Curtis, winning out in a category that could’ve gone in any direction, celebrated the genre films that made her. Paul Rogers’ editing win made viewers swoon. And Daniels (writing/directing duo Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert) took the stage multiple times, celebrating their mothers and the collective that made EEAAO possible.
The night culminated with two ready-viral moments: Halle Berry, the last woman of color to win best actress, handing Michelle Yeoh the Oscar for best actress (which could’ve landed just as badly as Anthony Hopkins winning best actor in 2021 had there been a different outcome), and a Temple of Doom reunion between Quan and Harrison Ford as the latter announced best picture for EEAAO.
Every historic victory like Yeoh’s comes with a double-edged sword: As great of a moment it was (and the live reaction from Yeoh’s mother Janet watching in Malaysia made it even more memorable), it’s a shameful reminder that only two women of color have ever won the best actress Oscar—and it took 21 years for a non-white actress to win after Berry. Let’s hope it doesn’t take another 21 years for the next one.
Why it matters
I love EEAAO’s Oscar dominance not just because it’s a movie I love (it was on our top 10 list). In many ways, it’s an exciting choice—I haven’t been this happy about a best picture winner since Parasite—and one that hopefully leads to allowing more filmmakers to tell the stories they want to with the cast they want to, even if it’s extremely out there.