As the Oscars came to a close, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awarded its top prize to the longtime frontrunner — and one of the unlikeliest winners in years — when “Everything Everywhere All at Once” took home Best Picture.
The film beat out “All Quiet on the Western Front,” “Avatar: The Way of Water,” “The Banshees of Inisherin,” “Elvis,” “The Fabelmans,” “TÁR,” “Top Gun: Maverick,” “Triangle of Sadness,” and “Women Talking” for the honor. Its ability to triumph over many more conventionally Oscar-friendly films is a testament to both the film’s quality and the changing nature of the Oscar race.
Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert’s multiverse saga eschewed the typical award season strategy, premiering at SXSW last March instead of waiting for a strategic fall release. But genuine grassroots enthusiasm and overwhelmingly positive reviews allowed the indie blockbuster to go wire-to-wire and win the top prize after spending nearly a year at the front of the pack.
“In creating a multiverse so wide that even the greatest of miracles are reduced to mere statistical inevitabilities, Daniels have made something truly special: A movie that celebrates the infinite possibilities of its medium by finding a measure of I wouldn’t trade it for the world beauty in every permutation,” IndieWire’s David Ehrlich wrote in his review following the film’s SXSW premiere. “A movie that reconciles the smallness of our lives with the infinity of their potential. A movie that will forever change the way you think about bluetooth, butt plugs, and Brad Bird — about everything bagels and everything else. This may not be the only universe there is, but it’s the only one we’ve got. But if we’re able to see it clearly, there’s an outside chance it might just be the only one we need.”
The win marked the end of a massively successful award season for “Everything Everywhere All at Once.” In addition to its Oscar haul, the film won the top prizes at the Directors Guild of America Awards, the Screen Actors Guild Awards, the Writers Guild of America Awards, and the Independent Spirit Awards. By the time Oscar voting closed last week, a strong showing for the A24 film felt like a near certainty.
But the predictability doesn’t change the historical significance of the win. The cast and crew have always been open about the fact that the film’s Oscar campaign holds outsized importance for those who want to see more Asian representation in Hollywood. The fact that Yeoh and Quan dominated award season as older Asian actors only added to the sense that this was the kind of trajectory-altering moment that doesn’t come around every year.
“It’s been joyous, but at the same time, [there is] the sense of responsibility or the stress [when fans] come up to you and say, ‘You are doing this for us,’” star Michelle Yeoh recently told IndieWire. “I swear to God I was thinking, ‘What if I didn’t get nominated?’ A year ago, you didn’t even think about it, and then suddenly you’re thinking, ‘Please, please, please get me nominated. Please just get me nominated.’ And then you are thinking, ‘If I don’t get nominated, all these people will be so goddamn disappointed.’”
Yeoh went on to say that she hopes films like “Everything Everywhere” change the culture to the point where it no longer feels like an event when Asian people contend for major awards.
“That it would start being a normal thing. That it doesn’t look like, ‘Oh my God, there’s four Asians being nominated!’ Does that mean there’s too many of us? I definitely hope that’s not the case,” Yeoh said. “Our filmmakers, especially our community, are generous enough and they understand how we need to embrace each other — and continue to do so.”
“Everything Everywhere All at Once” is the second A24 film to win Best Picture, following 2017’s “Moonlight.” The indie distributor continues to punch above its weight as it competes against deep-pocketed studios and streaming services each award season. The company also produced Kwan and Scheinert’s 2016 debut feature “Swiss Army Man,” and recently signed the directing partners to a first-look deal to develop TV projects. The Daniels have both said that they are happy to have A24 as a home for their creative projects moving forward.
“We don’t really love meetings,” Scheinert told IndieWire in an interview at SXSW last year. “Just having a home is kind of a comfort.”