The inevitable victory of “Everything everywhere everything at once”

The once unlikely Oscar contender had his fairytale ending.


There was a moment in the middle of tonight’s Oscars when I started getting alarming texts from friends. Their line of inquiry was the same: It was All quiet on the Western Front is it going to cause a major upset for Best Picture? The German World War I film, distributed by Netflix, had amassed a string of technical victories, and a ceremony that had begun with a burst of jubilant energy seemed to be headed for a more raucous, old-fashioned direction. Fear not, I assured every worried friend: Everything Everywhere Simultaneously would win big.

Indeed, a riotous, baroque sci-fi action flick full of martial arts, crude humor and multiverse smacks dominated the 95th Academy Awards, taking home seven trophies — the most for a Best Picture winner ever Slumdog Millionaire in 2009. Everything Everywhere Simultaneously secured the top prize, capping a wild awards season for a film that came out nearly a year ago and defied most of the usual formulas for an Oscar campaign. But the film had built steam from its heartfelt storytelling and box office success at a time when theaters were still struggling to recover from the COVID shutdown. It also produced landmark moments, most notably Michelle Yeoh’s win for Best Actress in a Leading Role, the first Asian performer to win in that category and only the second woman of color.

The former, Halle Berry, presented Yeoh with the trophy in a satisfying TV moment that Oscar producers probably hoped for when they arranged for him to replace Will Smith as host (the previous year’s winners traditionally present these categories, but Smith is barred from watching the Oscars for 10 years). Overall, the show went smoothly, avoiding the surrealism of 2021’s small-scale, COVID-affected ceremony and the dizzying chaos of 2022, which was overshadowed by Smith slapping Chris Rock on stage. This year, producers Glenn Weiss and Ricky Kirshner went traditional, bringing back a single host and, unlike last time, airing each award live.

The ceremony that followed was long, but not unusually so, and the spectacle familiar. Audiences witnessed many hosannas for the power of cinema and the thrill of the collective viewing experience. Jimmy Kimmel, in his third game as host, was his reliable self, keeping the pattern light with just a few acid jabs. More importantly, it provided a sense of structure that has been sorely lacking in recent years. Although Kimmel’s monologue lamented the absence of Tom Cruise (his film Top Gun: Maverick was nominated for Best Picture, but is reportedly busy filming) Everything Everywhere quickly emerged as the story of the night – no surprise given the way it swept the upfront film awards.

The night began with two major wins for the film: The endlessly cheerful and open-hearted Ke Huy Quan, a former child star who had mostly retired from acting in the early 90s due to a lack of opportunities, won Best Supporting Actor and gave a happy speech His co-star Jamie Lee Curtis, an industry member who had just received her first nomination of the year, followed by a Best Supporting Actress award.

But then the ceremony bounced between technical awards, song performances and montages (including a particularly outrageous piece about Disney’s upcoming Little Mermaid remake) and the energy started to wane. All quiet on the Western Front won four awards, mostly in categories that Everything Everywhere did not compete, conveying the impression of momentum for a gloomy work with a familiar title (another All quiet won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1931). But just as my interest flagged, things picked up again, thanks in part to Lady Gaga’s performances (singing “Hold My Hand” from Top Gun) and Kaala Bhairava and Rahul Sipligunj (perform RRRof ‘Naatu Naatu’).

RRR won Best Song, the first Indian film to do so, and Sarah Polley Women talking slightly surprised All quiet in the Adapted Screenplay category. Then it was a rush to the end, with Everything Everywhere won for Direction (going to Daniel Scheinert and Daniel Kwan), Actress and Picture, after also winning the Original Screenplay award. The whale was the only other multiple winner of the night, collecting a make-up and hairdo award along with a lead actor trophy for Brendan Fraser, who looked deeply overwhelmed by the moment. It was another comeback story after years in the Hollywood wilderness and the crowd’s excitement was palpable.

His strangeness Everything EverywhereHis path to victory has already been widely reported. Its release in March 2022 makes it the first release of the year to win Best Picture since then Silence of the Lambs in 1992, disproving the notion that a film has to come out in the fall or later to get Oscar attention. It’s a dense and challenging piece of genre storytelling for an awards body that has long resisted giving big trophies to such works. And it’s a breakthrough for Asian and Asian-American performers, who have been under-recognized throughout Oscar history. But the Academy Awards reflect how the industry is changing, even if the speed at which it’s happening can be painfully slow, and the sight of Yeoh, Quan and Daniels collecting their trophies clearly signaled a thunderous, triumphant shift.

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