The wild, raucous, and whimsical 139-minute absurdist comedy, “Everything Everywhere All At Once,” took a total of seven Oscars home with it; and in doing so, marked what many might see as an “alternate universe” ending for the awards show.
To say that “Everything Everywhere…” was not the usual Oscar bait is an understatement. Although artfully produced, directed, and incredibly well-written, the movie also featured the kind of raunch and irreverence that we’ve come to expect of arthouse (and maybe even frat house) movies.
There were incredibly elaborate costumes that bordered (and completely superseded) haute couture. There was action, violence, gore, pyrotechnics, and ethereal psychedelic dreamscapes. There were…hot dog fingers (yes, just picture a pack of Ball Park franks as fingers, and…you’re there); and subtly insightful social commentary about traditional values clashing with more modern ones (including sex and sexuality). And yes, in keeping with the ethos we’ve come to expect from the Oscars: There were beautiful cinematography and tearjerker moments that hinged on the importance of family, compassion, and mindfulness of one’s superpowers (actually) AND deep shortcomings.
And, sure, there were also nods to the typical (and equally masterful) Oscars fare: The Elvis biopic received several nominations; the remake of the heart-wrenching World War I drama, All Quiet On The Western Front won 4 Oscars; and Brendan Fraiser’s The Whale (definitely considered a sure-shot in Oscars contention) won twice.
It’s the clear domination of a film that pushed Asian Americans to the forefront that captured the audience last night. As critics have mentioned in the wake of this windfall: Asian American representation has been slim to nil where the Academy is concerned, and when there is representation, it’s usually at the loss of a truly authentic Asian American experience.
“Everything Everywhere…” went after this Herculean task without apology. It’s a tale of immigration, a tale of the woes of assimilation, a tale of frustration and frustrated ideals. It’s a tale that pushes the narrative of Asian immigrants to the forefront, cosigned by Asian immigrants.
Speaking of the wins, director Daniel Kwan said: “This movie shows that Asian American cinema can be anything it wants to be … I’m very excited about the next five to 10 years. Hopefully, every single marginalized community gets this opportunity to announce themselves and be like, ‘Look, the narrative is usually this, but there’s so much more to us.”