A movie with fanny-pack-styled kung fu about a middle-aged woman filing her taxes steamrolled blockbusters (“Top Gun: Maverick”) and Spielberg (“The Fabelmans”) alike, winning 7 Oscars Sunday night out of a total 11 nominations.
“Everything Everywhere All at Once” took an early lead at the Oscars Sunday night, with Ke Huy Quan and Jamie Lee Curtis taking home statues for best actor and actress in a supporting role, respectively.
In the second hour of the awards show, Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert were awarded the Oscar for best original screenplay. Shortly thereafter, Paul Rogers won for best film editing, the Daniels won for best director, Michelle Yeoh held on to take best actress, and then finally, best picture.
If “Everything Everywhere All at Once” — nominated for a leading 11 Oscars and already a winner with the predictive producers, actors and directors guilds — wins best picture, it will be one of the most anti-Oscar bait winners ever.
From the second Quan’s win for best supporting actor was announced, there were tears.
Presenter Ariana DeBose choked up while reading the name of the “Everything Everywhere All at Once” actor, and Quan was emotional throughout while delivering a rousing acceptance speech.
“My journey started on a boat. I spent a year in a refugee camp,” Quan said. “Somehow, I ended up here on Hollywood’s biggest stage. They say stories like this only happen in the movies. I cannot believe it’s happening to me. This – THIS – is the American dream.”
The tears and cheers continued moments later as Curtis was also presented with her first Academy Award statue.
“My mother and father were both nominated for Oscars in different categories,” said Curtis, whose parents were actors Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh. “I just won an Oscar.”
Filmmakers in Awe Over Rise of “Everything”
They dreamt up universes of hotdog fingers, googly-eyed rocks and “Raccaccoonie.” But Kwan and Scheinert, in this world or another, never imagined the kind of runaway success “Everything Everywhere All at Once” would have on the Oscar trail.
Since the film’s debut at SXSW last year, the filmmaking duo known as the Daniels has been living in what has sometimes felt to them like a parallel dimension. They never expected that their madcap multiverse tale would take them to The Oscars. They still, sometimes, don’t believe it.
“It feels like we’re in our movie sometimes,” Scheinert says. “At some point we’re going to get pulled out of this joke and be back to our own lives and be like, ‘Oh, wouldn’t that be cool? Too bad.'”
Getting creative has been part of the Daniels’ method since they first met while studying film at Emerson College in Boston. Kwan, a Massachusetts native, and Scheinert, from Alabama, started off making music videos and shorts. Their feature film debut, 2016’s “Swiss Army Man,” starred Daniel Radcliffe as a flatulence-emitting corpse.
“Everything Everywhere All at Once” is just their second feature. The Daniels are each 35.
The unexpected success — the A24 release has grossed more than $100 million worldwide against a $14.3 million budget — has thrown off the trajectory the Daniels imagined they might be on. In a recent, rare lull between awards ceremonies, they spoke by Zoom from Kwan’s home office. He apologized for the mess, a disorder that reminded him of their film.
However many Oscars “Everything Everywhere All at Once” ultimately wins — it won’t be a bagel — it’s clear to Kwan that nothing will ever be quite the same after their unexpected lurch onto Hollywood’s highest stage.
“I’ve gone through so many cycles of euphoria and depression and manic episodes,” Kwan said. “I’ve realized that I’m never going to get to back to my old life. That struck me at one of my low points and I had to actually mourn the loss of our lives. That can be both incredible and sad at the same time.”
When “Everything Everywhere All at Once” landed in theaters, it ignited the specialty film business after two years of pandemic, driving moviegoers back to art houses and becoming A24’s biggest box-office smash. But even then, awards talk was mostly farfetched. It wasn’t until the fall, when it won best film at the Gotham Awards that the buzz started to get real. Affection for the film just kept building. Early naysaying that the film was too strange for older academy voters has proved wrong.
Scheinert wryly recalls telling cast and crew on set: “We’re not making an Oscar movie here. This movie is about quantity, not quality.” And yet, by a twist of fate, a movie made without any thought of The Oscars is set to conquer them.
At a time when Hollywood’s main studio product is in franchises, remakes and sequels, “Everything Everywhere All at Once” is also a movie brimming with originality. (This is the first Oscar year two sequels, “Maverick” and “Avatar: The Way of Water,” are nominated for best picture.) A vote for “Everything Everywhere All at Once” is a vote for something different.
“There’s something really important about stretching your own imagination in your everyday life. We create these narratives about ourselves and then we accidentally get trapped in them often,” says Kwan. “I grew up with a lot of self-doubt and self-loathing. The fact that I’m now a director who’s been able to find some success is just such a narrative-shattering, imagination-stretching idea that I would have never been able to imagine a few years ago.”