It’s official: Everything Everywhere All At Once isn’t just an Oscar nominee 11 times over. The deeply weird action-comedy is a frontrunner, earning nods for directors Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, costumes, original song, and cast members Michelle Yeoh, Jamie Lee Curtis, Ke Huy Quan, and Stephanie Hsu.
To fans of Everything Everywhere All At Once, this might have seemed a no-brainer. The film has garnered rave reviews since making its world premiere at SXSW last March. Since then, its momentum only grew, with fans cosplaying the characters, critics calling this one of the best films of the year, and various guilds and awards bodies praising the picture, its directors (known collectively as Daniels), and especially Yeoh and Quan, who’ve been dominating the races for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor respectively.
Ke Huy Quan is a frontrunner for Best Supporting Actor Oscar.
For Quan, the awards season narrative has been a heart-warming tale of Hollywood comeback. A former child star known for movies like The Goonies and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Quan walked away from performing when it seemed there were no roles for an Asian-American actor. He’s said publicly that the success of Crazy Rich Asians urged him to try again. And with help of his Goonies co-star-turned-entertainment-lawyer Jeff Cohen, he secured the role of lover/laundromat owner/action hero Waymond Wang in Everything Everywhere All At Once.
Quan not only thrilled audiences with his incredible fannypack-flinging performance, but also has us all rejoicing with him as he’s earned accolades from critics’ guilds as well as a Golden Globe win.
Michelle Yeoh could win Oscar’s Best Actress.
As for Yeoh, she’s been on the scene for decades (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Memoirs of a Geisha, Tomorrow Never Dies, Crazy Rich Asians), but often in supporting turns. Her award-season narrative is about finally finding a leading lady party worthy of her range. As Everything Everywhere All At Once’s flustered protagonist Evelyn Wang, Yeoh took on the role of a lifetime, not only playing a harried wife and mother, but also a world-renowned martial artist, also a singing sensation, also a soured chef who is jealous of a Raccacoonie. Under the direction of Daniels, she was given the opportunity to play comedy, drama, and everything in between with captivating sincerity.
Incredibly, this is Yeoh’s first Oscar nomination. Her chief rival in the category is Tár‘s Cate Blanchett, who is an Academy favorite, having earned 8 nominations and two wins in her career. At the Globes, Blachett won Best Actress for Drama, while Yeoh won for Best Actress in a Comedy/Musical. So, who might come out on top on Oscar night?
Jamie Lee Curtis and Stephanie Hsu face off for Best Supporting Actress Oscar.
Speaking of careers, Jamie Lee Curtis has had an incredible year, not only closing out David Gordon Green’s Halloween trilogy as her iconic Scream Queen, Laurie Strode, but also scoring acclaim as Everything Everywhere All At Once‘s chaotic tax auditor, who sometimes condescends, sometimes brawls, and sometimes has gentle hotdogs fingers. Curtis has been campaigning hard, not so much for her own Oscar glory, but for her co-stars, who she’s publicly cheered on at awards shows and on social media. This brings us to Stephanie Hsu.
The least known of Everything Everywhere All At Once‘s core ensemble, Hsu is beloved by theater kids for her stage turns in Broadway’s Be More Chill and The SpongeBob Musical. Some fans of EEAAO have been low-key furious that Curtis has been scoring so many nominations for a smaller supporting role, while Hsu has been snubbed. This was not the case at the Critics Choice Awards, where both were nominated. But they lost to Angela Bassett for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.
Stephanie Hsu scored a victory in this uphill battle for Oscar recognition.
To be frank, Hsu had a tougher battle in the nomination game because to so many, she was unknown. Award bodies tend to treasure transformation. Curtis going from the hardened heroine Laurie Strode to the barreling antagonist Deirdre Beaubeirdre is the kind of thing that gets noticed. Some have even speculated Curtis’s nominations are more reflective of an appreciation for her storied body of work than this particular role, though both are worth lauding.
By contrast, to many Hsu seemed to come out of nowhere. Yet she crushed this role of a young woman in crisis on many fronts. As Joy/Jobu, Hsu not only threw herself into a cavalcade of costumes, but also forged a heartbreakingly real portrait of a daughter, who feels unloved and unseen by her mother. and a charismatic supervillain. who is determined to destroy everything, and who can carry a haunting tune with “Sucked into a baaaageeeel.”
It seems when Hsu’s audition tape hit online, EEAAO fans weren’t the only ones who noticed how swiftly and stupendously Hsu slid into the role.
And yet, for all the success this audacious action-comedy has seen, there have been those doubting its Oscar success. Award season speculators even teased whispers that at Academy screenings for the film, there were those vocally sneering at the film. Would the traditionally stodgy Academy actually nominate a movie where there’s a battle involving buttplugs as power-ups? When the Academy has so resolutely ignored comedies in major categories for decades, did this movie and its cast and crew stand a chance? Could something this willfully weird be taken seriously? As someone who thought Daniels’ debut Swiss Army Man deserved an Oscar nomination, I was among those hoping hard this morning.
Today, we can say firmly this Academy, made up of over 10,000 members from 80 countries, has said yes to Everything Everywhere All At Once to the tune of 11 nominations!
That’s the Oscar most nominations to a single film this year, beating both The Banshees of Inisherin and All Quiet on the Western Front, which both earned 9. For context, 11 is the number of nods that Lord of the Rings: Return of the King scored. So, whatever comes Oscar night, this is a big day for Daniels and Everything Everywhere All At Once and a big deal for Asian representation in Hollywood cinema.