Several observers (including this one) had already compared this year’s Oscar race to the 1960s, when movies like ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ and ‘The Graduate’ upended traditional Hollywood notions of meaning, substance and good taste. . “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” directed by Daniel Scheinert and Daniel Kwan, both in their thirties and collectively known as the Daniels, possessed the similar contours of a cultural disruptor: bold, unapologetically indulgent, a pastiche of formal influences and reminders. which managed to feel both superficial and philosophically deep. He won seven of the 11 Oscars he was nominated for, including Best Picture, Best Director, Original Screenplay, Editing and three acting awards.
Filmed and edited in 2020 – amid the ructions of the covid pandemic, the Trump administration and outrage over the murder of George Floyd – ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’ eerily captured and expressed the chaos of its era, and its embrace of dislocation and contingency resonated particularly poignantly with young viewers, whose lives now feel like a confusing A/B test that will end in either a bright or a disastrous future. Its pop culture grammar was tied in too: as Steven Spielberg referenced ‘The Greatest Show on Earth’ and John Ford in ‘The Fabelmans’, against whom ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’ competed for Best Picture , the Daniels were referring to animated films, Marvel comics, martial arts films, video games, and Spielberg himself. (Ke Huy Quan, who won the Oscar for his supporting performance in “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” made his screen debut at the age of 12 in “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” from Spielberg.)
In grumpier quarters, some skeptics have actually compared “Everything, Everywhere, All At Once” to “The Greatest Show in the World,” despite it being one of the world’s worst top earners. Oscar history. And it’s true that the film’s anarchic, endlessly iterative style and unkempt structure (editor Paul Rogers coyly admitted in his acceptance speech that this was only his second film) turned many people off. who went to see him out of curiosity. But for those who gravitated to “everything, everywhere, all at once”—often returning more than once to unravel its Easter eggs and hidden meanings—it fit the zeitgeist. After making a stellar debut at the South by Southwest film festival last year, the film played and performed, eventually earning over $100 million worldwide and remaining in select arthouse theaters for nearly a year.
The fact that “Everything Everywhere All at Once” swept the Oscars on Sunday night has already animated a devoted group of detractors, who see its success as the end of cinema as we know it. But they can be reassured by the other big winner of the evening: “All Quiet on the Western Front”, the poignant and deliciously rendered remake in German of the best film of the 1930s by Edward Berger, won four Oscars: for the best international feature film, cinematography, production design and original score. If “Everything Everywhere” represented an annihilation of once-sacred norms and traditions, “All Quiet” represented an unwavering fidelity to formal elegance and narrative fundamentals, which Berger executed with crisp precision and jaw-dropping expressiveness.
Along with several of their fellow winners, “Everything Everywhere” and “All Quiet” also exemplified the growing internationalization of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which only recently recognized the reality that film is a medium world, inside and outside of Hollywood. . Indian film “RRR” won best song for “Naatu Naatu,” whose live performance provided a feeling of elation in an otherwise safe and stable TV show. It was the second India-based production to win an Oscar: earlier in the series, the documentary short “The Elephant Whisperers” became the first. Like recent predecessors such as “Roma” (from Mexico), “Parasite” (South Korea) and “Drive My Car” (Japan), “All Quiet” competed in both the International Feature Film and better pictures. This year, Swedish filmmaker Ruben Östlund moved up from the international feature category (in which his previous films “Force Majeure” and “The Square” were nominated) to best picture for his cosmopolitan social satire “Triangle of Sadness.” When she became the first Asian-born lead actress to win an Oscar, veteran Michelle Yeoh joined recent winners such as Bong Joon-ho, Chloe Zhao and Yuh-jung Youn to portray an academy whose membership is now more than 20% international and growing. .
The success of “Everything Everywhere” and “All Quiet” also proved the value of a rock-solid Oscar campaign. Independent studio A24 broke its own record on Sunday night, becoming the first company to win all six top Oscars (Brendan Fraser won for his lead performance in “The Whale,” an A24 production). It came as no surprise to anyone who had paid attention to A24’s rise to prominence since its inception in 2012, when it embarked on a trajectory of making smart, innovative films by forward-thinking authors. and brilliantly cultivate their dedicated following. The company has also become an awards juggernaut, creating quietly effective campaigns for contenders like “Lady Bird,” “Room” and “Minari” and winners like “Moonlight” and, now, “Everything Everywhere.”
Netflix, which distributed “All Quiet”, has become its own awards season juggernaut, aggressively vying to become the first streamer to win the Best Picture Oscar (that honor went to Apple TV Plus last year, along with “CODA”). As the cast and directors of “Everything Everywhere” threaded their charming way through the parties, luncheons, guild awards and in-person screenings that precede the Oscars, the team behind “All Quiet” subtly underscored the This film’s dedication to pure craftsmanship, as well as its anti-war message – timely in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and a stark contrast to such bellicose competitors as “Top Gun: Maverick and “Avatar: The Way of Water”.
In their own way, “Everything Everywhere” and “All Quiet” succeeded in generating the kind of goodwill that is essential when it comes time for Academy members to vote. Paraphrasing Maya Angelou: You might forget what someone says, but you’ll never forget how they made you feel. On the surface, the two big winners of the night couldn’t be more different. But “Everything Everywhere” and “All Quiet” both had passionate bands that their teams identified, activated and developed with superb skill. In the case of “Everything Everywhere,” a base audience of cultists grew into a critical mass of voters who privately might have been confused or even alienated by the film’s self-indulgent excesses, but who couldn’t resist. to the likability of stars Quan, Yeoh and Jamie Lee Curtis, and the goofy humanism of the Daniels.
Whether “Everything Everywhere” ends up resurrecting the American film or heralding its demise, there’s no denying that it’s a film that has met its hour. For better and for worse.