‘Everything Everywhere All At Once,’ an unusual favorite at the Oscars

The film, an outlandish mix of comedy and science fiction, sweeps the Spirit Awards after winning prizes from the producers, actors and directors guilds

The cast and directors of 'Everything Everywhere All at Once' at the Spirit Awards.
The cast and directors of 'Everything Everywhere All at Once' at the Spirit Awards.Jordan Strauss (Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

As Oscar night approaches, a film that goes from a Chinese laundromat to dive into multiple parallel universes is shaping up to be the favorite. It is an unexpected hit at a time when Hollywood blockbusters generally come out of the Marvel multiverse. The film community has found something special in Everything at Once, Everywhere, produced by the independent studio A24 and a hit among Generation Z.

The film, directed by the duo of Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, has ended the awards season with a bang. Its cast, of primarily Asian actors, and its tone have injected freshness and surprise into the Academy Award campaign. It is the great favorite for the March 12 ceremony, when it will compete in eleven categories: every time a film has ended the season winning the previous major prices —the ones awarded by the producers, actors, directors and screenwriters guilds— it has ended up winning the Oscar for Best Picture.

The film won big in two awards ceremonies this weekend. At Saturday’s Spirit Awards, it won seven of its eight nominations, including Best Picture, Best Direction, Best Lead Performance (Michelle Yeoh) and Best Screenplay. In 2021, Chloe Zhao’s Nomadland also triumphed at the independent awards before winning the Best Picture Oscar.

Voting for the Oscars has been open since March 2. The process will close this Tuesday. The different guilds have already given signs that indicate the success of Everything Everywhere All At Once. It has received nods from the Producers Guild of America (PGA) and the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), where film made history by breaking the record for the most guild awards with four wins. Yeoh became the first Asian to win Best Actress at the SAGs. Jamie Lee Curtis took home the title of Best Supporting Actress, and Ke Huy Quan was awarded Best Supporting Actor. The cast also received the Best Ensemble award.

Michelle Yeoh ganó el premio de actuación de los premios Spirit, entregados este sábado en Santa Mónica.
Michelle Yeoh ganó el premio de actuación de los premios Spirit, entregados este sábado en Santa Mónica.MARIO ANZUONI (REUTERS)

The story of Everything at Once, Everywhere has been full of surprises since it hit US screens last March. In it, Evelyn Wang (Yeoh), a laundromat owner, must battle an audit conducted by a cantankerous IRS official (Jamie Lee Curtis), as her family unravels over a conflict with her daughter (Stephanie Hsu). What sounds like a conventional story becomes a cinematic experience with a big twist when Wang discovers alternative universes where humans have hot dog fingers, there are talking raccoons and a bagel can destroy humanity.

Originally, the Daniels, as the Kwan and Scheinart duo are called, wrote the lead role for a male. They first offered it to Jackie Chan, the legend of martial arts cinema, but the directors later changed the part to focus on a mother. Thus it fell into the hands of Yeoh, a 60-year-old actress who has led a long career in Hong Kong action cinema and who came to the United States in 1997 to make Tomorrow Never Dies, one of Pierce Brosnan’s James Bond installments.

The film premiered at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, an unlikely starting point to win the Oscars. It has at its center a message about the importance of family. It became the first A24 studio film to surpass $100 million at the box office.

A social hit

The team knew how to capitalize on their success off the screen. Fans have shelled out $36 for latex gloves with hot-dog fingers, sold by the production company. Last week, the company raised half a million dollars for charity by auctioning off pieces of the set. The top-grossing item was the Raccacoonie raccoon puppet, voiced by singer-songwriter Randy Newman.

The Daniels have been innovating since filming 2016′s Swiss Army Man, in which Daniel Radcliffe plays a corpse who befriends a man (Paul Dano) on a deserted island. The multiverse of Everything Everywhere All At Once gave the fictional characters unlimited opportunities, and the same has happened with members of the cast. Ke Huy Quan, who co-stars as Wang’s husband, had retired from the industry decades ago, despite the fact that he was a child actor with roles in The Goonies and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. He is the favorite to win the Oscar for best supporting actor. Jamie Lee Curtis is the biggest question mark heading into Academy Awards night. Her category, best supporting actress, is one of the most competitive: the favorite is Angela Basset, who won the Golden Globe for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. But Curtis, 64, walked away with the SAG award, which brings her closer to Oscar glory. In an emotional speech, the actress known for the the Halloween saga remembered her parents, Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh. Despite being the daughter of two industry giants, it took an irreverent sci-fi film for her to earn her first Oscar nomination in a career of more than 40 years.

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