In addition to India making a remarkable mark on world stage, the 95th Academy awards were significant for another reason. It was not just India’s night, but all of Asia, with ‘Everything Everywhere All At Once’ making a clean sweep of almost every award it was nominated for. Michelle Yeoh as the first Asian Best Actress winner, and only the second person of colour to win that trophy after Halle Berry in 2002 for ‘Monster’s Ball’, spoke of her Oscar as ‘a beacon of hope and possibilities’.
Everything Everywhere All at Once has dominated this year’s Oscars, winning seven awards including best picture on a big night for Asian and Asian American representation.
The manic multiverse fantasy, about a fractured family swept up in an interdimensional adventure, also delivered wins for best actress, best director, best supporting actor, best supporting actress, best editing and best original screenplay at the 95th Academy Awards ceremony held on Sunday, March 12th, 2023. It was the most nominated film of the night.
Michelle Yeoh became only the second woman of color to win the best actress Oscar, following in the footsteps of Halle Berry in 2002. “For all the little boys and girls who look like me watching tonight this is a beacon of hope and possibility,” she said, before adding: “Ladies don’t ever let anyone tell you you are past your prime.”
Ke Huy Quan was named best supporting actor for his role in the film, beating Barry Keoghan and Judd Hirsch. He is the first Vietnam-born actor to win an Oscar. “Mom, I just won an Oscar!” he said tearfully. “They say stories like this only happen in the movies, I cannot believe this is happening to me.”
The win built on the tremendous 2020 ‘Parasite’ sweep when Bong Joon Ho won the best director, and the film won both the best picture AND the best international feature film. EEAAO won seven, yes count them, Oscars. Vietnam-born Ke Huy Kwan won Best Supporting Actor, Jamie Lee Curtis, who really should have won for her breakout perf in A Fish Called Wanda ( yes, way back in 1988), finally got hers with a Best Supporting Actress, the Daniels won the Best Director: the film also picked up awards for Best Original Screenplay and Editing.
In an industry where race and representation have mostly stayed buzz words, the ‘Everything Everywhere..’ triumph feels like a shift, where people of colour are being seen and celebrated for who they are, and what they bring to the table, even if the film often feels laden with too many nods to Asians-in-America stereotypes. But what a performance from Yeoh, and a well-deserved win: there was no better film to have got this award in this year.
I’m sad that the fabulous ‘Banshees of Insherin’, a tale of two most unusual best friends buoyed by a terrific performance from Colin Farrell (an infinitely harder one to pull off as compared to Brendan Fraser’s prosthetic-laden turn in ‘The Whale’, which won the latter the Best Actor) and the gentle donkey Jenny, lost out the Best Picture to EEAAO, but I’m very happy that the latter won, won big, and won so emphatically. Thus proving that it is quite possible to be happy and sad at the same time. Now excuse me while I play ‘Naatu Naatu’ at full volume, all over again.