Genre-defying ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’ stole the show at the 95th Academy Awards


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Sarah Bergin, Arts Editor

History was made at the 95th Academy Awards with a diverse group of nominees being represented. Due to the backlash that the Academy received last year for cutting awards such as Best Editing and Production Design from the roster, they worked to include all categories in this year’s televised broadcast.

Shortly before the event began, there was a sudden switch in the presentation order. This alteration put Animated Feature Film first, confusing the audience. Although it was subject to change, viewers didn’t expect this to happen an hour before the event began.

Host Jimmy Kimmel took the stage as soon as the event started, playing on the box office hit “Top Gun: Maverick” by coming down from the ceiling in a parachute. He primarily focused on wordplay to drive the humor for his jokes, referencing the movies and their nominees.

The infamous incident between Will Smith and Chris Rock at last year’s event was front-and-center, with Kimmel making multiple references to the “slap” throughout the event. He also reassured audience members that enhanced security was in place if a similar event occurred. “Seriously, the Academy has a crisis team in place,” Kimmel announced, “if anything unpredictable or violent happens during the ceremony, just do what you did last year: nothing… Maybe even give the assailant a hug.”

The night’s first award went to “Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio.” The stop-motion film was in tight competition with “Puss in Boots 2: The Last Wish” and Pixar Animation Studios’ “Turning Red.” Del Toro’s win marked the second time in a decade that the Animated Feature Film award went to a production company not affiliated with The Walt Disney Company or Pixar.

Fan-favorite “Everything Everywhere All at Once” was a frontrunner with seven wins out of 11 nominations. With Michelle Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan and Jamie Lee Curtis’s awards, it became the first film to obtain three acting awards since “Network” in 1977.

Yeoh made history as the first Asian woman and second woman of color to be awarded Best Actress. She stated, “For all the little boys and girls who look like me watching tonight, this is a beacon of hope and possibilities. This is proof that… dreams do come true.”

“I really wanted Michelle Yeoh to win; she is an extremely talented actress,” University senior Julia Miller said. “This is huge for representation and the Asian community and it’s only the beginning… There is this space for female figures that play roles of mothers [and] Michelle showed just how important those roles are, how much range you can have and that no matter who you are or where you are or how old you are, you can be a superhero for your community, yourself and the audiences around the world.”

Quan accepted the Best Supporting Actor award with an emotional speech, dedicating it to his mother. “My mom is 84 years old, and she’s at home watching. Mom, I just won an Oscar!”

He continued, “Dreams are something you have to believe in. I almost gave up on mine. To all of you out there, please keep your dreams alive.”

Curtis proclaimed that she was, in fact, “all of us” during her Best Supporting Actress speech, referencing Ariana Debose’s performance at the BAFTAs: “I know it looks like I am standing up here by myself, but I am not, I am hundreds of people… To all of the people who have supported the genre movies that I have made for all these years… we just won an Oscar together!”

Discourse quickly spread about the decision to give the award to Curtis instead of nominee Stephanie Hsu for her role in the same film. “I don’t think Curtis was necessarily undeserving, she was great in the movie, but Hsu was definitely more deserving. Her role made such an impact on the film and her performance was out of this world,” University senior Leigh Bauer said. “I’m sick of the ‘oh she’s young, she has time’ take because a young actress is capable of winning an award.”

“Everything Everywhere All at Once” Directors Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert accepted three Oscars, including Best Director, Best Original Screenplay and Best Picture awards for their film. Coined as “the Daniels,” both directors have worked closely together on music video direction for songs such as DJ Snake’s and Lil Jon’s 2013 hit single “Turn Down for What” before making feature films.

When accepting the Best Director award, Scheinert said, “We want to dedicate this to the mommies, all the mommies of the world, to our moms. Specifically, my mom and dad, Ken and Becky, thank you for not squashing my creativity when I was making really disturbing horror films… or dressing in drag as a kid, which is a threat to nobody!”

Due to Smith’s absence, the Academy had to find a new presenter for Best Actor, breaking the tradition of the successor passing down their legacy. The award went to Brendan Fraser of “The Whale” in a cut-throat competition. From Colin Farrell’s role in “The Banshees of Inisherin” to Austin Butler’s portrayal of Elvis in the titular film, cinephiles have seen this award as a toss-up ever since its nominations were announced.

Gaining two awards, “The Whale” has more wins than director Stanley Kubrick does in total, which received criticism from IndieWire reviewer David Ehrlich on Twitter. Alongside Best Actor, “The Whale” also took home the accolade for Best Makeup and Hairstyling.

“All Quiet on the Western Front” also secured awards with four wins, including Best Original Score. The Netflix feature film received high viewership in North America before the ceremony while being labeled in the Best International Feature Film and Best Picture categories, similar to the critically acclaimed film “Parasite.”

“RRR” received “Best Original Song” amidst fans’ dismay at the film not being nominated for Best Picture. The cast’s performance of “Naatu Naatu” captured audiences alongside Lady Gaga’s performance of “Hold My Hand” from “Top Gun: Maverick.” However, it has been reported that the “Naatu Naatu” performance contained little to no South Asian performers and, considering the anti-imperialist themes present in “RRR,” has drawn severe backlash.

Other films that did not make much of an appearance on Sunday night include Park Chan-wook’s “Decision to Leave” and Charlotte Wells’s “Aftersun.” While “Aftersun” did receive a Best Actor nomination for Paul Mescal’s performance, the film received radio silence throughout the event.

The 95th Academy Awards were a showcase of career-defying comebacks. Yeoh preached, “Ladies, don’t let anybody tell you [that] you are ever past your prime.” As Yeoh encouraged the audience, it became clear that she wasn’t backing down anytime soon. With a television adaptation of the graphic novel “American Born Chinese” premiering May 24 on Disney+, it is likely that “Everything Everywhere All at Once” co-stars Yeoh, Quan and Hsu will be coming after the Emmy’s next year.