Yes, 'Everything Everywhere All at Once' Deserves All 7 of Its Oscars
by Alex Billington
March 13, 2023
"You think because l'm kind that it means I'm naive, and maybe I am. It's strategic and necessary. This is how I fight." It won!! It acutally won!! I'm still not sure if it's true. Are we in an alternate multiverse? One where the best movie of the year actually goes on to win Best Picture?! No, this is reality - the world we ae all a part of, and hell yes, it really did happen. Last night at the Oscars, The Academy voted fully in favor of The Daniels' multiverse sci-fi spectacle Everything Everywhere All at Once - giving it a grand total of 7 Oscars over the course of the night. It won Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Editing, and three of the acting awards. I love this movie! It was my #1 of 2022 (here is my full Top 10) and I went to see EEAAO (as film geeks affectionately call it for short) four times in theaters last summer, but I never expected it to go on to win any Oscars. That's why this is such an amazing surprise! The amount of petty hate I've seen is ridiculous; complainers are really reaching with bullshit claims that it's one of the worst BP winners ever. 🙄 They're out of their minds. EEAAO absolutely deserves every single Oscar it won.
There is so much to celebrate with EEAAO winning. It's objectively not the popular pick (that would've been Top Gun: Maverick or Avatar: The Way of Water). It's up with there with Parasite and Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King as a righteous and beloved Best Picture winner, that everyone in The Academy (and everyone else) seems to respect and admire. It's innovative, it's entertaining, it's emotional, it's authentic. One comment from social media provides another good reminder: "After laughing my ass off and bawling my eyes out in cinemas last year it became an instant favorite. In a sea of sequels and reboots and over-funded, under-written productions with no heart or originality at all, it was such a revelation. If you still haven't watched it, for real, believe the hype." Yep. As with all subjective opinions about movies, if you don't like EEAAO, nothing I say in this article is going to change your mind. There's no way I can convince anyone to like a movie they don't like, no matter how fanciful my writing or how persuasive my sentences may be. It's certainly fine to have a different opinion, I'm just dumbfounded by how many really do not like this film.
There's plenty to love & admire about this Best Picture winner, including the Asian-American representation and the way it tells their stories. It's about an immigrant family, and their simple life running a laundromat. But their lives are so much bigger than just that, which is what the rest of the film is about. There have been many great articles written about representation already: "Why Everything Everywhere All at Once's 2023 Best Picture win means so much" by Jack Yan; "I've Waited My Entire Life For Everything Everywhere All At Once" by Laura Lai Coughlin; "Kindness is a Radical Act in Everything Everywhere All at Once" by Faye With Love; "Everything Everywhere All at Once saved my relationship with my mom" by Grace Park; "It Took Me Nearly 40 Years To Stop Resenting Ke Huy Quan" by Walter Chaw. This final piece makes some strong points. Chaw says: "Waymond is a literally-multifaceted character given a depth of complexity rare in any pursuit but almost unheard of for an Asian-American actor. [Ke Huy] Quan's overriding quality is his genuineness, his comfort with himself after so long after being cast off into the Hollywood wilderness." Yep.
In May of last year, just a few weeks after the movie had been playing in theaters, I posted an open-ended prompt on Twitter asking "what was the last film you saw that you would say was TRULY innovative?" It received a couple hundred replies and most of them singled out Everything Everywhere All at Once. Yes, it is an innovative movie, in about 20 different ways. Anyone who claims that EEAAO's multiverse framework or universe-jumping sci-fi concept is some "Marvel-like soap opera for kids" is full of shit and has absolutely no idea what they're talking about. An objectively incorrect interpretation. It's a remarkably subversive film, playing against what the Marvel movies have done and expanding the multiverse concept (which is based in reality anyway) in a brilliant way. It's the first movie that near-perfectly conceptualizes, visualizes, explains, interprets, and integrates the multiverse concept into a cinematic narrative. None of the MCU movies have been able to pull this off (they're pretty rough, to be honest) when this one has. This is high level sci-fi, and yet they manage to make it work, even explaining (in a very clear tongue-in-cheek way) how the hell a hot dog hands universe could possibly exist. This is one reason why I think it's on the same level as The Matrix.
Most of the complaints about EEAAO seem to focus on how "corny" or "dorky" it is. While I will agree that it is a very nerdy film, made by two guys who are clearly geeks (The Daniels are hilarious but also wholesome), it is not corny or dorky at all. It's cheerful and playful, it's witty and absurd, and it's not afraid of going for strange jokes and going all-out with its absurdity. Yes, that tax agent award on the desk is going to be used as a buttplug later in a fight – as a multiverse activation mechanism – because why the hell not, no one has ever done something this crazy before!! The Daniels have. And they won tons of awards for it. Brilliant!! The whole film is madly, wildly, beautifully ingenious in its creativity. I often see complaints about the swirling, multi-colored lights on their faces in many scenes. First things first, this is only a visual representation of looking across multiverses (Alpha-Waymond wears glasses with lights in them). Secondly, it's used by the directors in just the right way so as to specifically not be corny. It's not like every shot has this in it; as soon as a scene indicates they don't need this stylistic embellishment in the shot, the lights disappear. Then we're back in one reality again, following these characters in this universe. Maybe these viewers are ignoring this?
Another thing I love about EEAAO is how it's the epitome of a scrappy little indie film with a big heart made by passionate storytellers who are exceedingly smart in the ways they tell the story on camera. The repeated use of the one location (the IRS building) as if they're trapped within this tax hell, the clunky choices with regards to sci-fi tech or props (old school computers in the Alphaverse, Gong Gong's homemade wheelchair with a humidifier on it, and yes the very obvious handheld spinning lights), the repeated use of the same stunt team playing different actors throughout, is part of the charm. This is exactly what makes the first The Matrix so good, too, before the studio threw way too much money at the Wachowskis to make the sequels. This film winning is also a win for independent cinema. It's a win for filmmakers who don't have massive studio budgets, yet are ambitious enough to try any & everything to make their wild vision a reality. Every last performance, every single shot in EEAAO is composed and lit and filmed perfectly by filmmakers who have a distinctly clear sense of the film they're trying to make, it's awe-inspiring. I went so many times in theaters because watching is an experience, a deeply moving experience – the kind of cinema bliss I live for.
Many people that do love Everything Everywhere have discussed how it truly changed them: it made them reconnect with their parents, or rethink how they approach the world. Above all else – I think EEAAO is a radical film in being one of the few action films to show how kindness and love can make a difference. The final fight is actually revolutionary in the way it shows Evelyn literally fighting with kindness. Considering other BP nominees this year included a brutally realistic World War II film, a film about a musician wasting away on drugs and alcohol, a film about expensive U.S. Navy fighter jets, a film about natives of a different planet fighting militant humans, a film about many greedy rich people, and a film about two former friends hurting themselves, it is refreshing to see a film be radical with its themes of kindness & compassion. So am I overjoyed that a radical, innovative, one-of-a-kind, completely original, and groundbreaking film won Best Picture - and six other Oscars? Of course. Absolutely. I could go on and on raving about it - from Michelle Yeoh and the meta commentary from her life being worked into it, to casting Ke Huy Quan and allowing him a real-life redemption arc with an extraordinarily sensitive performance, to excellently-choreographed fight scenes that are actually fresh and inventive and entertaining to watch, to an awesome score from Son Lux that reminds me of Daniel Pemberton's remixing of his score into Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.
There's always a backlash to Best Picture winners and Oscar movies, especially in the last few years. But I'm tired of listening to so many petty, worthless, hateful, nonsensical complaints about EEAAO - most of which are a derivation of being unable to admit "this just wasn't for me." Fair enough. Everything Everywhere All at Once is a Masterpiece, yes it deserves the M word, and I will defend this until I must leave this universe for another. It doesn't deserve hate. It's one of the best Best Picture picks in modern times, instantly joining the ranks with Parasite, Moonlight, The Departed, and LOTR:ROTK as one of the most deserving, loved winners. Yes, I love Tár too, and it would've been a good win as well. But it's The Daniels year, and I'm so glad they've received all these honors (now go watch Swiss Army Man for another fun one). "The only thing I do know is that we have to be kind. Please. Be kind, especially when we don't know what's going on…"
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