Everything Everywhere All At Once, and the Gen X Oscars
One, I’m delighted that it won, it was my favorite film of the last year, and more widely, it was the most “this story could only be done as a movie” movie of 2022, so a win at the awards that are meant to celebrate the singular nature of the medium is pretty great. And I’m especially delighted by Michelle Yeoh’s Best Actress win. She has been terrific in so many things for so long.
Two, I’m also delighted that we’re in a place in the multiverse where a film like this – indie, genre, Asian, immigrant and queer – could win. Not too long ago, this film would have nailed the Film Independent Spirit Awards (and, in fact, did), but would have been kept to a couple categories (mostly technical) at the Oscars at best. Here in 2023, a film like this wins seven Oscars, including three acting categories. Good job, multiverse!
Three, by being its own weird and authentic self, this film stands as a rebuttal to the wave of racist, nativist and homophobic hate that’s sweeping this country, packaged as politics. As Ke Huy Quan suggested as he picked up his own Oscar, after having been away from acting for 20 years, this is the American Dream. It’s a far better American Dream than the one so many right-wing politicians and professional propogandists are trying to shove the country toward, in their own fear and hate and ambition.
Four, hey, Academy, give James Hong an honorary Oscar next year, okay?
Beyond but including EEAAO, this felt like a real Gen X Oscar night: Quan, Michelle Yeoh, Jamie Lee Curtis and of course Brendan Fraser are either part of or icons beloved by that generation. This is not to take away from the Millennial-ness of Daniels (who won screenwriting, directing and producing awards, damn), but the night was infused by the pasts of these actors in particular, who Gen X grew up seeing in The Goonies and Encino Man, and in Indiana Jones and slasher films, and in Hong Kong action films that felt like secret knowledge until, suddenly, they weren’t. There was also the fact that these actors were all ignored, minimized or underestimated for large portions of their career, which, well. Feels pretty Gen X, too. I did not expect this collection of actors to ever hoist their Oscars in triumph, much less on a single night. It’s, again, delightful. I’m glad to have been able to see it.
(Edited to add: Oh! And! Sarah Polley! Screenwriting award! GenXer! Who also did a stint as an actress in formative Gen X films and came back on the other side of the camera! Hooray!)
The only miss for me on Oscar night this year is that my pal Pamela Ribon did not get the statuette for her terrific animated film My Year of Dicks. But you know what? She was in the room, and appreciated and celebrated all the way into that room. As someone who was nominated for a major industry award several times before getting to go up on the stage to hoist it and thank people, I can tell you being in the room is a win in itself. I’m pretty confident she will be back. I will cheer for her again when that happens.