Everything Everywhere All at Once, a low-budget production by independent studio A24, dominated the 95th Academy Awards, winning seven Oscars on Sunday night, including Best Picture, Best Director and three acting prizes.
The film, an off-kilter tale of an immigrant family contending with intergenerational conflict, financial strain and a threat that travels through multiple universes, outperformed two blockbusters that have been credited with reviving the pandemic-stricken movie industry, Top Gun: Maverick and Avatar: The Way of Water.
Everything Everywhere cost a reported $25mn to make and has earned about $108mn.
The film’s success marked a historic moment for Asian actors in Hollywood. Michelle Yeoh, who was born in Malaysia, became the first Asian woman to win the Oscar for Best Actress for her performance, defeating Cate Blanchett for her highly touted performance in Tár.
Yeoh, 60, began her career performing in Hong Kong martial arts films with Jackie Chan before moving on to wider-release features including the James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
“For all the little boys and girls who look like me watching tonight, this is a beacon of hope and possibilities,” Yeoh said in her acceptance speech.
Ke Huy Quan, a Vietnamese-American actor, won the Best Supporting Actor award for his role in the film, while Jamie Lee Curtis picked up the prize for Best Supporting Actress.
Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert won Academy Awards for Best Director as well as Best Original Screenplay, topping such cinema luminaries as Steven Spielberg for the autobiographical The Fabelmans, Irish playwright and film-maker Martin McDonagh for The Banshees of Inisherin and Todd Field for Tár.
Everything Everywhere also won the Best Editing award, rounding out its tally of seven prizes on 11 nominations.
The Oscars took place against the backdrop of controversy at last year’s ceremony, when Will Smith stunned the world by slapping comedian Chris Rock onstage, prompting withering criticism of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Since then, it has undergone a leadership change, with new chief executive Bill Kramer and academy president Janet Yang pledging to revive a programme that has been plagued by declining ratings and complaints about its length and the diversity of its nominees.
This year’s show clocked in at about three and half hours, shorter than some in the recent past.
The other big winner of the night was All Quiet on the Western Front, a German war epic from Netflix. The film took home four awards: Best International Feature Film, Cinematography, Production Design and Original Score.
The Best Actor award went to Brendan Fraser, who played a 600lb recluse in The Whale.
Navalny, a portrait of jailed Russian dissident Alexei Navalny during his recovery from nerve agent poisoning, was named Best Documentary Feature.
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