Taking Everything All at Once: Oscars 2023 Roundup
March 14, 2023
The Oscars of 2023, hosted by Jimmy Kimmel's very safe hands, has been a much less fraught event than the One Punch Man-dominated brouhaha of last year. Still, the event still managed to squeeze in jokes, a donkey, a bear that probably did cocaine, the ever-present awkwardness, and, of course, some very grateful winners.
Leading up to entertainment’s biggest awards night, more and more people (including actors themselves) seem to take the event seriously and it really showed. Hugh Grant’s face will be plastered all over for his understated undressing of the banquet with his “Vanity Fair” moment, where he cited a novel, not the famed magazine, about a society that cares much more about how things look than they should. Cocaine Bear also made an appearance, and in a night that’s supposed to be about glamour, it showed that even the Academy itself is in on the joke. Nevertheless, the recognition that one gets from winning an Academy Award is unlike any other prize in existence. It’s a cultural cornerstone, and winning one puts you on the mountaintop of fame, among many other things that come with winning.
Speaking of winners, The Beat Asia is here with a roundup of the biggest winners in this year’s Oscars:
Best Supporting Actor – Ke Huy Quan, ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’
A redemption story for rejects everywhere, Ke Huy Quan quit the movie industry 20-or-so years ago because no one would cast him. Having starred in The Goonies and being Indiana Jones’ most beloved sidekick, it must have been bitter for Ke to not get movie roles to help him develop his craft.
Fast forward to 2023, he wins Best Supporting Oscar for “Everything Everywhere All at Once” (EEAAO). Not only is it a sweet victory for him, but it also proved that you may quit what you love, but love never quits. After being spurred on by the success of “Crazy Rich Asians,” he started looking for acting work again. Before he knows it, he was campaigning for EEAAO in the awards circuit and won the biggest accolade of his career so far.
Best Supporting Actress – Jamie Lee Curtis, ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’
Odds were never in favor of Jamie Lee Curtis, who was up against Angela Bassett and the entire cultural force of “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” behind her. Who knows who got the deciding vote, but as we all have learned, we have to give people flowers while they’re here, and not wait until it’s all become eulogy fodder.
Jamie Lee Curtis was great opposite Michelle Yeoh, playing Deirdre Beaubeirdre, an IRS agent in the main reality, and a role filler in the other universes where Deirdre also existed. Many things have been said, but playing three different characters count for something in this industry. And after a 46-year career, having been Tess Coleman in “Freaky Friday,” Joan Day in Zooey Deschanel’s “New Girl,” and Laurie Strode in the iconic “Halloween” series, she finally has the notch to end all notches: an Academy Award.
Best Director – Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’
The Daniels, the nickname given to Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert once EEAAO blew up, were really worried that other IPs beat them to the multiverse-in-the-movies idea. They thought that “Rick and Morty’s” multiple Ricks and Mortys, as well as “Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse” and its versions of Spider-Man, introduced the idea to the public too soon. Little did they know that once their multiverse movie releases, the public appetite for different dimensions was just getting started.
But now, hours earlier at this point, they took to the stage to thank everyone in their universe who helped and served as their inspiration for the movie. Whatever they have planned, here’s hoping there would be more Evelyn’s, Deirdre’s and Waymond’s in store for us.
Best Actor – Brendan Fraser, ‘The Whale’
Much has been made about Darren Aronofsky’s latest film, “The Whale”, and Charlie’s, its main character, main problem: his obesity. A spot published on The Guardian called the movie out for its “stigmatizing reflection of thin people’s assumptions about fat bodies.” A piece on Literary Hub had one writer trying to reconcile her love of the film and how other critics of the movie’s purported failed portrayal of fat people.
Nonetheless, no one can say anything about Brendan Fraser winning Best Actor. It’s a career-defining performance that – despite what was said – got people talking so much about the film. Tightly framed with a 4:3 render as its official cinematic release, viewers were able to focus on Charlie and the physical manifestation of his grief, you can’t help but look at Brendan directly and his powerful performance. It was his to win, and win he did.
Best Actress – Michelle Yeoh, ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’
In replaying the Oscar ceremonies, Michelle Yeoh’s winning moment in particular, there’s one tidbit about the Malaysian actress that stands out. She is a ballet dancer before becoming an actor, and received no formal training in martial arts. It’s not so remarkable, until you realize that she is an integral part of Hong Kong’s “thrill-a-minute” movement that encapsulates the city’s golden age of cinema.
Not that it translated to Hollywood success, where she only got middling roles for a long time. She herself stated that she accepted so few roles because most that were offered to her couldn’t live up to what she’s capable of doing as an actress. She is an A-lister with no A-lister-type starring role to her name until EEAAO, but it was all worth the wait. She has been raking the “Best Actress” wins since the movie’s release, and she’s been advocating for more actors of Asian descent to pursue their dreams, no matter what. Because if it’s possible for her, it’s possible for them.
Best Picture – ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’
It really could not have been anything else. Not only did the movie carry such a heavy cultural weight, having represented the life of Asian-American immigrants, but A24, the movie company behind EEAAO, was also on the rampage during the awards season. They knew what they had with the film, and they went to work to get it the recognition.
More than that, though, it used the medium of multiverses to tell a story about love. Romantic love, familial love, parental love, and how it endures anything, it was everything and its characters were everywhere all at once. And the leads, Michelle Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan, Jamie Lee Curtis and Stephanie Hsu, were all magnetic in the roles, a venerable multiverse of talent. This movie was meant to achieve things, and it did.
Honorable Mentions – A24 and ‘The Mummy 3’
“The Whale” and “Everything Everywhere All at Once” were both critical successes that provided the lifeline of all lifelines to their stars. And you know how much both these movies cost, these movies that overdid expectations thirtyfold? An estimated US$25 million, and the actual figure could be even much lower. Both are products of A24, the hottest movie studio of the last five and probably, the next 10 years.
The company has proven, so far, that they are about fresh movie ideas and quality, and it has won them the love of moviegoers of all ages. If there’s any movie during the last three years (the pandemic era) that you heard about, it’s probably from A24.
Also, “The Mummy 3”, the third installment of the series before Tom Cruise took over, had Brendan Fraser and Michelle Yeoh. Whoever has the streaming rights for that movie may probably get a big uptick in traffic.
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