Everything’s Going for Everything

Stephanie Hsu in Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert’s Everything Everywhere All at Once (2022)

In the thirty-eight-year history of the Film Independent Spirit Awards (which used to be called the Independent Spirit Awards), no single film has won as many of them as Everything Everywhere All at Once did on Saturday. The film netted seven awards out of eight nominations—the most it could have won, given that both Ke Huy Quan and Jamie Lee Curtis were competing for Best Supporting Performance. Quan won, and as he thanked the crew who worked on Everything, Curtis beamed a hand heart his way.

The Spirits switched up its acting categories this year, making them gender-neutral and reviving one that had been retired in 2005, Best Breakthrough Performance. That one went to Stephanie Hsu, who plays Joy Wang, the daughter of Evelyn (Michelle Yeoh, who won Best Lead Performance) and Waymond (Quan). In one of Everything’s alternate universes, there’s a version of Joy threatening to annihilate all known worlds, and it’s going to be up to Evelyn to stop her. Paul Rogers won Best Editing, Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert won Best Screenplay and Best Director, and Everything capped the evening by taking Best Feature.

On Sunday, the frisky mash-up of sci-fi, comedy, and family drama then completed its sweep of the industry’s major guilds. Having already won over the Producers, Directors, and Screen Actors Guilds, the Daniels won the Writers Guild Award for Original Screenplay. For a Vulture profile, Bilge Ebiri recently met the makers of distributor A24’s biggest hit yet at Spicy Moon, a vegan Szechuan restaurant in New York owned by Kwan’s mother. She’s told her son that she gets that people really like this movie, but why, she wonders, do so many love it?

Ebiri suggests that Everything “artfully approximates the texture and pace of life in this day and age when one can be juggling multiple personalities and life threads at once . . . But of course it’s not just that. It’s also the way the film, through its multiverse story, plays with the idea of might-have-beens, of decisions made in the past that changed the trajectory of our lives. That particular thread perhaps connects to the immigrant experience, to those of us who spend a lot of time pondering how we might have turned out had we not left our home countries behind and often wonder how that me-who-never-left is doing—a kind of multiverse of the mind.”

With Kwan and producer Jonathan Wang behind the camera and Yeoh, Quan, and Hsu in front of it, Everything is leading what Robert Ito, writing for the New York Times, calls “a bumper crop of filmmakers, performers, and artists of Asian descent” who will head to the Oscars on Sunday as nominees. Ito speaks with Kazuo Ishiguro, who may win Best Adapted Screenplay for Oliver Hermanus’s Living; Domee Shi, the director of potential Best Animated Feature Turning Red; Hong Chau, nominated for Best Supporting Actress for her turn in Darren Aronofsky’s The Whale; Shaunak Sen, whose All That Breathes is up for Best Documentary Feature; and lyricist Chandrabose and composer M. M. Keeravani, whose “Naatu Naatu,” the irresistible heartbeat of S. S. Rajamouli’s RRR, is in the running for Best Original Song. As K. K. Rebecca Lai points out alongside the NYT’s interactive timeline, this is history-making representation.

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