Michelle Yeoh Makes History & “Everything Everywhere All At Once” Wins Big
In what was one of the smoothest, most genuinely pleasant Oscars telecasts in recent memory, Michelle Yeoh made history, Everything Everywhere All At Once won just about everything everywhere, and the 95th Academy Awards rolled into the history books with nary a bump in the road and backed by a gentle breeze.
Yeoh became the first Asian person to win an Academy Award in the lead actress or actor category, taking home her first Oscar for Best Actress for her astonishing performance in Everything Everywhere All At Once. The multiversal drama from the directing duo the Daniels (Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert) is centered on Yeoh’s Evelyn Wang, a laundromat owner under duress as the target of an overzealous IRS agent (played by newly minted Oscar-winner Jamie Lee Curtis) and a fraying relationship with her daughter, Joy (a phenomenal, Oscar-nominated Stephanie Hsu). Evelyn ultimately settles all her accounts by zipping through parallel universes, patching up her relationship with her daughter, and preventing a cataclysm in the joyous, emotionally abundant sci-fi romp.
“For all the little boys and girls who look like me watching tonight, this is a beacon of hope and possibilities,” Yeoh said from the stage. “This is proof that dreams do come true. And ladies, don’t let anybody tell you that you are ever past your prime. Never give up.”
The film earned not only Yeoh an Oscar but also scooped up two more in the acting characters, with Ke Huy Quan’s emotional win for Best Supporting Actor for playing Waymond Wang, Evelyn’s husband, and Jamie Lee Curtis’s win for playing the IRS agent Deirdre Beabeirdre. Quan, a child actor who flourished in Goonies and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, had a long hiatus from acting, which he described in his emotional, moving acceptance speech that set the tone for the entire night.
“My journey started on a boat. I spent a year in a refugee camp, and somehow, I ended up here on Hollywood’s biggest stage,” Quan said through tears, while even presenter Ariana DeBose, standing behind him, was visibly emotional herself. For a relentlessly inventive sci-fi romp, Everything Everywhere All At Once struck a chord with audiences and the Academy because its central messages and most enduring themes were about acceptance and love. These were messages that came across loud and clear in Quan’s beautiful acceptance speech and were mentioned by the people we spoke to who worked on the film, from Stephanie Hsu to the film’s hair and makeup department heads.
The Daniels took home the Oscar for Best Director (the first duo to share the award since Joel and Ethan Coen won for No Country for Old Men in 2008), shared the Best Picture win along with producer Jonathan Wang, and won Best Original Screenplay. Joining them, Yeoh, Quan, and Curtis was editor Paul Rogers, who won for what he revealed was only his second feature film. Everything Everywhere All At Once ended the evening with seven wins (out of its 11 nominations), the most wins or nominations for a film co-directed by an Asian man and featuring a cast that was almost entirely Asian.
There were plenty of emotional moments that didn’t directly involve Everything—Brendan Fraser’s emotional acceptance speech for his Best Oscar win for The Whale stood out. As did the night’s more low-key winners, each of whom brought a genuine warmth to the stage, perhaps exemplified in its purest form when the Oscar-winning filmmakers Tom Berkely and Ross White, the duo behind An Irish Goodbye, which won in the Short Film (Live Action) category, cut their own speeches short to sing “Happy Birthday” to the film’s star, James Martin.
It was a very good night for Hollywood, especially after last year’s Oscars, which was shadowed during and after by Will Smith slapping Chris Rock. Host Jimmy Kimmel kept things light, and performances from Rihanna, Lady Gaga, David Byrne and Stephanie Hsu, and Lenny Kravitz injected the night with some short but potent bursts of beauty, and the award winners, to a man and woman, seemed to exude genuine joy and love for not only their fellow nominees and colleagues, but all the people not present at Hollywood’s biggest night who make it possible for them to be there in the first place. “I owe everything to the love of my life, my wife Echo,” Ke Huy Quan said during his speech. “Who, month after month, year after year for 20 years, told me that one day my time will come.”
Echo was right.
For the full list of winners, click here.
For more stories and interviews with Oscar nominees, check out these stories:
Featured image: HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 12: Michelle Yeoh accepts the Best Actress award for “Everything Everywhere All at Once” onstage during the 95th Annual Academy Awards at Dolby Theatre on March 12, 2023 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)