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Why “Everything Everywhere All at Once” Swept the Oscars

"Everything Everywhere All at Once" won seven Academy Awards last week, including best film and best director.


Yeoh won best actress for her performance, while Ke Huy Quan, who plays Evelyn's husband Waymond in the film, and Jamie Lee Curtis, who plays their tax assessor Deirdre Beaudeirdre, won best supporting actor and actress, respectively. The movie also won the awards for best picture, best film editing, and best original script. The award for best director went to writers-directors Daniel Kwan and Daniel Schienert.


“Everything Everywhere All at Once” had the most nominations going into the ceremony, with 11 overall. The movie has dominated the awards season, winning numerous honors, including best picture at the Critics' Choice and British Academy of Film and Television Arts Awards, best feature at the Independent Spirit Awards, and best ensemble at the SAG Awards.


Tonight’s success is another triumph for A24, the independent production company that helped the unconventional movie earn an astounding $100 million at the box office, a remarkable feat at a time when the market for indie films has shrunk. The studio also accomplished the extraordinary feat of winning all four acting awards, with "Everything Everywhere All at Once" taking home three of them and "The Whale" taking home the fourth.


The movie depicts the bizarre tale of an immigrant family who finds themselves at the epicenter of a possible multiverse collapse. Evelyn Wang discovers that she must connect with parallel universe versions of herself to prevent an alternate version of her daughter Joy from destroying their world.


In the Alpha-Verse, Joy becomes Jobu Tupaki because of her mother's expectations of her. By jumping from one universe to another too many times, Jobu comes to control the multiverse with the strength of her mind. Jobu is sassy and tasteful, but takes on the mantle of a tyrannical dark force in the multiverse.


Without much warning, the movie turns into a portrayal of how Jobu can be saved from the brink of nihilistic self-destruction. By calling on the the viewer's memory of film aesthetics, Larkin Seiple created universes that had a universal cinematic language. The film's exotic images suddenly give way to something far more relatable: an unexpected but brilliant tale about mental health, forcing the viewer to confront a representation of their own inner anguish. As emotional discoveries are made about the characters, the absurdity of their circumstances shed light on the human condition. 


The film’s artistic success is a result of the thoughtfulness of its philosophy. The intensity of the movie is summed up by the everything bagel, the film's enigmatic plot device.


Evelyn experiences an endless amount of sadness as a result of her father's rejection. Evelyn's life has been consumed by the demanding duties of managing a small business as an immigrant woman, including her inability to find beauty in the ordinary. Even though Waymond has an uncanny capacity for kindness, he nevertheless experiences the loneliness that comes from believing that his marriage is irreparably broken. 


In a cinematically evocative and extremely heartfelt scene, Joy explains how she made made the everything bagel as a means of destroying the multiverse because her nihilism is too unbearable. “When you really put everything on a bagel, it becomes this,” She says, “This is the truth: nothing matters. Nothing matters. If nothing matters, then all the pain and guilt you feel from making nothing with your life goes away.”


The bagel becomes a representation of Evelyn and Jobu's nihilistic worldview because it has every flavor there is on every inch of it, yet its center is empty like a black hole. The bagel is destructive, and its original purpose was to kill its creator, Jobu Tupaki. This shows that the bagel is also a symbol of despair once a person realizes how empty their life is.


The Everything Bagel proposes a solution that isn't actually a solution at all. The Everything Bagel is a metaphor for pessimism's flaw: it never restores anything; it is just destructive. The Everything Bagel believes in doom and is therefore destined to fail.


The climax of the movie comes when Evelyn is able to get some measure of closure with her daughter by making a meaningful choice.  As viewers, we are led to believe that Evelyn breaks the cycle of pain in her family by accepting how she was raised so that she can love her daughter better.


After a few beats, Joy and her mother embrace. Jobu's hand appears out of the shadows in the parallel reality where Evelyn is trying to save Jobu from the bagel's vortex, and Evelyn grabs it to draw her from the abyss.


IGN calculated that the film had received 165 honors from prestigious critics groups and awarding agencies, making it the most-awarded movie ever. Everything Everywhere All at Once brings many elements into a wild, organic story that reaches the soul. 


Tonight’s Oscars awards confirmed what many critics and fans of the movie are already saying: in the future, it will most likely be remembered with appreciation as one of the greatest movies ever. And it’s clear to see the greatest accomplishment is not the awards that came after the movie was a released almost a year ago – it was the creation of the film itself.



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