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  • Writer's pictureNoah Yard

Everything Everywhere All At Once Deserves Best Picture.

Updated: Mar 13, 2023

I know, I know this movie came out a year ago, right? But it’s the Oscars this week, and I want to give the academy my official recommendation that it wins all 11 categories that it is nominated for. I believe I have a solid case for why Everything Everywhere All At Once should be Best Picture.

It's Fresh

I believe this movie defies genre. Wikipedia calls it an absurdist comedy-drama, but I think that does it a disservice, as it’s also so much more. It’s a family drama that tackles the issues of existentialism, nihilism, and dadaism. It’s also a kick-ass action movie as well, with great, absurd fight scenes. Science fiction themes make all of this work in one movie. This may sound like a mad chaotic jumble, but everything works in perfect harmony, like an everything bagel with absolutely everything on it.

It's challenging.

The themes and plot aren’t simple, and that’s an understatement. First, you have to understand what’s going on, to understand what the movie is trying to say. The movie is about Evelyn, a failing laundromat owner who is dragged into an interdimensional war with an evil version of her own daughter. She is alerted to the ability to jump between different realities, ones where anything is possible based on the tiny different choices every day in life. For instance, Evelyn sees versions of herself as a movie star, a singer, and a pizza shop sign twirler. She could have been these things, if she hadn’t gotten married, or if her father had pressured her more. She unlocks the ability to channel these realities and use their skill sets. Confused? You’re supposed to be, I think. It’s not like the Matrix or Inception, the pieces are all there for you to put together, you have to focus. And honestly, the way it spins this yarn is so captivating, you won’t want to look away anyway. I usually need to do something while I watch something, whether that’s Twitter or Switch games, but as soon as this movie started, everything else went off and stayed off.

It's Funny.

Yes, it’s complex, but it doesn’t take itself too seriously. There is a world where people have hotdogs in place of fingers, an everything bagel with everything in the world ever on it (including salt and every breed of dog) and there are lots and lots of googly eyes. My favourite line is “You are capable of anything because you’re so bad at everything,” which is a devastating thing to say to someone but also objectively hilarious. A movie so confusing and exciting couldn’t do what it does with full sincerity and no wit. It would be winning Razzie awards instead of Oscars.

It’s Not Just An Action Film, It’s a Family Drama.

At the heart of the film is a family story. The family is fractured in more ways than one, Waymond, the father, wants a divorce and the daughter feels trapped and disrespected by her parents. Not to mention Evelyn’s father, who she sort of blames for the situation she finds herself in, poor and in trouble. Yeoh and Tsu, the lead actresses are at the heart of what makes the movie so emotionally gripping. Their relationship, which comes full circle eventually, is one that I am sure is common not just across generations but across cultures as well. Waymond, played by Ke Huy Quan, also delivers an emotionally raw performance, a family man who is torn between being dutiful and looking after his family, and wanting more from his life. This family is in conflict but there is still a lot of love there. By the end of the movie, they have learned what works for them, whether that be together, or apart.

It’s Not Just a Family Drama, it’s an Action Film.

This movie is also action-packed. It takes inspiration from traditional kung fu movies with a universe-bending twist. The cast did most of their own stunts, and the fight scenes show few cuts than in a regular Hollywood action movie, so everything remains quick, but also fluid and in one motion. Then unorthodox weapons are used, such as Waymond's fanny pack.

In the final scenes when Evelyn uses her new multiverse powers, the action turns absurd and fantastical, like when Jenny Slate uses her dog like a nunchuck, or when two men jump on butt plug-shaped awards to access their inner kung fu skills from across the multiverse. Evelyn sends people flying through the air (on a complicated system of wires) with her pinkie alone. It balances the funny with the raw power of martial arts skillfully, to the point where neither genre overpowers the other.

Michelle Yeoh

Let’s talk acting. Michelle Yeoh can act the house down in this universe and in every other universe. Her portrayal in the beginning, as a meek but studious wife and mother is so sad you just want to hug her. Then the weird stuff kicks in, and she expertly navigates the multiverse of genres, from sci-fi to martial arts, to drama, to comedy, and she’s perfect in every part. By the end she is a woman rejuvenated by the power of the words, “Fuck it, none of this matters,” and you can see the freedom and relief cross her face in those final scenes. Especially in the final scene with her daughter where she learns to let go.

Stephanie Hsu.

If you want to talk about a roller coaster of acting let’s talk about supporting actress Stephanie Tsu, who plays Evelyn’s Daughter, Joy, as well as the movie villain Jobu Tupaki. As Joy, you can see the exhaustion on her face as she jumps through hoops to let her voice in the family be heard. Unable to even tell her grandfather that she has a girlfriend, Joy, too, feels trapped.

As Jobu, she is a chaotic, hilarious, malevolent, and crazy badass. Seeing Hsu do both roles is amazing because you see the juxtaposition between them so clearly. But even within Jobu herself, there is a myriad of personalities inside her, because she is so unstable, and her character is my favourite part of the movie hands down. She walks into her first frame as Jobu in an Elvis costume but she’s still menacing and strange. Her style is iconic, too, landing her character in the New York Times 93 most stylish people of 2022.

What Did I miss?

There is so much more to love about Everything Everywhere All At Once. There’s the earnest performance of Waymond, in dual rolls as well, tired husband and scifi multiverse traveller. James Hong’s distinct voice, who I’ve heard everywhere from Seinfeld to Kung Fu Panda, adds to the family a wizened presence. There’s the sheer amount of beauty and style, in the movie, from the distinct feelings in each multiverse world, every costume, and every hyperpaced montage of Evelyn in different worlds. The lighting, the music, JAMIE LEE CURTIS doing knee drops. There’s something in this movie for everyone, truly, and I can’t recommend it enough to watch, if you haven’t already, and to vote for all the Oscars it is nominated for on the 13th of March.

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