Everything Everywhere All at Once Is Everything


Everything Everywhere All at Once makes history with their wins! (Photo Credit: The Hollywood Reporter)

By Yongyu Qiu (I) and Mindy Luong (II)

At the 2023 Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards on February 26, the A24 film Everything Everywhere All at Once (EEAAO) swept the ceremony with four out of six possible wins, more than any other film in SAG history.

EEAAO is a sci-fi and adventure comedy directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, featuring a talented and diverse cast led by Michelle Yeoh. The supporting cast, including James Hong, Jamie Curtis Lee, Stephanie Hsu and Ke Huy Quan, gave excellent performances that added depth to their parts.

The bizarre but exhilarating film follows the journey of Evelyn Wang (Yeoh), a Chinese immigrant mother, as she juggles a failing laundromat and a shaky marriage with her newly discovered obligation: saving the multiverse. Navigating through parallel worlds, she encounters different versions of herself — opera singer, chef and martial artist, to name a few — and must confront them as she races against time.

From googly eyes to telepathic rocks to bagel-shaped voids, each nonsensical aspect of the film connects back to a central lesson: love and family give us purpose. The film also explores themes about the immigrant experience, queer identity and breaking the cycle of generational trauma.

EEAAO has been well-received by audiences and critics, which has helped to showcase and highlight Asian actors’ and filmmakers’ skills and creativity on a global level. The film has been hailed as a breakthrough in the industry, pushing the boundaries of what is possible in terms of its unique visual style and genre while striving towards greater representation in the film industry.

Angela Guan (I) resonates with the film’s characters and message, saying, “It was the first time that I ever felt connected to a movie protagonist. Like Joy, I felt the pressure to live up to expectations that my mom set for me, but it was difficult to accept and understand that she was doing this out of love, which is why disagreements with my mom sometimes led to arguments. The fact that the Wang family is able to go through a journey of healing together through all the chaos is what makes Everything Everywhere All at Once such a beautiful movie.”

Yeoh won Best Female Lead for her role as the overwhelmed but determined protagonist, becoming the first Asian actress to ever do so. Fellow cast member Jamie Lee Curtis won Best Female Actor in a Supporting Role for her portrayal of Deirdre Beaubeirdre, a villainous IRS inspector who is Evelyn’s lover in a parallel universe.

Vietnamese American actor Ke Huy Quan won Best Male Actor in a Supporting Role as Waymond Wang, Evelyn’s good-natured husband. He was also the first Asian actor to win in that category. In addition to these remarkable wins, EEAAO took the title for Best Cast with a cast composed primarily of Asian American actors.

EEAAO’s success at the SAG Awards went on to accurately predict the outcome of the Academy Awards. All four SAG-nominated actors were nominated for Oscars in their respective categories: Yeoh won Best Actress, Quan won Best Supporting Actor and Curtis won Best Supporting Actress. EEAAO also won Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay and Best Film Editing, becoming the ceremony’s most acclaimed film with seven wins from eleven nominations. Stephanie Hsu, who played Evelyn’s daughter Joy, became the first openly queer actor nominated for an Oscar in a queer character.

The film’s record-breaking accomplishments mark a significant milestone in addressing Asian underrepresentation in Hollywood. Historically, Asian actors have been overlooked in the movie industry, garnering little recognition and awards. They are frequently stereotyped, relegated to supporting roles or subject to white-washing, while white actors are cast in roles that were originally intended for Asian actors. James Hong, the 94-year-old actor who plays Evelyn’s father, recalled his time in the acting industry when presumably white actors would have “their eyes taped up […] because the producer said the Asians were not good enough [for the] box office.”

In his acceptance speech, Quan later stated that “the landscape now looks so different than before,” affirming the positive direction that Hollywood is taking by providing more opportunities for Asian-cast roles. The lack of such opportunities had been the reason for Quan’s two-decade-long hiatus from acting.

These wins signify a turning point in an industry that is working toward inclusivity and equal representation. They also demonstrate to younger generations of Asian Americans who may feel marginalized that their dreams are within reach. Yeoh was speechless as she accepted her award, dedicating her accomplishment to all Asian Americans who feel unseen and unheard. She proclaims emphatically, “This is not just for me. It’s for every little girl that looks like me.”

Everything Everywhere All at Once, both an engaging and inclusive story, has the potential to inspire and empower a new generation of filmmakers and audiences alike. It motivates viewers to embrace their creativity, believe in the possibility of their imaginations and, most importantly, pursue their dreams with passion, enthusiasm and determination.