In case you haven’t heard, “Everything Everywhere All At Once” (EEAAO) won big time at the 95th Academy Awards. After being nominated for 11 categories, the A24-produced film took home seven awards: Ke Huy Kwan for best supporting actor, Jamie Lee Curtis for best supporting actress, Best Original Screenplay, Best Editing, the Daniels for best director, Michelle Yeoh for best actress, and best picture.
It was a clean, beautiful, Asian sweep.
And needless to say, I am absolutely thrilled to tears.
The Oscars, I’m somewhat ashamed to admit, are still a big deal for me. Yes, it may be the paragon of whiteness in film and entertainment, and yes, Hollywood is just a microcosm in the big picture that is the international film industry, but it’s still the Oscars.
In the grand scheme of things, the show (and by extension, the body that awards these titles) is just a blip in the radar of what cinema actually is. But that doesn’t take away from the relevance and importance of what EEAAO’s win signifies.
The world is ready to listen—and pay—to see our stories.
Standing on the shoulders of giants
EEAAO is definitely not the first Asian film to win big at the Oscars. Most recently, “Parasite” won best picture at the 92nd Academy Awards for best picture, best original screenplay, Bong Joon Ho for Best Director, and best international film. That year after, Chloe Zhao was awarded best director for her work in “Nomadland.” And just last year the Japanese film “Drive My Car” won for best international film.
All of these wins and nominations mean something.
On a global scale, Asian stories told by Asians are something you’d be hard pressed to find before “Parasite’s” historic win. Aside from film festivals like SXSW and Cannes, stories by people outside of the Western Hemisphere were reserved for people outside the Western Hemisphere.
The needle is moving forward.
The front page of the Internet is filled with stories of Michelle Yeoh’s historic win as the first Asian (specifically Southeast Asian) woman to win an Academy Award in the best actress category. The only other woman of color to win in that category since the year 2000 is Halle Berry for her work in “Monster’s Ball.”
People in the generation who grew up in front of a TV only saw the same faces win the same awards over and over again.
But not today.
Today, it was someone who looked relatively like us.
Skin in the game
For a person in the creative field (who has background dreams of working in film and television), today is a day I will never forget. Films and television shows have shaped who I am—the good, the bad, and the ugly.
I have a vested interest in “EEAAO’s” win because it’s a story that I can actually relate to. Even though I’m not a product of the Asian diaspora, I still have Asian parents who have Asian standards. I still belong to a society and a community with values similar to those displayed in the film.
The film—no matter how absurd, googly eyed, and butt plug-filled it is—holds so much meaning.
Seeing the whole white world react to their victory with thunderous applause is just the cherry on top. The fact that the film already made it to thousands of screens all over the world—and earned millions in revenue—just shows that we can get there.
The Oscars is by no means the only measure of success out there, but it still holds so much impact for young creatives of color. Watching the cast and crew receive their awards with tears in their eyes only proves that this win has been a long time coming.
The world is changing, and we’re taking up space for more of our stories to be told. And not just that. People are ready and hungry for more.
There’s room for much more
While “EEAAO’s” win was definitely cathartic, it still leaves much to be desired. For one, I cannot imagine how Jamie Lee Curtis won over Stephanie Hsu’s heartbreaking, honest, and sensational performance as Joy/Jobu Topaki.
And don’t even get me started on Dolly de Leon’s snub for the best supporting actress category for “Triangle of Sadness.”
And while there are Asian faces on screen, they’re still a specific type of Asian—if you know what I mean.
Still, for so long, I’ve wanted to see faces like mine win shiny gold awards on stage for doing the things they loved. And for the past few years, we got it.
But there’s always room for more.
But even with that being said, this win will inspire the next generation of storytellers. It will hold so much influence over writers and filmmakers to be bolder, more decisive, and demand more attention. It has the makings to imbue us with more courage to put our hopes, dreams, desires, and fears up on the big screen—and even help some of us make a living doing what we love most.
“Parasite” opened the door. “Everything Everywhere All At Once” almost ripped it off its hinges.
Now, what I’m hoping for the most, is that we take those victories and dance into the room, singing our stories at the top of our lungs—showing the rest of the world the other universes they’ve missed out on.