Everything, Every Award (Almost Every Award), All at Once


Jack McCarthy

Over the previous weekend, the 2023 Oscars took place. It was quite an exciting event, alongside some interesting winners. The film that surprisingly won the most awards was Everything, Everywhere, All at Once. But why? How did this film surprise so many with the most awards of this year? Who are the geniuses behind the film?

The Daniels

Daniel Kwan and Daniel Schienert are the directors of the film. What’s their story? The two met while studying film at Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts. They later went on to direct music videos such as “Turn Down for What,” “Houdini,” and more. 

The two would move on to film production, directing their first film, Swiss Army Man, in 2016, which received positive reviews and won the duo the Directing Award at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival. A year later, in 2017, the Daniels announced they were directing a science fiction film that would be their masterpiece Everything, Everywhere, All at Once.

Daniel Kwan and Daniel Schienert, the directors of Everything, Everywhere, All at Once

The Movie and The Production

Everything, Everywhere, All at Once follows a Chinese-American immigrant woman named Evelyn (Michelle Yeoh) as she is chosen to save the world from multiversal threats that slowly ruin reality and the multiverse. The film also stars Stephanie Hsu, Ke Huy Quan, Jamie Lee Curtis, James Hong, Harry Shum Jr., and Jenny Slate. With a budget of $14.3 million-$25 million and a box office gross of $108 million worldwide, the film was hit with an overwhelmingly positive response from critics and the general public, with people calling it A24’s best film.

Fun fact: This movie is only the Daniel duo’s second movie, their first being Swiss Army Man (2016).

The film’s development began in 2010 when the two Daniels started researching the idea of the multiverse when they learned about the concept of model realism in Ross McElwee’s 1986 documentary, Sherman’s March. The earliest drafts of the film had the main character be a professor with ADHD, through which Kwan would learn that he had undiagnosed ADHD. The martial art training scenes were inspired by Wong Kar-wai’s films. The everything bagel in the movie was initially meant to be a throwaway joke on the everything bagel (the bagel with every topping on it) but soon went to add a religion of bagel followers, making the everything bagel a simplistic but valuable symbol.

During casting, the script was meant initially for Jackie Chan until the two directors repurposed the protagonist as a woman as they thought it would make the husband and wife dynamic duo more engaging. The protagonist’s name was initially supposed to be Michelle Wang, but later was changed to Evelyn. In 2018, it was announced Awkwafina was supposed to play in the film alongside Michelle Yeoh, who some believe would have played the daughter. Still, Awkwafina left due to scheduling difficulties and was replaced by Stephanie Hsu, who would play Evelyn’s daughter in the final version, further proving that Awkwafina would have originally played that role had she not left. Ke Huy Quan, who plays Evelyn’s husband, retired from acting in 2002. Still, after Kwan and Scheinert saw a meme of politician Andrew Yang as a grown-up version of Short Round, which Quan played in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, they grew curious about what Quan was doing. They knew he would be the exemplary character to play Waymond in their film.

Filming started in January 2020, right when Covid began to appear. Filming and shooting took thirty-eight days, with the crew wrapping up in early March 2020, when the Covid pandemic worsened. Much of the film was shot in slow motion, the kung fu scenes especially, making them quick to finish, with some of the shots being completed in less than two days.

One of the fascinating things about this film is the small editing team. A total of five artists made all of the movie’s visual effects, all made using Adobe After Effects.

The Oscars Spotlight

At the 2023 Oscars, the film won the Academy Award for Best Picture, had the most awards (7 awards in total), and had the most nominations (11 nominations). I’ll only list the awards; I want this article to be brief. The film won the Academy Award for Best Director (The Daniels), the Academy Award for Best Actress (Michelle Yeoh), the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor (Ke Huy Quan), the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress (Jamie Lee Curtis (this is her first Oscar award!)), the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, and the Academy Award for Best Film Editing.

Michelle Yeoh in 2017

The film is free to watch on Netflix, and judging by not just what the awards say, this film is definitely worth watching. So go on ahead and grab some popcorn and some snacks, and watch this masterpiece.