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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Sunday, May 19, 2024

'Everything Everywhere' made Oscar history — and rightfully so

The title card of "Everything Everywhere All At Once" (2022) is pictured.

For 95 years, the Academy Awards has never nominated an Asian woman in the category of best actress. On Tuesday, Jan. 24, that streak was broken by Malaysian icon Michelle Yeoh, who was nominated for her performance in the A24 film “Everything Everywhere All At Once” (2022) as Evelyn Wang. Yeoh’s career has spanned nearly 40 years, originally starring in Chinese action films. Prior to her role in “Everything Everywhere,” Yeoh was most known in the Western entertainment industry for starring in the James Bond film “Tomorrow Never Dies” (1997),“Crazy Rich Asians” (2018) and the Marvel film “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” (2021). “Everything Everywhere” marked the first Hollywood leading role for Yeoh, and her performance has been a hot topic throughout the awards season.

Earlier this month, Yeoh became the second Asian actress to win the Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy award at the Golden Globes. The first was her castmate from “Crazy Rich Asians,” Awkwafina, who won for her role as Billi Wang in “The Farewell” (2019), which was also an A24 film. Despite a remarkable performance, Awkwafina and the film as a whole ended up being completely overlooked by the Academy Awards that year. Yeoh’s nomination marks a major milestone for the 60-year-old actress and the Asian community as a whole.

Based on the Critic’s Choice Award results and the Golden Globes, the Best Actress award will likely be a battle between Yeoh and Cate Blanchett. Blanchett is nominated for her role as Lydia Tár in “Tár” (2022) and won the Critic’s Choice for her performance. Though Blanchett’s performance was admirable, it should be Yeoh who takes home the award.

Whether she is in an intense fighting scene or delivering an emotional monologue, Yeoh is always captivating and powerful. At the core of her character is a deep love for her family, which Yeoh captures with such ease and honesty. Without a doubt, Yeoh was the best actress of the 2022 film season and should be honored with the Academy Award. Not only is her acting talent unmatched — yes, at age 60 she still does a majority of her own stunts and is an exacting martial artist — but she is humble, authentic and inspirational.

Yeoh is not the only member of the “Everything Everywhere” cast to be nominated for an award, as the film received the most Academy Award nominations (11) of any film this year, four of them in acting categories. Ke Huy Quan received a Best Supporting Actor nomination, while both Jamie Lee Curtis and Stephanie Hsu received nominations for Best Supporting Actress. Most notable of these nominations is Stephanie Hsu, who was snubbed at many of the award shows leading up to the Academy Awards.

Hsu’s performances as Joy, Evelyn’s daughter, and Jobu Tupaki, the multiversal villain dedicated to destroying Evelyn, is one that is fascinating and gripping. Hsu expresses the deep evil behind Jobu in a way that is mysterious and terrifying, while also being comedic at times. While playing Joy, Hsu is emotional and desperate for her mother’s acceptance — a stark contrast to Jobu. Though it seems unlikely the Academy will award both Hsu and Yeoh for their performances, Hsu is well-deserving of this nomination.

Quan is another cast member to receive both the Golden Globe win and an Academy nomination. The actor, who quit acting for decades after starting his career as a child star, earned his nomination for his role as Waymond Wang, Evelyn’s husband. His character is kind and loving and Quan is the perfect actor to play this role. In one of the most notable and most quoted scenes in the film, an alternate version of Waymond says to Evelyn, “In another life, I would have really liked just doing laundry and taxes with you.” The line is simple and beautiful. Quan’s delivery of this specific line and every line is superb.

Everything Everywhere” is a film that proves the industry is changing, and the Academy’s decision to nominate the film for 11 awards emphasizes that statement. With Hong Chau’s nomination for “The Whale” (2022), this year’s Academy Awards marks the highest number of Asian actors nominated in the history of the awards in a single year. Though all of the “Everything Everywhere” actors deserve great credit for their performances, Yeoh is the core of the film and winning the Academy Award would be a historic honor. Her career is one defined by persistence, grit and unbridled talent, and she continues to be true inspiration to her community. There is no actress more deserving of the Best Actress award this year than Michelle Yeoh.