“Everything Everywhere All at Once” has won 7 Academy Awards, including the coveted Best Picture. For reference, it has received more Oscars than previous BP winners “The Godfather” (3 wins), “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” (5 wins), “Rocky” (3 wins), “Platoon” (4 wins), “The Silence of the Lambs” (5 wins), “Unforgiven” (4 wins), “American Beauty” (5 wins), “The Departed” (4 wins), “No Country for Old Men” (4 wins), and “Parasite” (4 wins). It has as many Oscars as “Schindler’s List.” Plus, if you add all the other awards organizations (SAG, BAFTA, Golden Globes, and hundreds more), Everything Everywhere has officially become the most awarded film of all time, with 336 wins and 691 nominations, surpassing “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” (213 awards, 337 nominations). Does it really deserve to be more acclaimed than these movies?
Criticisms of the Film
This film falters for two main reasons: its writer/directors Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (who’ve each won more Oscars than Stanley Kubrick and Martin Scorsese put together). These two lack the ability to focus or employ restraint. They indulge in their worst fantasies. Throughout the whole film, especially the abysmal and over-long ending, the Daniels choose style over substance at every turn. For example, the concept that wearing an earpiece and doing something wacky like eating glue grants the abilities of an alternate universe self stretches too much credibility. Movies can go to weird places, but there must be strong world-building to justify them, and this film doesn’t have that.
Instead it has inconsistent writing. It’s only established that talents can be transferred across universes, not physical objects. Yet somehow, Alpha Waymond is able to bring over multiverse-linked earpieces from his universe into the main one. Somehow, Alpha Gong-Gong is able to bring over a mechanized, jet-boosted, robotic wheelchair. There aren’t any concrete rules here, which makes for a lazy and chaotic script.
Additionally, the screenplay has so many strange plot holes and “wait, what?” moments. For example:
- What are the odds that in the hot dog universe (which is one of the most prominent in the film) Evelyn is married to this particular IRS agent?
- Why was Joy able to sneak past the police and enter the IRS building so easily?
- Why did the police stay outside during all the mayhem inside the building, and why didn’t they call in reinforcements? Speaking of which, how were all of the Alpha Universe soldiers Alpha Gong-Gong brought in able to enter the IRS building so quickly? What are the odds that they would be that close by?
- Why would Joy put “everything” onto a bagel, other than for the directors to put in another goofy goof?
Lastly, the film has a truly dreadful third act. It’s just characters crying and talking about love for 45 minutes across universes, and sure, it could be heartfelt in theory, but not if it’s stretched out that long. The film just refuses to end and instead beats the audience into submission. It’s a draining, sappy, bloated, frustrating, Lifetime Channel finale that brings everything good about the film (e.g. Ke Huy Quan’s performance and some of the action scenes) down.
Awards Campaign and the Oscars’ Invalidity
Everything Everywhere, starting from March 2022, had been propelled to the front of the awards circuit. 2022 film history was forcefully rewritten by Twitter, Letterboxd, and later the Academy Awards, claiming this movie was more culturally significant than “Top Gun: Maverick,” which arguably saved theaters. Ignoring its re-release in early February 2023, Everything Everywhere had been in theaters for 28 weeks, surpassing the 24 weeks of Maverick‘s original theatrical run. Maverick made over $1 billion more, but Everything Everywhere had been in theaters longer to keep this manufactured momentum going.
It’s even been documented that Oscar voters were willing to give the awards to Everything Everywhere over more deserving films because of the narratives. In an anonymous interview with The Hollywood Reporter, one voter was asked about who he/she believed deserved Best Actress in a Leading Role. It came down to Cate Blanchett in “Tár” versus Michelle Yeoh in Everything Everywhere, and this voter basically admitted to voting based on personal bias rather than merit: “Cate gets lost in Lydia Tár — it’s such an incredible performance — but to see what Michelle, a woman who’s so overdue, did in her movie, with the action and the fighting and the emotion? I had to pick Michelle. Tie goes to the person who hasn’t won over the person who already has two.”
This shows how awards voters cared more about selecting the individual or film which continues a more exciting narrative, not the individual or film that’s actually better. Blanchett’s performance in “Tár” is perhaps the best we’ve seen since Daniel Day-Lewis’ powerhouse transformation in “There Will Be Blood.” Yet since Yeoh hadn’t previously won an Oscar and she’s in the cult movie, she had to win. This is not how awards should be decided. It should always be given to the person who did the best job. Period. The amount of previous wins shouldn’t determine whether someone is deserving.
“Everything Everywhere All at Once” proves how politicized the awards race has become, as well as how undignified film critics have become. They’re all scared to go against the grain, so they instead join the hive mind and pretend this is the best, most important film ever. Quite honestly, Everything Everywhere might be the most overrated film of the 21st century.