Regardless of the results at Sunday’s ceremony, the 2023 Oscars made history for Asian representation, largely on the strength of “Everything, Everywhere, Everything at Once.”
With four actors of Asian descent nominated, this year’s 95th Academy Awards have the largest Asian representation ever, and “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” starring Michelle Yeoh as a Chinese immigrant, is a favorite to watch. the best movie.
The nominations mark long-awaited progress for Hollywood’s recognition of Asian-led films, says Zhen Zhang, director of New York University’s Asian Film and Media Initiative.
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“There have been many Asian and Asian-American actors, … cinematographers, writers, etc., trying to break into the industry and get to the top, but it’s been a long journey, a very tough fight,” Zhang said. to the Daily News.
“In many ways, it is a defining moment of what I consider to be the American-Asian New Wave. Every time such an Asian film comes out into the public eye and receives a lot of comments and praise, crossing over into the mainstream, there is progress.”
“Everything Everywhere All at Once,” an independent comedy-drama depicting a high-stakes adventure through alternate dimensions, leads all films at Sunday’s Oscars with 11 nominations.
Yeoh is nominated for Best Actress, making her the first Asian-identifying woman of Asian descent to be nominated in the category. The late Merle Oberon, who was of Sri Lankan ancestry, was nominated in 1936 but never publicly revealed her ancestry. Yeoh would be the first Malaysian actor to win an Oscar, according to ActionNetwork.com.
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Co-star Ke Huy Quan, who plays Yeoh’s character’s husband, would become the second Asian actor to be named best supporting actor. Cambodian-born Haing S. Ngor was the first, winning for “The Killing Fields” in 1985.
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“Everything Everywhere All at Once” actress Stephanie Hsu and “The Whale” star Hong Chau are nominated for best supporting actress. The honor previously went to Japanese-American actress Miyoshi Umeki in 1958 for “Sayonara” and South Korean actress Youn Yuh-jung in 2021 for “Minari.”
The success of “Everything Everywhere All at Once” comes three years after South Korea’s dark satire “Parasite” won four Oscars, including best picture and best director for Bong Joon-ho.
Bong is one of three filmmakers of Asian descent to win the best director award. Chinese-born Chloe Zhao was the most recent winner, taking home the trophy in 2021 for “Nomadland.”
Ang Lee, from Taiwan, won the best director award in 2006 for “Brokeback Mountain” and in 2013 for “Life of Pi.” Lee was also nominated in the category in 2001 for the Chinese-language martial arts film “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” (starring Yeoh), but did not win. However, that film took home four Oscars, including in the category now titled Best International Feature Film.
“Everything Everywhere All at Once” filmmaker Daniel Kwan, who is Asian-American, could become the fourth person of Asian descent to win the best director award. He is nominated with co-director Daniel Scheinert.
The nominations for the diverse cast and filmmakers behind “Everything Everywhere All at Once” are an important statement, Zhang says.
“It’s really about portraying everyday Asian Americans, working in laundromats and in restaurants, in all kinds of offices,” he told The News. “This is not just about high-flying martial arts heroes. ‘Parasite’ is somewhat different because it is set in Korea. It’s a great celebration for the Asian-American community.”