LOS ANGELES — It was messy, messy, wild, creative, big-hearted, and utterly unique. If it were a bagel, it would certainly be the “everything” variety.
But Everything Everywhere All At Once was a movie, not a bagel, and it defined Sunday’s Academy Awards, delivered one feel-good moment after another — and also made history in a big night for Asians and Asian Americans in Hollywood.
And as for The Slap? Well, that Oscar night felt more like a big hug, her heartwarming speeches being a powerful antidote to the uncomfortable memories of last year’s Will Smith saga. They kept coming: there was Ke Huy Quan leaping up the stairs to collect the supporting actor trophy, and his tearful joy was contagious as he recalled his remarkable life story. From the same film, Jamie Lee Curtis spoke eloquently about acting as a community effort, and the Daniels directing duo thanked the public school teachers and family members who encouraged their creativity.
Then there was leading actress Michelle Yeoh, who added an overdue cherry to her amazing career by becoming the inaugural Best Asian Actress winner. She spoke of many things, but perhaps most eloquently about moms, whom she called “superheroes.” And on Oscar night in particular, many winners gave heartfelt thanks to their mothers, most notably costume designer Ruth E. Carter, who greeted her 101-year-old mother, who she said had just died.
Of course, thanks were also given to the children, fathers, husbands and wives. “I am your son and I love you,” Guillermo del Toro, who won Best Animated Feature, told his late parents. And perhaps the four most heartbreaking words of the evening came from a wife to a husband: “Stay strong my love,” Yulia Navalnaya told her imprisoned husband Alexei Navalny, the Russian opposition leader.
Some of the top moments of the evening:
SO, ABOUT LAST YEAR…
Jimmy Kimmel, once again serving as host, clearly had to bring up The Slap as it will forever be known. It took about seven minutes into his monologue before he did — a sarcastic comment about last year’s bizarre passive reaction to the moment Will Smith smacked Chris Rock over a joke aimed at his wife. “We have strict guidelines,” Kimmel said. “If anyone in this theater commits an act of violence at any point on this show, you will be awarded the Academy Award for Best Actor and you may give a 19-minute speech.” He later referred to Smith’s performance as Hitch and elsewhere on one of his songs – all without naming his name.
QUAN BRINGS TEARS EARLY AND FREQUENTLY
Emotions ran high at the second award as the exuberant Quan won his Supporting Actor trophy – a result that was expected but no less exciting at the moment. In fact, host Ariana DeBose could barely pronounce his name — she was already crying.
“My journey began on a boat. I spent a year in a refugee camp,” said Quan, 51, who is of Vietnamese descent. “Somehow I ended up here on Hollywood’s biggest stage. It is said that such stories only exist in the cinema. I can’t believe it’s happening to me. That – THAT – is the American dream.” Of course, he also thanked his 84-year-old mother, who was watching at home.
CURTIS: “I AM HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE”
Curtis won immediately after Quan, took the stage and delivered another great awards season speech about industry collaboration. “I know it looks like I’m standing up here myself, but I’m not,” she said. “I am hundreds of people.”
She spoke to all of the fans and colleagues who have “supported the genre films that I’ve made over the years that have hundreds and thousands of people: We. Only. won. A. Oscar. Together!” Curtis also called out to her famous late parents, Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh, who she said had been nominated in different categories. “I just won an Oscar!” she told them.
STAY STRONG MY LOVE
Navalny is in solitary confinement in Russia. So it was left to his wife, Yulia Navalnaya, to speak for him – and for him too – when the documentary “Navalny” won an Oscar. “My husband is in jail just for telling the truth. My husband is in prison just for defending democracy,” Navalnaya said. “Alexei, I dream of the day when you will be free and our country will be free. Stay strong my love.”
Director Daniel Roher dedicated his Oscar to Navalny and all political prisoners around the world. “Alexei, the world has not forgotten your important message to all of us: we must not be afraid to stand up to dictators and authoritarianism wherever it raises its head.”
GAGA GOES MINIMAL
Nobody knows how to step into glamor better than Lady Gaga, and she appeared on the Oscar-red (well, champagne-colored) carpet in dramatic makeup and a fabulous Versace gown from the designer’s latest collection. But when she took the stage — in a surprise performance — to sing a powerful rendition of “Hold My Hand” from “Top Gun: Maverick,” the glamorous outfit was gone, replaced with a t-shirt and ripped jeans and a Make-up free face. It was another compelling Oscar performance for Gaga, who never fails to innovate and surprise.
CARTER MAKES HISTORY AGAIN
Four years ago, Carter took her first historical statuette and became the first black woman to win for costume design for Black Panther. On Sunday, she made history again when she won the award for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, becoming the first black woman to win two Oscars. She dedicated the award to Mabel Carter, her mother, who she said died last week at the age of 101. “This film prepared me for this moment,” she said. “Chadwick, please take care of Mama” – referring to Chadwick Boseman, the beloved late star of the original film.
THE DANIELS THANK THE TEACHERS – AND THE MOMMS!
The Daniels – Scheinert and Kwan – had a number of opportunities to take the stage, collecting awards for Best Original Screenplay, Best Director and winning en route to Best Picture for Everything Everywhere. The first time, Scheinert joked that he would name all the teachers who jailed him and his brother—then instead thanked by name the teachers who “raised me and inspired me and taught me to be less stupid.”
Kwan thanked “my mother for protecting me as a child and protecting my inner storyteller.” Winner of Best Director, they came back to say thank you to, in Scheinert’s words, “the mamas of the world…especially my mom and dad, thank you for not stifling my creativity when I was making really disturbing horror movies or really kinky comedy.” -Making movies or dressing in women’s clothes as a kid, which isn’t dangerous to anyone!” The audience cheered.
YOH TAKES HOME TO MALAYSIA – AND MOM!
In “Everything Everywhere,” one of Yeoh’s most memorable scenes is a kind of reconciliation with her young adult daughter (Stephanie Hsu), a scene that expresses the essence of parenthood, with all its trials and rewards.
So it was fitting that Yeoh, who accepted her best actress award, also focused on motherhood. “I have to dedicate this to my mom, all the moms in the world because they really are the superheroes,” she said, “and without them none of us would be here tonight.” She added that her mom was watching with her family in Malaysia : “She’s 84 and I’m bringing this home to her.” Yeoh, 60, also earned cheers for her plug for women getting older in Hollywood, telling them, “Don’t let anyone tell you that you’re in your prime.” exceeded!”
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