Awards season has officially started, and Everything Everywhere All At Once is gearing up to be one of the frontrunners leading up to next year’s Oscars.
The film by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheiner, the filmmaking duo known as “the Daniels,” was the big winner last night at the 2022 Gotham Awards, sweeping up Best Feature Film and Best Supporting Performance for actor Ke Huy Quan.
And it’s worth keeping these gongs in mind, as the Gotham Awards not only celebrate independent film but also unofficially kickoff the marathon of awards ceremonies that lead up to the Oscars in March 2023; and recent Gotham winners have included several Oscar winners, like Drive My Car, CODA, Nomadland and Moonlight.
So place your bets – this year’s runaway indie hit is only just beginning to fill its awards cabinet chest.
Accepting Best Feature, Everything Everywher All At Once co-director Daniel Kwan said: “One of the biggest things I learned about this year is the trauma that the people all around our country and all around the world are dealing with right now.”
“Everyone is dealing with some sort of trauma. I’ve met so many people after screenings who have revealed that trauma to me because of the nature of our film, and one of the things I’m realizing now is that trauma is the most important thing for us to be dealing with right now because trauma shrinks the imagination and we get trapped in the past. Right now, if we’re going to endure the next 20, 30, 40, 50 years together, we’re going to have to heal that trauma collectively. We’re going to have to figure out how to open up the collective imagination and we’re going to have to figure out how to all be whole, emotionally talented, kind, resilient people.”
For those who haven’t seen the film – get on it, please – it’s an inventive and daring take on the ubiquitous multiverse subgenre that’s brimming with boundless ideas and madcap flourishes. The plot follows a laundromat owner (Michelle Yeoh) with tax problems, who discovers that multiple versions of herself can potentially sort out her IRS woes, fix her existential funk and marriage, and help her to save the world from a bagel-shaped black hole.
Sounds bonkers, and it is, with butt-plug fights, a universe where everyone has hot dogs for fingers, and the most ‘WTF’ scene of the year that features an existential discussion between two rocks. Crucially though, the directors don’t let the Dadaist goodness pervading every scene get in the way of a powerful emotional pull that makes all the characters devastatingly relatable. The film’s musings about unconditional love and acceptance are swoon-worthy, and it’s truly a one-of-a-kind viewing experience.
Also taking an award for his work on the film was Ke Huy Quan, the Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom child star who made a lauded comeback in Everything Everywhere All At Once.
“This time last year, all I was hoping for was a job,” said an emotional Quan, who had nearly given up acting before landing his role in the film. “For the first time in a very long time, I was given a second chance.”
The Gothams give gender neutral acting awards, which meant that some awards favourites this year that wouldn’t normally be head-to-head, like Brendan Fraser (The Whale) and Cate Blanchett (Tár), were up against each other.
Danielle Deadwyler emerged victorious, nabbing Best Leading Performance for her work as a grieving mother in Till.
Todd Fields’ Tár, starring Blanchett as a renowned conductor, came into the Gothams with a leading five nominations and went home with an award for Fields’ screenplay.
The breakthrough director award went to Charlotte Wells for Aftersun, the Scottish filmmaker’s devastating debut about a father (Paul Mescal) and daughter (Frankie Corio) on vacation. Aftersun also earned a shoutout from Daniel Kwan who said it should have won best feature, not Everything Everywhere All At Once.
Elsewhere, All That Breathes, Shaunak Sen’s film about a New Dehli bird hospital, took Best Documentary, while Audrey Diwan’s Happening won for Best International Feature.
Adapted from the best-selling autobiographical novel by Annie Ernaux, the Golden Lion-winning French abortion drama, set in 1963 France, took on added relevance after the repeal in the United States of Roe v. Wade. It focuses on a student’s (a note-perfect Anamaria Vartolomei) determination to find a way to terminate her pregnancy in order to continue with her studies and her life
It shows the realities of illegal abortions and, impressively, neither exploits the right to choose as a partisan issue nor stumbles into didacticism. It’s not a question of being pro-choice or pro-life; the film eloquently states that freedoms have been denied to women and that removing a person’s right to choose is tantamount to madness.
Poignant and socially resonant, Happening couldn’t be a more timely – make sure to catch up on it, if you haven’t already seen this vital drama.
In addition to the competitive awards, the Gotham Awards honored a number of individuals with tributes, including Adam Sandler, Michelle Williams, the cast of Fire Island, Gina Prince-Bythewood, Audible founder Don Katz, Focus execs Peter Kujawski and Jason Cassidy and, posthumously, Sidney Poitier.
Kathryn Bigelow presented the director tribute to Prince-Bythewood, the director and screenwriter behind Love & Basketball, The Secret Life of Bees, Before I Fall, and this year’s The Woman King.
Prince-Bythewood reflected on the “sustained fight” she’s gone through as she’s made films.
“There’s this thing female directors and black directors talk about. We are so often asked about the struggle and the fight to get our films made but we are rarely asked about the craft of making it, the research, the world-building, building performances, lens choices,” she said.
“The struggle is absolutely real. I’ve been in a sustained fight for 20 years to center Black women in my work. As a filmmaker, I write and direct what I want to see and yet we also make films for an audience and I fight to stretch that audience. In a climate where critical race theory, Black history and Black women are seen as a threat or invisible, I want us to see ourselves as beautiful, heroic, vulnerable, bad-ass, complicated, worthy of love. But more so I need these truths to be reflected back to the world.”
The full list of winners:
Best Feature: Everything Everywhere All At Once
Outstanding Lead Performance: Danielle Deadwyler (Till)
Outstanding Supporting Performance: Ke Huy Quan (Everything Everywhere All At Once)
Breakthrough Performer: Gracija Filipović (Murina)
Breakthrough Director: Charlotte Wells (Aftersun)
Best Screenplay: Todd Field (Tár)
Best International Feature: Happening
Best Documentary Feature: All That Breathes
Breakthrough Series – Long Form: Pachinko
Breakthrough Series – Short Form: Mo
Breakthrough Nonfiction Series: We Need To Talk About Cosby
Outstanding Performance in a New Series: Ben Whishaw (This Is Going To Hurt)
Ensemble Tribute: Fire Island – Nick Adams, Joel Kim Booster, Margaret Cho, Tomás Matos, Torian Miller, Zane Phillips, Conrad Ricamora, Matt Rogers, James Scully, and Bowen Yang
Filmmaker Tribute: Gina Prince-Bythewood
Gotham Impact Salute: Venice Film Festival
Icon Tribute: Sidney Poitier (posthumous)
Industry Tribute: Jason Cassidy and Peter Kujawski
Innovator Tribute: Don Katz
Performer Tribute: Adam Sandler & Michelle Williams