Everything Everywhere All At Once Is The Biggest Oscar Winner Since Slumdog Millionaire, And Maybe Ever

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“Everything Everywhere All at Once” didn’t win everything, or everywhere, but it sure did win a lot, and practically all at once. The high-concept sleeper hit, which debuted almost a year ago last March, somehow kept the great word of mouth going for almost an entire year, earning over $108 million and a whopping seven Oscars.

It’s a gigantic accomplishment for an independent film about a Chinese-American immigrant (Michelle Yeoh) who hates that she never did anything with her life, only to discover that across the vast multiverse of realities, she did practically everything. Eventually, she reconciles her various destinies while coming to terms with her overbearing father (James Hong), her disconnected husband (Ke Huy Quan), and her queer daughter (Stephanie Hsu). That’s just a weird danged premise for a movie in general, and now it’s actually swept the 2023 Academy Awards.

What’s more, “Everything Everywhere All at Once” pulled off the biggest Oscar sweep in about 15 years. That’s arguably the biggest Oscar-winner overall since Danny Boyle’s “Slumdog Millionaire,” another independent film that defied mainstream convention and became a beloved motion picture with a ton of gold statues to its credit.

But it’s also, kind of, the biggest Oscar winner ever, because no other movie has ever won six Academy Awards in the categories people in the industry like to call “above the line.”

To Sweep With Oscar

Let’s talk about that sweep first. In “Slumdog Millionaire,” Dev Patel’s 18-year-old Muslim teenager finds himself on the Indian version of the game show “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.” In an unusual and clever framing device, the story is told through the framework of the gameshow, as we learn how — through an unusual combination of fate and circumstance — he just happens to have encountered the answer to all the questions throughout his very difficult life.

The crowd-pleasing, smartly crafted film won eight Oscars, including best picture, best director, best adapted screenplay, best cinematography, best editing, best original score, best original song, and best sound mixing. That’s a pretty big sweep for a low-budget motion picture that almost went straight to video.

There was a time when it was relatively common for popular movies to sweep the Academy Awards, winning a large number of the categories and shutting out other nominees altogether. “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” won 11 Oscars — in every category it was nominated — just a few years prior to “Slumdog Millionaire.” In the 1990s. the best picture winner “Titanic” also won 11 Academy Awards, “The English Patient” won nine, and “Schindler’s List,” “Shakespeare in Love,” and “Dances with Wolves” won seven.

But “Slumdog Millionaire” was the most recent Oscar best picture winner to sweep the Academy Awards for 15 years, until “Everything Everywhere All at Once.” (There’s a bit of an asterisk involved. “Gravity” won seven Oscars in 2014, but it didn’t win best picture. It lost to the powerful historical drama “12 Years a Slave.”) But “Everything Everywhere All at Once” hasn’t just had the biggest sweep in 15 years — it’s also kinda the biggest winner in 95 years.

Who’s Above The Line, Anyway?

In Hollywood, the term “above the line” refers to the most prominent creative talent attached to the film. Usually, that means the actors, the writer(s), the director(s), and the producer(s). While everyone involved in making a movie has a very important job, these are often the most forward-facing people involved in the production and are often — though not always fairly — considered the most important people in the production.

As such, the Oscars for “above the line” talent tend to be the categories that get the most attention, the most press, and the most interest from audience members who don’t keep track of technical craftspersons like cinematographers, editors, and visual effects artists. And as such, the films that sweep the “above the line” categories tend to be considered the biggest winners of the Oscars.

This is why “Everything Everywhere All at Once” is the biggest winner in 95 years. No other film in history has won as many above-the-line Oscars as it has. With six above-the-line wins for best picture, director, actress, original screenplay, and best supporting actor and actress, “Everything Everywhere All at Once” officially topples the rather long list of films that won five of the top categories. What films are on that list? “Gone with the Wind,” “The Silence of the Lambs,” “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” “The Best Years of Our Lives,” “From Here to Eternity,” “On the Waterfront,” “It Happened One Night,” “Mrs. Miniver,” and “Going My Way.”

It may not have won the most Oscars ever — that honor still goes to “Titanic,” “The Return of the King,” and “Ben-Hur” — but “Everything Everywhere All at Once” won most of the biggest Oscars, and more importantly, it won more of those than any other film ever. Now that’s what I call a “best picture.”

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The post Everything Everywhere All At Once is the Biggest Oscar Winner Since Slumdog Millionaire, And Maybe Ever appeared first on /Film.

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