“Everything Everywhere Shouldn’t Have Been Anywhere Near Best Picture. But What Else To Expect From Oh-So-woke Oscars?“, by The Daily Mail‘s Brian Viner (3.14.23):
“Not that there’s much of an overlap between the aging Academy members and those who understand TikTok, but maybe this is where those emperor’s new clothes come in: nobody over 50 wanted to declare themselves completely mystified by this self-indulgent exercise in cinematic whimsy from writer-directors Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, and so they all voted for it.”
“What Hollywood folk really understand is business. They know how lucrative the Far East market has become, hence the growing number of films with Chinese settings, characters and narratives. Even the animation studio Pixar jumped on that bandwagon with last year’s Turning Red, a film that follows a 13-year-old Chinese-Canadian girl who turns into a giant red panda.
“And they understand box-office numbers. Following a discreet launch last year at the South By Southwest film festival in Austin, Texas (a far cry from the mighty festivals of Cannes and Venice), EEAAO was given a limited theatrical release in the U.S., and in Britain almost didn’t make it into cinemas at all.
“But it quickly became a cult hit and then a genuine commercial hit, as [younger] audiences appeared to warm to its wackiness. With an estimated budget of less than $25 million (£21 million), it has so far grossed well over $100 million (£82 million) worldwide, with more box-office and home-streaming dollars certain to flood in following its Oscars success.
“For me that raises the mystery of who those appreciative audiences are. Several of my most cine-literate friends were left cold by EEAAO. One fell sound asleep and woke up only when it was all over, as if in firm defiance of the sensory bombardment that kicks in after the first 20 minutes or so. Another walked out thoroughly bemused after 45 minutes; only the third time in more than 50 years that he has ever left a cinema before the final credits. Even my son, very much part of that TikTok demographic, found it ‘challenging’ and ‘too much’.
“But [some] who work in the film industry love it unconditionally, at least if we are to believe in the Oscars. The thing is, though, I don’t.
“No film in the 95 years of the Academy Awards has ever won all four of the main acting prizes and only three have won three out of four: A Streetcar Named Desire in 1951, Network 25 years later, and now, remarkably, EEAAO. But it’s only remarkable because, quite clearly, this film does not belong in such illustrious company.
“Sure, Yeoh is terrific but Cate Blanchett in Tar gives a performance for the ages and should have won Best Actress, hands down.
“Jamie Lee Curtis had never been Oscar-nominated before, either, despite her long career and her own antecedents as the daughter of Hollywood royalty in Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh. That, in my view, is plainly why she got the nod for a somewhat cartoonish villain, when others were more deserving of the Best Supporting Actress prize. Excellent as Quan is, I also thought there were better candidates for Best Supporting Actor.
“Still, that’s how the Oscars work. They’re becoming more and more like The X Factor, with back stories capturing the voters’ imagination more than achievements on screen.”