It's been a year since "Everything Everywhere All at Once" premiered at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas. No one proclaimed it an Oscar contender then. But that was before it became a box office hit, before we were reintroduced to Ke Huy Quan, before Jamie Lee Curtis turned into a weapon of mass promotion.
Now, on the eve of the Oscars, this loopy, frenetic family drama appears poised to win best picture, along with several other awards.
If it duplicates its showing at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, netting individual honors for Quan and Curtis along with star Michelle Yeoh, "Everything Everywhere All at Once" would become just the third movie to win three acting Oscars. (The others: "A Streetcar Named Desire" and "Network.")
That would be a lot, particularly because in the last decade or so, Oscar voters have spread the love each year among several movies. The last best picture winner to take more than four Oscars? That was "The Artist" in 2012, a triumph that, like many other moments in Oscar history, hasn't aged particularly well.
The thing is, it feels like ages since "Everything Everywhere All at Once" lost. Anything. The movie swept through the Producers Guild, the Directors Guild, the Screen Actors Guild and the Independent Spirit awards. How many hot dog finger high-fives will be happening at the 95th Academy Awards on Sunday? Here are my final predictions.
"All Quiet on the Western Front"
"Avatar: The Way of Water"
"The Banshees of Inisherin"
"Everything Everywhere All at Once"
"Top Gun: Maverick"
"Triangle of Sadness"
Will win: "Everything Everywhere All at Once"
As voting began, I was on the phone with a motion picture academy member who insisted that despite its awards season dominance, "Everything Everywhere All at Once" would not win best picture. So what's going to win, I asked. After a long silence, they replied, "I don't know. But it can't be that."
For a lot of academy members, "Everything Everywhere All at Once," with its googly eyed rocks, hot dog fingers and weaponized dildos, has been a test of both their patience and belief in traditional storytelling. I find that reaction weirder than anything in the movie. At its heart, "Everything Everywhere" is a classic tale of a marriage coming apart and a family that needs healing. It's a broadside against despair and nihilism. It practically ends with a group hug, and watching that, feeling that, has been therapeutic for a lot of people, many of whom vote for awards.
Martin McDonagh, "The Banshees of Inisherin"
Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (aka Daniels), "Everything Everywhere All at Once"
Steven Spielberg, "The Fabelmans"
Todd Field, "Tár"
Ruben Östlund, "Triangle of Sadness"
Will win: Kwan and Scheinert
Could surprise: Spielberg
The other grievance — usually aired by people not old enough to know better — is that if "The Fabelmans" had been directed by anyone other than Spielberg, it wouldn't have been interesting. That's like arguing that Paul McCartney's touching tribute to John Lennon, "Here Today," wouldn't be as affecting if it had been written by another songwriter. Guess what? Artists have legacies. And one of the abiding pleasures in following a filmmaker or actor over time is the relationship you build with their work. Every movie Spielberg has made is personal. With "The Fabelmans," it just went deeper, with Spielberg taking a tough, tender look at his parents and examining how art can help you work through pain while simultaneously providing a measure of remove. It's a terrific movie on every level — and one that doesn't look like it'll make good on any of its seven Oscar nominations.
Cate Blanchett, "Tár"
Ana de Armas, "Blonde"
Andrea Riseborough, "To Leslie"
Michelle Williams, "The Fabelmans"
Michelle Yeoh, "Everything Everywhere All at Once"
Will win: Yeoh
Could surprise: Blanchett
All the momentum appears to be with Yeoh and, outside of those triggered by the playful creativity of "Everything Everywhere All at Once," I think most people would enjoy seeing her at the podium. And yet ... this race reminds me a bit of the year Anthony Hopkins won a second Oscar for his magnificent work in "The Father," prevailing over sentimental favorite Chadwick Boseman. Is Blanchett so awe-inspiring as the monstrous maestro in "Tár" that she can overcome the "Everything Everywhere All at Once" steamroller? Maybe. But she does already have two Oscars and hasn't seemed particularly invested in winning a third. And as Yeoh serves as the spiritual center of her beloved movie, I think she has the edge.
Austin Butler, "Elvis"
Colin Farrell, "The Banshees of Inisherin"
Brendan Fraser, "The Whale"
Paul Mescal, "Aftersun"
Bill Nighy, "Living"
Will win: Butler
Could surprise: Fraser
If Fraser prevailed for "The Whale," would it become the worst movie to feature an Oscar-winning performance? Let's just say that it'd be in the conversation. Not everyone agrees, of course. Fraser did win the Screen Actors Guild Awards honor for a stirring performance in a hateful film almost completely lacking empathy and compassion. But "The Whale" did not earn a best picture nomination, partly because voters didn't want to subject themselves to its exploitative aesthetic. Those who tried watching it on the academy's portal found it dark and dingy. Did anyone make it through to the end?
Butler, meanwhile, delivered an electrifying star turn in "Elvis," a movie that earned eight Oscar nominations, including best picture. Sure, it's kind of funny that he still talks like Elvis. But if I had mastered that honeysuckle tone, I might not want to return so fast to my Orange County roots, either. Plus, did you see him walking Sally Field and Jennifer Coolidge onstage at the SAG Awards? Chivalry is not dead!
Angela Bassett, "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever"
Hong Chau, "The Whale"
Kerry Condon, "The Banshees of Inisherin"
Jamie Lee Curtis, "Everything Everywhere All at Once"
Stephanie Hsu, "Everything Everywhere All at Once"
Will win: Condon
Could surprise: Curtis
Let me state from the outset that I have no idea who is going to win this Oscar. Not long ago, I thought it'd be either Bassett or Curtis, women who haven't won many awards for decades of exemplary work. One of them could still win, though their similar narratives don't help their cause. And then there's this: Beginning with Patricia Arquette winning for "Boyhood" in 2015, the last eight winners of this category have taken the only Oscar from their film. It's a weird stat ... but supporting actress has long been a quirky category full of surprise winners. Just ask Marisa Tomei. And as I don't think "Banshees" is going to win anything else ..
Brendan Gleeson, "The Banshees of Inisherin"
Brian Tyree Henry, "Causeway"
Judd Hirsch, "The Fabelmans"
Barry Keoghan, "The Banshees of Inisherin"
Ke Huy Quan, "Everything Everywhere All at Once"
Will win: Quan
If you aren't familiar by now with Quan's comeback story or haven't cried along with him during one of the many speeches he's made while accepting awards for his masterful multiverse hopping in "Everything Everywhere All at Once," then you must be just waking up from a year-long coma. Go watch his movie. And then check out last year's Oscars. That thing between Will Smith and Chris Rock? It wasn't a scripted bit. – Los Angeles Times/Tribune News Service