LOS ANGELES, March 12 (Reuters) – “Everything Everywhere All at Once” won the coveted best picture trophy at the Academy Awards on Sunday as Hollywood embraced an off-kilter story about a Chinese-American family working out their problems across multiple dimensions.
The movie claimed seven awards overall, including three of the four acting Oscars for stars Michelle Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan and Jamie Lee Curtis. Yeoh played the lead role of a stressed-out laundromat owner who finds she has superpowers in alternate universes.
“For all the little boys and girls who look like me watching tonight, this is a beacon of hope and possibilities,” the 60-year-old Malaysian actress said on stage. “And ladies, don’t let anybody ever tell you you are ever past your prime.”
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“Everything Everywhere” was an improbable winner as a film that strayed far from traditional storytelling to spin a tale about a family at odds. The kung fu adventure was filled with oddities such as people with hot dogs for fingers and a chef with a raccoon under his hat. Plastic googly eyes and a giant everything bagel also played important roles.
Quan, a onetime child star who gave up acting for two decades, won best supporting actor for his portrayal of Yeoh’s disgruntled husband in a family grappling with a tax audit that threatens their business.
A weeping Quan, who was born in Vietnam, kissed his gold Oscar statuette as he held it on stage in front of the biggest names in show business.
“My journey started on a boat,” Quan said. “I spent a year in a refugee camp. Somehow I ended up here on Hollywood’s biggest stage.”
As a boy, Quan starred in a 1984 “Indiana Jones” movie and “The Goonies” in 1985. The 51-year-old said he had quit acting for years because he saw little opportunity for Asian actors on the big screen.
“They say stories like this only happen in the movies,” he added. “I cannot believe it’s happening to me. This is the American dream.”
Curtis, who built a career in horror films such as “Halloween,” won best supporting actress for playing a frumpy tax agent named Deirdre Beaubeirdre.
The 64-year-old Curtis looked upward and addressed her late parents, Academy award nominees Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh. “I just won an Oscar,” she said through tears.
“The Whale” star Brendan Fraser, known for 1990s roles such as “The Mummy” and “Encino Man,” won best actor for playing a severely obese man trying to reconnect with his daughter.
A German remake of World War One epic “All Quiet on the Western Front” was named best international feature. The movie, which streamed on Netflix (NFLX.O), depicts the horrors of trench warfare through the eyes of a young man initially keen to join the fight. It won four Oscars, second highest after “Everything Everywhere.”
Director Edward Berger thanked the film’s young star, Felix Kammerer, who joined him on stage.
“This was your first movie, and you carried us on your shoulders as if it was nothing,” Berger said.
“Navalny,” about the poisoning that nearly killed Alexei Navalny, Russia’s most prominent opposition leader, and his detention since his 2021 return to Moscow, won the Oscar for best feature documentary.
“Alexei, I am dreaming of the day when you will be free and our country will be free,” his wife, Yulia Navalnaya, said on stage. “Stay strong my love.”
“Naatu Naatu,” a song from the Indian movie “RRR” that created a viral dance sensation, was honored as best original song.
Independent studio A24, which released “Everything Everywhere” and “The Whale,” claimed nine awards, more than any other studio.
CRISIS RESPONSE TEAM ON HAND
A crisis response team was on hand in case of an unexpected twist. The group was formed after Will Smith smacked Chris Rock on stage last year, tarnishing the film industry’s most prestigious ceremony.
At the start of the show, two U.S. military aircraft flew over the Oscars theater, and host Jimmy Kimmel landed on the stage by parachute, in a tribute to best picture nominee “Top Gun: Maverick.”
Comedian Kimmel joked in his opening monologue about the audience reaction to Smith’s attack last year.
“If anything unpredictable or violent happens at the ceremony, just do what you did last year – nothing,” he told the crowd of A-list celebrities. “Maybe give the assailant a hug.”
Guillermo del Toro’s “Pinocchio” was named best animated feature.
The 95th Academy Awards ceremony was broadcast live on Walt Disney Co’s (DIS.N) ABC network. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences hoped to move past the slap and stage a glitzy show and boost sagging TV ratings.
Ahead of the awards, nominees dressed in designer gowns and tuxedos touted their movies on a champagne carpet in place of the traditional red.
Winners are voted on by the roughly 10,000 actors, producers, directors and film craftspeople who make up the film academy.
Reporting by Lisa Richwine; Additional reporting by Danielle Broadway, Dawn Chmielewski and Nichola Groom; Editing by Mary Milliken and Howard Goller
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