"Everything Everywhere All at Once" was everywhere when Oscar nominations were announced Tuesday morning in Los Angeles. The parallel-universe adventure leads a spread-out field with 11 nods.
Released in the Oscar dead zone of spring 2022, "Everything" prevailed over the prestigious, end-of-the-year contenders because of strong showings in both the acting and craft categories, in addition to best picture and director (Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, collectively known as "the Daniels").
Michelle Yeoh, playing a laundromat owner who becomes a kind of superhero, is a best actress nominee. Stephanie Hsu, as her daughter, and Jamie Lee Curtis, as her frenemy, will compete for best supporting actress. And Ke Huy Quan, who plays her husband, is up for supporting actor. His face may not be familiar to moviegoers, who have not seen it much since he made a splash nearly 40 years ago as a child actor in "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" and "The Goonies."
Individuals with the most nominations include producer/writer/directors who were nominated in all three categories: Martin McDonagh for "The Banshees of Inisherin," Todd Field for "Tár" and the Daniels for "Everything."
"All Quiet on the Western Front," from Netflix, earned a surprising nine nominations. The German World War I drama is a best picture contender, but most of its nominations are in categories such as visual effects and cinematography. The other eight best picture contenders include the year's two biggest box office hits, "Avatar: The Way of Water" and "Top Gun: Maverick," which helped lure moviegoers back to multiplexes after a COVID-19 pause.
Tom Cruise will contend for a trophy as one of the producers of "Maverick," but he missed out on an acting nomination. Will Smith, who played an enslaved man in "Emancipation," also didn't earn a nomination. He is banned from attending the awards for 10 years after slapping host Chris Rock at last year's ceremony. Instead, all five best actor contenders are first-timers, including "The Whale" star Brendan Fraser and Irish actor Paul Mescal, who gives a raw performance as a grieving dad in "Aftersun."
In the nomination phase of the awards, each branch chooses its own contenders, before the whole body votes on winners. Actors showed lots of support for not just "Everything" but also "Banshees," with nine nods including all four leads: Colin Farrell for actor, Brendan Gleeson and Barry Keoghan for supporting actor and Kerry Condon for supporting actress.
Condon will compete with Angela Bassett, who becomes the first performer in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to earn an acting nomination, for "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever."
One of the biggest gasps of the announcement event came with a shocker in the best actress category. Andrea Riseborough was nominated for the obscure "To Leslie," which barely made a blip in pre-Oscars talk. The Brit had been talked up by powerful Hollywood folks, including Gwyneth Paltrow and Kate Winslet, who drew attention to her work at industry screenings.
Or maybe the gasp was because the inclusion of Riseborough and Ana de Armas, who plays Marilyn Monroe in "Blonde" (competing against "The Fabelmans" star Michelle Williams, previously a contender for playing Monroe in "My Week With Marilyn") means we'll have to wait another year for a Black woman to win best actress. Both Viola Davis ("The Woman King") and Danielle Deadwyler ("Till") were touted for nominations but missed out in the category only won once by an African American, Halle Berry in 2002.
Also missing this year are female directors. The last two winners were women (Chloé Zhao for "Nomadland," Jane Campion for "Power of the Dog") but the directing field is all male, as it has been for most of its history. In addition to the Daniels, Field and McDonagh, contenders are Ruben Östlund, for "Triangle of Sadness," and previous winner Steven Spielberg for "Fabelmans."
Another surprise in the acting categories was Brian Tyree Henry, whose work in "Causeway" drew great reviews but little attention from awards prognosticators. Henry, best known as Phastos in Marvel movie "Eternals," plays half of an odd-couple friendship with Jennifer Lawrence in drama "Causeway."
"Causeway," "Aftersun" and "To Leslie" weren't the only titles nominated in major categories that may be unfamiliar to movie fans. "Triangle of Sadness," from Swedish writer/director Östlund, won the top prize at last year's Cannes Film Festival, but hasn't done much business in the U.S. The drama about class warfare that occurs after a cruise ship disaster will get a boost from its three nods, including best picture.
The inclusion of a wide variety of films, rather than one or two dominant ones, may reflect the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science's much-touted effort to include more younger voters, foreign voters, women and people of color. Sixteen of the 20 acting contenders are first-time nominees.
That breadth is even more evident in best picture, where nominees range from the sixth-highest-grossing film in history, "Avatar: The Way of Water," with $2 billion in the bank and counting, to "Women Talking," which has earned just $1 million.