The Daniels doubled down on everything. It’s paid off in one of the most unlikely Best Director Oscar wins in history.
The directing duo of Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert took the elite filmmaking prize on Sunday night (March 12) for their multi-versal dramedy “Everything Everywhere All at Once”, topping a talented field that included Hollywood royalty Steven Spielberg.
The Daniels came into the night the favourites for the Oscar, and their film, the top nominee with 11, had immense awards season momentum, making the victory no surprise.
Seven Oscars for ‘Everything Everywhere’
It was the third Oscar of the night for the duo, who also won best picture and best original screenplay, among seven statuettes their film won on Sunday night, including best actress for Michelle Yeoh, best supporting actor for Ke Huy Quan and best supporting actress for Jamie Lee Curtis.
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When they won the earlier Oscar, Scheinert railed off the names of his favourite school teachers, saying, “You guys all inspired me and taught me to be less of a butthead.”
And Kwan said, “My impostor syndrome is at an all-time high.” He called Scheinert “my confidence. He is the person who told me I was a storyteller before I believed it.”
The Daniels youngest among this year’s nominees for Best Director
Each 35 years old, the Daniels were the youngest and least-experienced filmmakers in a group of nominees that also included 76-year-old Spielberg (The Fabelmans), 48-year-old Ruben Ostlund (Triangle of Sadness), 59-year-old Todd Field (Tar), and 52-year-old Martin McDonagh (The Banshees of Inisherin).
Their win comes almost exactly a year after the film’s release. The Daniels’ only previous feature was the oddball dead-body comedy “Swiss Army Man”.
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At the time, it might have seemed a pipe dream that such a pair would win an award that has eluded star directors from Alfred Hitchcock to Ridley Scott to Quentin Tarantino.
But “Everything Everywhere”, which mixed the same kind of strangeness with elements of Hollywood sci-fi and action epics, stirred buzz – and inspired memes – from the start and became a magnet for awards in recent months.
Daniel Kwan third Asian-origin person to win directing Oscar
Kwan becomes the third winner of Asian descent to win a directing Oscar. Chloe Zhao and Bong Joon also won the prize. The film was a boon for Asian actors, who were cast in most of the major roles, including Michelle Yeoh, Stephanie Hsu, and Ke Huy Quan, all of whom got Oscar nominations, with Quan winning and Yeoh’s best actress category still to be presented.
The Daniels are the third directing duo to win an Oscar. Jerome Robbins and Robert Wise won for the original “West Side Story” in 1962, and brothers Joel and Ethan Coen won for “No Country for Old Men” in 2008.
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They are also among the youngest to win the award. “La La Land” director Damien Chazelle was the youngest at 32 in 2017.
Last month, they won the Directors Guild of America Award, which has proven to be a strong predictor of Oscar victory.
Spielberg was once expected to cruise through the awards season with his autobiographical “The Fabelmans”, but the late surge in affection for “Everything Everywhere All at Once” proved too much.
The Daniels met in college
Scheinert, from Birmingham, Alabama, and Kwan, from Westborough, Massachusetts, met while studying film at Emerson College in Boston. They began their career making music videos before moving on to features, occasionally directing episodes of television.
There were no female directors nominated in the category. After two years of trend-bucking with back-to-back wins for women in the category, the Academy returned to its usual norm of nominating male directors only.
(With inputs from agencies)