Los Angeles: The absurdist sci-fi comedy “Everything Everywhere All At Once” continued to sweep the Hollywood award shows, earning top honors from the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) on Sunday.
The film follows a Chinese-American family undergoing a tax audit who end up battling a universe-hopping supervillain. It won best actress for Michelle Yeoh, best supporting actor for Ke Huy Quan, and best supporting actress for Jamie Lee Curtis.
The movie’s 94-year-old patriarch, James Hong, stole the show at Sunday’s gala by collecting the night’s final prize for best cast in a motion picture – the star-studded ceremony’s equivalent of best film.
During his acceptance speech, Hong reflected on how Hollywood once cast white actors with “their eyes taped up” to play leading Asian roles because producers thought “the Asians are not good enough and they are not box office.” “But look at us now, huh?” he said, to a huge ovation.
The SAG prizes from the actors’ union round out a month in which “Everything Everywhere” has won best film from directors’ and producers’ groups too, making it the firm favorite for the Oscars next month.
Voted on by more than 120,000 members of Hollywood’s acting union, the SAG awards are an important precursor for the Academy Awards, whose largest voting bloc is also actors.
Other winners from the mainly Asian cast of “Everything Everywhere” also spoke about Hollywood’s long struggle with diversity.
“This isn’t just for me, this is for every little girl who looks like me,” said Yeoh.
Quan, who took a long hiatus from acting after appearing as a child in 1984’s “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” because there “were so few opportunities,” noted he was the first Asian actor to win his category. “When I heard this, I quickly realized that this moment no longer belongs to just me. It also belongs to everyone who has asked for change,” he said.
Brendan Fraser, who won best lead actor, was the only performer from a film other than “Everything Everywhere” to win a movie prize Sunday. Fraser, one of Hollywood’s biggest stars in the late 1990s and early 2000s with hits like “The Mummy,” endured a long fallow period before being cast as a morbidly obese teacher in “The Whale.”
In the television sections, “The White Lotus” won the top drama prize, and “Abbott Elementary” was named best comedy ensemble.
The awards come amid growing pressure on Hollywood to address diversity and inclusion in the entertainment industry. “Everything Everywhere All At Once” and its predominantly Asian cast are a sign of progress in this regard, with the film’s success showing that audiences are ready for a wider range of stories and perspectives. The Oscars, taking place on March 12, will provide a final test of this theory.