Movies & TV / Columns

411 Movies/TV Fact or Fiction: Should Everything Everywhere All At Once Win Best Picture?

March 11, 2023 | Posted by Jake Chambers
Everything Everywhere All At Once Image Credit: A24

Welcome back to the 411mania Movies/TV Fact or Fiction. I’m your host Jake Chambers.

Yes, I’ve invaded for the Movies/TV Zone second year in a row right before the Academy Awards to Fact or Fiction it up with one of the best.

Please give a 20-minute Cannes standing ovation to the stupendous Jeremy Thomas – a writer and editor who frequents all the realms of 411 with regular wrestling reviews and previews, and my favorite weekly column in all the internet – his box office report!

So now, like the ending montage of Babylon, let us contemplate all the profound meanings the movie-going experience has on our mortal souls.

Statement #1: You hope Everything Everywhere All At Once wins Best Picture at the Academy Awards.

Jeremy Thomas: FACT – Considering it was my #1 film of 2022, I think it’s fair to say I want it to win Best Picture!  But that’s not the only reason. EEAAO is up against some very deserving Best Picture nominees including its main competition in The Banshees of Inisherin, but I do really hope the Daniels’ film takes home the statuette.  It’s likely to, but it’s also a really idiosyncratic movie that takes really wild swings.  And that’s exactly the kind of movie Hollywood should be championing.  I love Inisherin and its deft thematic touches, but despite the violence it feels like a very “safe” Oscar pick.  So do The Fabelmans, TAR, Women Talking, and even Elvis to some degree.  And while I wouldn’t at all mind a Top Gun: Maverick win, it’s not going to.

On the other hand, EEAAO is the opposite of a safe pick.  It’s the kind of dynamic, creative movie that flies in the face of the sentiment that “Hollywood only makes blockbusters and Oscar bait.”  I also wouldn’t mind an All Quiet on the Western Front win because of how rarely international films get the win, but my heart and my mind are cheering on the one that combines hot dog fingers and dildo fights, themes of generational trauma, and absolutely top-level craft from every corner.

Jake Chambers: FICTION – Of all the movies Jeremy mentioned above, he forgot one, and strangely it feels like everyone else has too. There’s a certain $2.5 billion elephant in the room that more people on Earth have probably seen and enjoyed than all the other nominated movies combined: Avatar – The Way of Water. In a year when Top Gun – Maverick is celebrated for saving the theater-going experience, Avatar said “hold my ginger tea” and defied all the doubt that an original concept, sci-fi, sequel to a decade-old movie that everyone seemed to think was lame could pull people into IMAX 3-D theaters around the world in the record numbers it needed to break even. Not only did it do that but it was pretty awesome, has probably the greatest action set piece ever put on film, arguably defies more screenwriting conventions than even EEAAO, and did it all while basically being an animated movie that fools your eye into thinking it’s real. In 2023, when the Oscars are desperately grasping for any kind of critical, cultural, or commercial relevance, I hope they will recognize the spectacle and wonder that the whole world felt when a true blockbuster was executed at such an excellent level.

Statement #2: Tom Cruise should have received a Best Actor nomination for this role in Top Gun – Maverick.

Jeremy Thomas: FICTION – No shade to Cruise, who knocked his performance out of the park (like he usually does).  He returned smoothly to the role of Maverick and layered in the age and maturity that the character needed from the years between the first film and now.  But it’s also a very conventional character, and I don’t think the performance was Oscar-level.  More importantly, who do you remove and put in his place?  Certainly not Austin Butler or Brendan Fraser, nor Colin Farrell.  I could see people making an argument for Bill Nighy or Paul Mescal, but with all due respect people who say that more likely than not haven’t seen Living or Aftersun.  There are years where Cruise’s performance in Maverick would have earned him a nomination; he could have easily bumped Javier Bardem’s Being the Ricardos performance off the nominee list last year, for example.  But this wasn’t one of those years.

Jake Chambers: FACT – The Oscars loves to retroactively award acting legends for lesser roles to compensate for totally and ridiculously missing out on their best or most iconic performances. Top Gun Maverick isn’t Scent of a Woman or The Revenant – this is one of Tom Cruise’s biggest and best movies and he deserved to not only be nominated but to win. There is a tendency to assume great “ac-tors” must play a musician or historical figure, or go through some showy range of exaggerated emotion. Critics and award shows want to look down on acting “cool” like that is somehow easier than fake crying over some tragedy or doing a convincing accent. Brendan Fraser or Colin Farrell could not have done Top Gun Maverick, and they are probably bigger, cooler guys than the short, weird Tom Cruise in real life. The Academy Awards need to start acknowledging the work of actors that most people really love to watch, like Cruise, Keanu Reeves, Vin Diesel, Gerrard Butler and motherfucking Jason Mamoa, before they have to resort to more Jerry Springer like stunts just to hang on to any kind of interested audience.

Statement #3: Men and women should compete equally for one best acting award.

Jeremy Thomas: FICTION – This is tricky as hell.  On one hand, I do see the importance of combining categories for people who don’t want to be defined by gender.  On the other hand, it could also take away the opportunities that a lot of women and non-binary actors have for nominations because the roles that are written in Hollywood aren’t in parity right now.  It’s improving obviously, but the best roles and the most leading roles are still written for male-presenting people; a study showed that 85% of films had more male than female characters.

It’s for that reason that I honestly don’t think Hollywood is ready yet for combined gender-neutral acting categories.  I think eventually the Oscars need to go that way, and they can avoid winnowing down award opportunities by changing from Actor/Actress to something along the lines of Comedy Performance/Dramatic Performance or the like. But for now, there needs to be more work done to achieve parity who are getting good roles before we take that step.

Jake Chambers: FACT – I think we all can agree with Jeremy about the lack of parity and strong leading roles for women, but my opinion this is never going to change by sticking with the status quo. A statement needs to be made about equality and the Oscars would be a good place to do it. This isn’t the Olympics, there is no gender difference in the ability it takes to act in a movie so there is no need to divide the categories. If the biggest fear is that men will dominant the Best Acting award every year, then maybe that’s what we need to shock the system into creating better roles for women in Hollywood.


Statement #4: James Gunn was a good choice to helm the creative side of DC Studios.

Jake Chambers: FICTION – He’s an okay choice, but a safe one. Feels weird to say, since he’s a director who was not too long ago plucked from B-movie obscurity to make a D-level Marvel comic into a fantastic movie. He probably has some unique takes on the characters he’s already announced for the first slate of DC Movies and TV under his creative control, with likely some of his signature brand of campy-dark comedy like we saw in The Suicide Squad and Peacemaker. Gunn’s status as a mid-range director on a second life from cancelation, looking to prove he can bring in billion dollar blockbusters to a struggling corporation, does put him in the position to make some mainstream-leaning decisions. But DC doesn’t need safe, they need insane. And, in my opinion, there was one truly insane option that would have turned DC on its head: Michael Bay!

Jeremy Thomas: FACT – Gunn is undoubtedly a safe choice, but he’s also a bold one too.  He has managed to straddle that line between standard blockbuster conventions and his own offbeat sensibilities, and that’s exactly what the DCU needs.  Going too safe gives us films like the hodgepodge version Justice League and Green Lantern, but going too far into your own sensibilities gives us the likes of Zack Snyder’s Justice League which was never going to succeed financially the way that the studios wanted them to.  Gunn can thread that needle very well, and the projects that have been announced give me that hope.  You have a sound strategy of building films around established heroes like Superman: Legacy and The Brave and the Bold, but also wild choices like The Authority which digs deep to find an ultra-violent project.  (I’m VERY excited to see Apollo and Midnighter on the big screen.)  The same can be seen in the TV series with an animated Creature Commandos alongside Waller and Lanterns.  This feels like a savvy mix of mainstream choices and strange experiments, and I’m here for it.  Also, no thanks on Mr. Bay — we don’t need to finally be rid of Snyder’s obsession with slow-mo, only to see it replaced with low angle shots as far as the eye can see.

Statement #5: With so many TV shows and streaming series in 2022, you felt like the best show of the year was something that got very little attention.

Jake Chambers: FACT – Primal. Why are people not parading in the streets at the end of every episode of this triumphant, prehistoric, animated masterpiece? Genndy Tartakovsky, arguably the greatest animation storyboarder alive, who already has one semi-silent classic under his belt in Samurai Jack, is working at his full power on the no holds barred, no dialogue, no nonsense story of a badass caveman and his dinosaur friend. The creativity and style on display in the animation, storytelling, and action choreography is unlike anything on TV. Please watch this show people, I need it to continue on indefinitely – even as the supposedly proposed anthology format going forward.

Jeremy Thomas: FACT – I don’t know how much this counts as “very little attention,” because Prime Video gave it a strong promotional push, it was a success on a business level, and in the community I frequent it got a lot of attention.  But that community is still fringe from the mainstream so I’m going with it: The Legend of Vox Machina.  The animated adaptation of Critical Role had a VERY difficult task it condensing dozens if not over a hundred hours of D&D gameplay that its fans adore into about five hours of animated storyline, and they did it perfectly. The CR crew captured the humor, heart, action and thrills of their D&D play and did it in a way that made it easy for new viewers, who haven’t seen a single second of the actual play streams, to jump right in and not ever feel lost.  If people haven’t checked it out and you enjoy fantasy and animated content with an adult sense of humor, I can’t recommend it enough (or the second season, which arrived in January).

That’s a great choice from Jeremy – definitely another epic show that felt lost in the 2022 peak TV avalanche.

Thanks again to the esteemed Mr. Thomas – be sure to join 411 on Sunday night for all the Academy Award shenanigans!

What do you think deserves the Best Picture Award this year? Let us know in the comments below!