First of all, the Oscars don’t mean anything anymore. It’s a ceremony that’s basically just a platform for Hollywood elites to get political about stuff. I don’t really care that Michelle Yeoh was first Asian to win the Oscar because I don’t care about the Oscars. I know there’s been a lot of great Asian performers over the years.
For example.. Chow Yun Fat in God of Gamblers
Andy Lau and Maggie Cheung in As Tears Go By
Leslie Cheung in A Better Tomorrow
Tony Leung in In the Mood for Love
Moon Lee in Iron Angel
Sammo Hung in Encounters of a Spooky Kind
Joey Wong in Chinese Ghost Story
And this is just for HK, where in the 80s and 90s it was home to some of the greatest Asian actors and actresses of the time, where Michelle Yeoh cut her teeth as an actress.
So, that’s one thing. The second thing is – the film is it that good? Personally, I think it’s a fine movie but it’s not as great as winning 7 Oscars would lead you to believe.
First of all let’s get this out of the way – it’s a far more original movie than Crazy Rich Asians, the movie which opened up more acting opportunities for Asian Americans (Ke Huy Quan specifically cites it as the reason he un-retired). Crazy Rich Asians wasn’t an interesting film by any means except for just being historic for having an all-Asian American cast for the first time since Joy Luck Club. EEAAO is a more interesting movie exploring philosophy, nihilism and absurdism.
I think it’s a movie that needs to be rewatched several times to find the hidden meanings because the movie has quite a fast pace. Evelyn goes from jaded unhappy wife and laundromat owner to multi-dimensional hopper in a fairly short time. Sometimes I think the film could have benefitted from a longer runtime because I felt the pacing was too much at times, there is a lot of jumping around and it’s easy to miss things. Another thing is some parts are just pretty silly. Like the hot dog fingers, raccoon guy, the dildos etc these are things that kind of hurt it if you bring it up in all time movies discussions since it has these silly comedic bits in it. I think Michelle, Ke and Stephanie were all great actors. I think the editing was very good as well.
But is it an all time movie like the award count would suggest? No. It’s one of the most interesting movies of the 2020s, I’ll give it that. But all time? nope.
Hirokazu Koreeda’s I Wish had more emotional impact and better storytelling for me
Same with Bong Joon-ho’s Mother
Lee Chang Dong’s Burning also had many layers of complexity which required multiple rewatches
Park Chan Wook’s Handmaiden had a more interesting setting
Or the emotional struggles in Wong Kar Wai’s Days of Being Wild
These are just some of the other Asian films I thought about.
And that’s not to mention all time films like 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Godfather, Sunset Boulevard, Mr Smith goes to Washington, The Apartment, Shawshank Redemption, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Lawrence of Arabia, Vertigo, Rear Window, Treasure of Sierra Madre, Casablanca, On the Waterfront, The Searchers, Schindler’s List etc it’s definitely not at that level either.