The theme of last year’s Vancouver Asian Film Festival was “Representation Matters”.
Today, representation of Asian actors took a giant leap forward with the release of the Academy Awards nominations.
Leading the pack is Everything Everywhere All at Once with 11 nominations, including best picture.
It revolves around a Chinese American immigrant named Evelyn Quan, played by Michelle Yeoh, who operates a laundry with her husband. As the Internal Revenue Service pursues Quan, she’s trying to connect with a parallel-universe version of herself to save the multiverse.
Everything Everywhere All at Once is a genre-busting film combining martial arts, animation, comedy, and science fiction.
The Malaysian-born Yeoh is among the nominees for best actress after already winning the Golden Globe in this category.
In addition, Vietnamese American actor Ke Huy Quan, who plays her meek husband Waymond Wang, is up for the Oscar for best supporting actor. And American Stephanie Hsu, who plays Evelyn’s daughter Joy, is nominated for best supporting actress.
The IRS inspector, played by American Jamie Lee Curtis, is also nominated for best supporting actress.
The film’s other Oscar nominations include best directing and best original screenplay (Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheniert), best editing (Paul Rogers), best music original score (Son Lux), best original song (“This Is a Life” by Ryan Lott, David Byrne, and Mitski with lyrics by Ryan Lott), and best costume design (Shirley Kurata).
Video: Watch Domee Shi’s interview about representation with The National on CBC.
Representation reflected in other nominations
Hsu is one of two Asian Americans nominated for best supporting actress. Hong Chau, who’s of Vietnamese ancestry, earned her first Oscar nomination for her role in The Whale.
In 2017, Chau was widely expected to be nominated for her role in Downsizing. However, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science members snubbed her after she had been nominated for a Golden Globe Award and Screen Actors Guild Award for best supporting actress.
Meanwhile, Canadian Domee Shi was co-nominated with Lindsey Collins for best animated film at this year’s Oscars for Turning Red. It showcased Toronto in a story about a 13-year-old Chinese Canadian girl going through puberty.
In 2019, the Chongqing-born Shi won the Oscar for best animated short film for “Bao”.
This year’s Academy Awards will be presented on March 12.