LOS ANGELES — The writing-and-directing duo the Daniels won double Oscars on a dominant night for “Everything Everywhere All at Once.”
In victories that were entirely expected Sunday but might have seemed like a sci-fi fantasy a year ago, Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert won Academy Awards for best director and best original screenplay, two of seven won by their multiversal dramedy. The Daniels topped talented fields that included Hollywood royalty Steven Spielberg in both categories.
“There is greatness in every single person,” Kwan said as he accepted best director. “It doesn’t matter who we are. There is genius in every single person, you just have to find it. Thank you to the people who unlocked my genius.”
But Kwan assured his young son he would not foist similar expectations on him.
“This is not normal, this is kind of crazy,” he said. “I will love you no matter what.”
The Daniels came into the night the favorites for the directing Oscar, and “ Everything Everywhere All at Once,” the top nominee with 11, had immense awards season momentum. It also won best picture, best actress for Michelle Yeoh, best supporting actor for Ke Huy Quan and best supporting actress for Jamie Lee Curtis.
Scheinert dedicated the director Oscar to “all the mommies in the world,” and to his own parents.
“Thank you for not squashing my creativity when I was making really disturbing horror films or really perverted comedy films or dressing in drag as a kid, which is a threat to nobody,” he said.
When they won for screenplay, Scheinert railed off the names of his favorite 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.”
Each 35 years old, the Daniels were the youngest and least experienced filmmakers in a group of directing nominees that also included 76-year-old Spielberg (“The Fabelmans”), 48-year-old Ruben Östlund (“Triangle of Sadness”) 59-year-old Todd Field (“Tár”) and 52-year-old Martin McDonagh (“The Banshees of Inisherin”).
Their wins come almost exactly a year after the film’s release. The Daniels’ only previous feature was the oddball dead-body comedy “Swiss Army Man.” At the time it might have seemed a pipedream that such a pair would win the best director Oscar that has eluded star filmmakers 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.
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 and Yeoh winning and Hsu losing to castmate Curtis.
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.
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 had once been expected to cruise through awards season with his autobiographical “The Fabelmans,” but the late surge in affection for “Everything Everywhere All at Once” proved too much.
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 historic norm of nominating male directors only.
Follow AP Entertainment Writer Andrew Dalton on Twitter: https://twitter.com/andyjamesdalton
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