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The Daily Californian's Arts Awards: Film of 2022

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DECEMBER 13, 2022

Best Motion Picture

Winner: “Everything Everywhere All At Once”

“Everything Everywhere All At Once,” directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, stands out for telling the tale of the troubles of a Chinese-American family while simultaneously serving as an action-packed science fiction spectacle. In its chaotic and utterly cinematic style, the film delivers the poignant story of Evelyn Quan Wang (Michelle Yeoh) and her daughter (Stephanie Hsu) navigating their individual identities, which often come in conflict with each other. The multiverse premise tackles what could have been, something that becomes even more powerful when applied to an immigrant family that left lives behind in another country.

Perhaps the best part of “Everything Everywhere All At Once” is its originality and irreverence, where a large black hole/everything bagel holds the same weight as the fragile and fraught familial relationships that the film depicts. A stellar cast supports each of the equally complex strands of the multiverse in the film, including Ke Huy Quan, Jamie Lee Curtis and Jenny Slate.

Released as the world transitioned out of a life-pausing pandemic, “Everything Everywhere All At Once” feels like a meditation on collective nihilism and hopelessness. In exploring infinite possibilities in the multiverse, the characters in the film find themselves appreciating the comforts of home — settling back in their lives with a heightened sense of appreciation for laundry and taxes.

— Megha Ganapathy

Photo from A24 film.

Runner-up: “Tár”

Some 16 years have lapsed between the release of “Tár” and Todd Field’s prior directorial effort, but one of the most astonishing parts of “Tár” is how Field hasn’t missed a step. “Tár,” a keen assessment of its moment, uses the much-lauded Lydia Tár as a lens through which Field views everything from classical music’s challenges revising its canon to its evidently imbalanced system.

Calling it Field’s film, however, is inadequate; this is a film that, so masterfully made, resists auteurism. It’s aestheticized, bold — a unified image that presents itself as one of the best products of craft of the year.

Dominic Marziali

Best Animated Feature

Winner: “Marcel the Shell with Shoes On”

This year, audiences said hello to “Marcel the Shell with Shoes On” in theaters. If the off-beat title is not enough, Marcel, played by Jenny Slate, has a coltish charm that will quickly warm the hearts of even the most hard-shelled individuals. The blend of live-action and stop motion is nothing new (1954’s “Godzilla” would like a word), but this 2022 installment to the genre has brought a new spirit of keen charisma.

Soft light and a peculiar domesticity insulate the atmosphere of Dean Fleischer Camp’s feature-length directorial debut. Years after Marcel’s family disappeared, leaving only him and his grandma Connie, he is discovered by the melancholic documentarian Dean. Rarely offering an explanation for the “hows” and “whys” (How was Marcel created? Why is he so cute?), the film trusts the audience to explore the world on their own, readily offering only the “whos” and “whats” — the answers being, of course, Marcel, a shell, who has shoes on. 

“Marcel the Shell with Shoes On” is nectarean — golden in a lemon-honey tea sort of way. Glimmers of quiet domesticity play with a clever concoction of dry wit and a childlike humor. Yes, it is a story about a tiny shell with a singular googly eye and pink sneakers. Yet, its musings on love, grief and family ground it so deeply in reality that it is a struggle to imagine a more human film. Never idealistic, always delightful, “Marcel” captures honest tranquility in an unexpectedly endearing package.

Afton Okwu

Photo from A24 Film

Runner-up: “Turning Red”

Pixar’s “Turning Red” embarks on a whimsical coming-of-age story bursting with early-2000s nostalgia and fluffy, magical red pandas. Director Domee Shi perfectly encapsulates the unrelenting, boy-band-obsessed confusion of pre-teen adolescence, channeling the awkward period of change into an ancestral gift (or curse) passed down through generations of women entering adulthood. 

As impending womanhood quite literally transforms Meilin Lee (Rosalie Chiang) into a red panda, the textbook perfectionist and devoted daughter must find a way to balance her predicament, 4*Town infatuation and increasingly complicated relationship with her mother, Ming Lee (Sandra Oh). 

Merging fantastical, nostalgic fun with the heart-wrenching realities of a changing mother-daughter relationship, “Turning Red” is guaranteed to leave any viewer in reflective tears, while also convincing them to call their mom and play 4*Town’s “Nobody Like You” on an endless loop.

— Blake Ling

Best Documentary

Winner: “Tony Hawk: Until the Wheels Fall Off”

The best documentaries are honest — uninhibited in their inquisitive nature and relentless in their telling of both story and truth. With intimate personal interviews and gritty footage from the ‘80s, “Tony Hawk: Until the Wheels Fall Off” masterfully condenses skateboard legend Tony Hawk’s 10,000 hour grind into a clean two hours and 15 minutes. But through all the edits, cuts and scrapes inherent to both movie-making and professional skateboarding, director Sam Jones never loses his journalistic integrity. 

From cradle to ramp, viewers watch as Hawk traverses the trials and tribulations of each new life stage — all while mercilessly practicing to perfect his 900. Whether it be vicious childhood bullies, rocky romantic relationships, or several near-death injuries that stand in Hawk’s way, the icon proves time and time again that his ruthless work ethic renders him immune to failure. Regardless of viewers’ familiarity with skateboarding conventions, it’s hard not to root for Hawk after watching him perform a two-and-a-half rotation aerial spin and manage to land with his head on straight.

The documentary functions as both a magnifying glass and an observation deck, exploring the obsessive mind of its subject and the long-haul view of his journey to success. Navigating the wild world of skateboarding with as much enthusiasm as the arena’s participants, “Until the Wheels Fall Off” is not only the world’s longest “don’t try this at home” warning, but a thrilling source of inspiration for anyone who dares to dream big.

— Piper Samuels

Photo of Tony Hawk laying on the floor.

Runner-up: “Fire of Love” 

“Fire of Love” pulses with an ache. Directed by Sara Dosa, the documentary carries an Icarian sadness as it traces the lives of married volcanologists Katia and Maurice Krafft. In more than just name, the film unearths the sincere feeling of adoration which washes over the shots, the people, their relationship and their shared love for red volcanoes.

 From the beginning, “Fire of Love” lets viewers know that the couple do not make it out of this adventure alive. Yet, the film isn’t drearily tragic, and the sense of playfulness adopted for much of the exposition makes unexpected death an easy fate to forget. In their red hats and matching rosy cheeks, Katia and Maurice endear. The seasoned scientists exude a childlike wonder as they explore the natural world. Despite its fatalist destination, the narrative of “Fire of Love” conveys the planet’s scale and magnificence, inspiring viewers rather than devastating them.

— Maya Thompson

Best Actor

Winner: Ke Huy Quan, “Everything Everywhere All at Once”

After working as a stunt choreographer and assistant director for much of the 2000s, Ke Huy Quan’s return to acting after starring in “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” and “The Goonies” is an explosive one. At times armed with a fanny pack-turned-Wushu rope dart and at others with lovelorn, rain-soaked one-liners, the chameleon-esque role of Waymond Wang in “Everything Everywhere All At Once” slots in effortlessly with the actor’s kaleidoscopic charm. 

As readily as he trades khakis for red-carpet dress pants, Quan swaps fluidly from laundromat owner to interdimensional martial artist, grounding each persona in his rotating carousel of Waymonds with piercing acumen. Different as they may be, Quan’s varying renditions of his character transcend the fundamentals of a costume change; beyond embodying Waymond’s kindness in full, he brings astounding, multilayered heart to the story’s core. 

Playing opposite and parallel to Michelle Yeoh’s Evelyn Wang like flint and stone to the film’s blazing multi-universe fire, Quan spews both crucial advice and somber confessions with equal gravity. The sincerity of his approach and winsomeness of his versatility renders the actor a perfect companion to the movie’s dizzying zenith: Stealing scenes and grounding chaos, Quan’s fragmented yet ever-earnest performance is a candid portrait colored in gentility and urgency alike. It’s no wonder that his “laundry and taxes” quote has been enshrined for the ages.

— Esther Huang

Photo from A24 film.

Runner-up: Austin Butler, “Elvis”

The trajectory of biopics over the past decade is reminiscent of the weather patterns in “All Summer in a Day” — years and years of rain elapse until one day the sky splits open, blue as tile, and the sun burns for only two hours before the deluge resumes. The sunbeam in this instance glows through Austin Butler in his smoldering reincarnation of the King.

Heat is a canny image to understand Butler’s acting in Baz Luhrmann’s “Elvis.” Butler has said he approached the role hoping to thaw the legend and see the human, but his refraction of Elvis’ starpower shines too brightly to ignore. 

When Elvis performs, he perspires. Sweat coats his coiffed hair. It drips off his brow. It glistens on his cheek and quivers on his upper lip. It’s an unglamorous marker of Presley’s, and Butler’s, absolute commitment to labor and expression and artistry. The actor’s physicality is disarming and magnetic, a formidable centerpiece on which to hang Luhrmann’s operatic tale of sex, fame and American identity.

Maya Thompson

Best Actress

Winner: Michelle Yeoh, “Everything Everywhere All at Once”

It’s easy to get lost in the multidimensional extravagance of “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” an A24 film that revels in metaphysical chaos. Yet, amid hot dog fingers, a cosmic everything bagel and a surprising abundance of googly eyes, Michelle Yeoh’s Evelyn Wang is the central anchor, leveling the film’s absurdity with equal parts elegance and tenacity. 

Though she must embody a multitude of flawed identities — a struggling laundromat owner, a persistent Chinese American immigrant, a strained wife and mother — Yeoh never falters. Instead, she charges each moment with unbridled emotion, every abandoned aspiration and deep-rooted fear laid bare with agonizing vulnerability. 

As the film progresses, Evelyn explores a multiverse of alternative career paths as a chef, movie star, kung fu master and more. Traversing a genre-bending landscape that spans from romance and comedy to action and science fiction, Yeoh manages to play each “alternate” with nuance, yet assuredly maintain the essence of her original character — an impressive, nearly impossible feat.

— Anne Vertin

Photo of everything everywhere all at once.

Runner-up: Cate Blanchett, “Tár”

One way of locating power is identifying loneliness. This is how “Tár” chooses to represent its central figure, Cate Blanchett’s Lydia Tár. In Tár’s quest for canonical exaltation, like the dead men she molds herself after, she creates a transactional life. Look no further than the film’s opening interview to see, entirely played out through Blanchett’s hands, the games of exchange that Tár orchestrates. 

At the end of that interview, Tár tells interviewer Adam Gopnik that, in her interpretation of Gustav Mahler, she chose “love,” in contrast to her mentor Leonard Bernstein’s “tragedy.” Pressed for a runtime for the movement in question, she tosses her hands up and answers “Seven minutes.” Love doesn’t last long for Tár. It’s all about power. Blanchett shows viewers, with infinitesimal attention, how Tár loses sight of art.

— Dominic Marziali 


Best Supporting Actor

Winner: Steven Yeun, “Nope”

In a Wild West of unknown flying objects and mysterious horse disappearances, Steven Yeun is the cowboy we’ve been waiting for. 

Jordan Peele’s “Nope” was one of the most intriguing films of the year, bringing a fresh take on the horror genre alongside a healthy serving of cinematic spectacle. Yeun shines with understated gravitas as the former child actor turned theme park owner Ricky “Jupe” Park.

Notably, Yeun shines as a distinctly Asian American cowboy; his theme park and persona revolve around a commercialized and fantastical Wild West that sparks delight when paired with Yeun’s patent awkward charm. He crafts Jupe as a resolute yet at times hesitant entrepreneur, equally disarming and alarming. Jupe’s sinking obsession with his past trauma as a child television star and a new curated spectacle for his mini theme park spin a fascinating introspection into American spectacle.

While an accompaniment to the Haywood siblings’ quest for the “Oprah Shot” of an alien being, Yeun’s addictive charisma offers a critical spark to their twisted sci-fi adventure, leaving the audience wanting more from this textured cowboy. When the sparse theme park guests lean into Jupe’s bewitching speech, audiences will find themselves tilting forward in anticipation as well, viewers both on and off the screen caught in Yeun’s entrancing spell. 

Addison Lee

Photo of Universal Pictures Yeun.
(Universal Pictures/Courtesy)

Runner-up: Woody Harrelson, “Triangle of Sadness”

Pitch perfect casting glimmers as the crown jewel of Ruben Östlund’s wonderfully ridiculous, raunchy satire “Triangle of Sadness.” The film follows an eclectic throng of uber-rich Europeans onboard a superyacht steered by Woody Harrelson as the unnamed captain whose drinking problem proves to trouble the ship’s smooth sailing. While his luxury boat sways, rocks and heaves, Harrelson does not.

The film takes crude pains to show how the ship’s boss is also its black sheep. In short, the captain is a mess. He spends his days drinking alone in his room, away from the guests. When a belabored formal dinner goes awry, the captain, sozzled, takes over the PA system to discuss Marx with a Russian oligarch (Zlatko Burić) while the other guests dodge founts of feces and vomit. Harrelson feels endlessly entertaining precisely because the captain is morbidly out of place. His performance is giddy and irreverent, brief but memorable.

— Maya Thompson

Best Supporting Actress 

Winner: Stephanie Hsu, “Everything Everywhere All at Once”

Stephanie Hsu has come a long way since her regional theater escapades. The audacious actress has been sweeping awards for her performance as Joy Wang in Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert’s “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” and she’s picking up another Best Supporting Actress win from The Daily Californian. 

The praise is well deserved; Hsu’s performance is as raw as it is meticulous, as poignant as it is camp. Her complex role has as many facets as there are universes in the Daniels’ brilliant creation, and Hsu is always right on cue as the film races through tenderness and absurdity. Fluidly transforming from a second-generation daughter struggling for familial acceptance to an all-powerful supervillain bent on destroying the multiverse, Hsu executes this menacing acting challenge with ferocity and grace. She radiates pure talent and emanates emotional intelligence that cuts clarity out of chaos. 

“Everything Everywhere All at Once” flourishes thanks to Hsu’s prowess, and this golden stepping stone is just the beginning of a creative journey filled with recognition she has undoubtedly earned. Hsu’s vivacious performance not only slashes a much-needed tear in the boundaries of Asian representation in Hollywood, but should inspire artists to push the limits of ambitious storytelling. She’s sharp, she’s fiery, she’s met the bar and lifted it even higher — every audience everywhere, all at once, should be eager to see what Stephanie Hsu will do next.

— Joy Diamond

Photo from A24 film.

Runner-up: Angela Bassett, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”

Ramonda is known to most as a queen and a mother, but in “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” she takes on a new role as a mourner. Following the death of Chadwick Boseman and consequently his character, King T’Challa, Marvel scrambled to reshape the franchise in its sequel. The responsibilities of the kingdom of Wakanda now fall on the shoulders of Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett) and Princess Shuri (Letitia Wright).

While Wright’s youthful intelligence guides the film, Bassett’s stern grace commands every frame without question. Emotion wavers yet never breaks behind her fixed, shiny-eyed gaze, and her austerity pierces screens with stoic elegance. Amid navigating the turbulence of grief, women preserve the stateliness and splendor of Wakanda, and Bassett’s matriarchal poise helms the ship.

— Taila Lee

Best Ensemble Cast

Winner: “Bodies Bodies Bodies”

The cast of “Bodies Bodies Bodies” shines in this dark comedy, delivering their Gen-Z specific lines with ease. In a film studded with red herrings, each character in the central house seems equally suspicious — weaving tension through each relationship. Sophie (Amandla Stenberg) has immediate ease with her group of old friends, and her newly initiated girlfriend Bee (Maria Bakalova) has all the innocence and naivete of a small town girl — until she doesn’t. 

This group of toxic yet believable friends plays out like a ticking time bomb of secrets, elevated by standout performances from Rachel Sennott, Myha’la Herrold, Chase Sui Wonders, Pete Davidson and Lee Pace. Sennott stands out as she plays a particularly obnoxious Queen Bee type who is the first to stir up conflict — waving her privilege on her sleeve, blissfully unafraid to take up space — and the rest of the cast excellently plays to her exaggerations. While Wonders’ character gives into her stage presence, Davidson’s indifference stands in stark contrast to her high energy. Meanwhile, Herrold’s character evokes an intensity that places her in direct opposition with Sennott. 

For a film that relies on subtleties in the tension between characters, “Bodies Bodies Bodies” is able to weaponize the quirks of each character against the rest —  a feat that could only be accomplished by an A-plus ensemble. 

Megha Ganapathy

Photo from A24 film.

Runner-up: “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”

Four years after the widespread success of “Black Panther” and two years after the passing of Chadwick Boseman, the first film’s lead, the cast of “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” had big shoes to fill. Marvel Studios decided not to recast Boseman’s King T’Challa and instead allow supporting cast members from the first film, including Letitia Wright, Angela Bassett, Danai Gurira and Lupita Nyong’o, take on larger roles. 

Though the film pays proper homage to Boseman, its ultimate allure comes from the powerful performances of these actresses. The female-dominated castmates of “Wakanda Forever” emanate poise, elegance and charisma as they defend their nation of Wakanda from new external threats. In doing so, they show every other nation in the fictional world — not to mention audiences in the real world — that women can and should hold the power to steer the world towards a better future.

— Beatrice Aronson


Best Director

Winner: The Daniels, “Everything Everywhere All at Once”

2022 was an absurd year to say the least. As movie-goers returned to theaters after pandemic closures, the year deserved an equally absurd movie — and director duo Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, known collectively as the Daniels, sure did deliver. 

“Everything Everywhere All At Once” is as cognitively shattering as the title suggests. In a flurry of bright colors and existential bizarrity, the film tells the story of Evelyn Quan Wang, a middle-aged Chinese American in the middle of being audited by the IRS. As her family and work life start to crumble at her feet, she discovers that a powerful being is trying to destroy the multiverse and only she can stop it. Even as the plot complicates with every scene, the Daniels directorial touch is clear-headed, weaving revelatory meditations on familial love, self-fulfillment and the meaning of life with the wackiest visuals ever brought to the silver screen.

Few directors can bring an audience to tears by showing rocks with googly eyes sitting quietly in a desert, but the Daniels did. Few directors would be brave enough to feature a raccoon-controlled hibachi chef, Jamie Lee Curtis with hot dogs for fingers and an antagonist threatening to turn the universe into an everything bagel, but Daniels did. Leaping from the ridiculous to the metaphysical and back again, “Everything, Everywhere All At Once” refuses to be defined by any metric or genre. It is the careful direction disguised within the chaos that makes the film so sensational. 

— Afton Okwu

Photo from A24 film.

Runner-up: Jordan Peele, “Nope”

Jordan Peele’s third film “Nope” solidifies his aptitude for using horror as a vehicle to comment on greater social themes — in this case, man versus nature. Similar to “Get Out,” the film follows an expertly crafted psychological narrative that slowly builds into a stunningly shocking twist. Peele’s touch is felt pulsing through the entire film, from the uniqueness of the sweeping desert to the chokingly chilling sense of doom creeping across the horizon. 

Arguably the most terrifying moment in the film is a small detail in the background: Amidst a violent massacre, blood and discarded bodies scattered around a TV show set sits a discarded shoe, standing upright on its heel for no apparent reason. The bone-chilling inexplicability of the symbol is classically Peele, and so is the rest of the movie, which follows his tour de force of crafting horror in places one would never think to look.

Vivian Stacy

Best Screenplay

Winner: “Everything Everywhere All at Once”

Everything comes down to character, even in the multiverse. “Everything Everywhere All at Once” was an unlikely $100 million box office hit for the up-and-coming screenwriting duo Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, who are absolutely not afraid to go balls to the wall. As in their 2016 black comedy “Swiss Army Man,” an extended fart joke of a film that expertly toes the line between profane and profound, the pair’s preposterous ideas are always grounded in familiar dynamics and compelling characterization. 

The Daniels, as they are collectively known, manage to weave together a tapestry of magical realism, so seamless that audiences have no trouble verse-jumping between parallel timelines or code-switching between Mandarin, Cantonese and English. “Everything Everywhere All at Once” is like if Charlie Kaufman made a kung fu movie with a lead couple out of a rom-com and a whole lot of potty humor, but the extreme specificity in plot makes the film’s universally applicable meaning feel fresh instead of corny. Each of the increasingly bizarre, yet carefully placed Chekhov’s guns, from hot dog fingers to butt plug trophies to “Raccacoonie,” falls perfectly into place before exploding dramatically at the end. 

Together, Kwan and Schienert did what most screenwriters couldn’t even fathom, let alone attempt — they successfully wrote a film about everything. 

— Asha Pruitt

Photo from A24 film.

Runner-up: “Tár”

“If you want to dance the mask, you must service the composer. You’ve got to sublimate yourself. Your ego and, yes, your identity,” a frazzled Lydia Tár (Cate Blanchett) snarls at an unsuspecting Juilliard student early in Todd Field’s masterpiece “Tár,” which shrewdly and artfully charts the fictional composer’s downfall, soldering symphony to soliloquy in one of the strongest and most ambitious screenplays of the year. 

In Field’s script, Tár’s hubris is highly mappable, colorful and deeply funny. His fleshing out of her character is airtight, and demonstrates an attunement to the cultural barometer that few modern writers have mastered.

— Emma Murphree

Best Cinematography

Winner: Larkin Seiple, “Everything Everywhere All At Once

From glowing, beatific bagels to floppy hot dog fingers, “Everything Everywhere All at Once” was the most visually stimulating film released this year. True to its title, the film is explosive and colorfully chaotic, as cinematographer Larkin Seiple blends genres and styles with a fast-paced, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it breathlessness. With so much to take in, one could watch the movie ten times over and still notice new details.

Like a puzzle or an abstract painting, “Everything Everywhere All At Once” is made up of small tableaus collected together: a man exploding into colorful confetti, two planets colliding as mother and daughter embrace, a universe slipping through the space between two palms pressed together. Memorably, the emotional climax of the film occurs when two rocks sit still, overlooking the vast, open horizon of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, as dialogue text silently appears on screen. 

“Everything Everywhere All At Once” was shot in only 36 days, a fact made all the more impressive when faced with the vastness of the film’s subject matter. Seiple was forced to tackle the boundless expanse of the multiverse on a notoriously low budget, his creativity flourishing in its limitlessness. Shots blur together as characters “verse-jumpe,” falling backwards in a hyperlapse; in one of many expertly shot fight scenes, backgrounds swing dangerously between worlds with each punch. In the most striking scene, universes shift blindingly around the main character as light passes over her face. 

Lawless and colossal, in “Everything Everywhere All At Once,” Seiple manages the impossible feat of capturing the interdimensional on camera.

— Vivian Stacy 

Photo from A24 film.

Runner-up: Hoyte van Hoytema, “Nope” 

“Nope” is the third hair-raising creation from writer-director Jordan Peele, who ventures into science fiction territory for his latest film after previously staking his claim on the horror genre. The film’s mesmeric spell is cast in no small part by cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema, whose artistry with the camera breathes tense, chilling life into the strange yet beautiful world of “Nope.”

Precisely unraveling the mystery behind an unearthly, ethereal predator haunting an eerie California desert, van Hoytema’s touch makes for a picture that is abrasively chilling and altogether tantalizing. The cameraman’s tools are light and shadow, framing and suspense, and with these, he paints a menacing masterpiece, which glistens with unsettling colors and pulses with sinister energy. He captivates, enthralls, then abducts audiences into his otherworldly realm, a disturbing domain whose vastness spills beyond the borders of the screen. Van Hoytema’s virtuosic vision, horrid yet irresistible, makes “Nope” thoroughly magnetic.

— Joy Diamond

Contact Taila Lee at 


DECEMBER 13, 2022