Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert Win Best Director Oscar for ‘Everything Everywhere All At Once’

The pair become the third directing duo to win the directing trophy at the Academy Awards.
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 15: (L-R) Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert with FIJI Water at the 28th Annual Critics' Choice Awards at Fairmont Century Plaza on January 15, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by John Sciulli/Getty Images for FIJI Water)
Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert
Getty Images for FIJI Water

The Academy clearly believes Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert are everything, everywhere. The directing team (popularly known as the Daniels) won the Best Director Oscar at the 95th Academy Award ceremony for their work on Best Picture nominee “Everything Everywhere All At Once.” The duo took to the stage at Los Angeles’ Dolby Theatre on Sunday night to celebrate the win.

Kwan and Scheinert beat out plenty of other acclaimed filmmakers to claim the trophy, including Todd Field for his comeback film “Tár,” Irish director Martin McDonagh for “The Banshees of Inisherin,” two-time Palme d’Or honoree Ruben Östlund for “Triangle of Sadness,” and two-time Best Director winner Steven Spielberg for his semi-autobiographical feature “The Fabelmans.”

With the win, Kwan and Scheinert have become the third directing duo in Oscar history to win the Best Director prize, following in the footsteps of Jerome Robbins and Robert Wise for “West Side Story” in 1962 and Joel and Ethan Coen for “No Country for Old Men” in 2008. Kwan also becomes the fourth Asian filmmaker to win the Best Director Oscar, after Ang Lee won two times for “Brokeback Mountain” and “Life of Pi” in 2006 and 2013, Bong Joon-ho won for “Parasite” in 2020, and Chloé Zhao won for “Nomadland” in 2021.

The Daniels’ Oscar win is the latest in several accolades the two have gathered during awards season for “Everything Everywhere All At Once.” At the Hollywood Critics Association, Independent Spirit, and Critics Choice Movie Awards, they won directing prizes as well as best feature and screenplay awards. The Directors Guild of America awarded the pair with the Outstanding Direction award, and they also received trophies at the Writers Guild of America and Producers Guild of America Awards. At the British Academy Film Awards and the Golden Globes, the two received noms for direction and their screenplay, as well as nods as producers of the film under Best Picture.

As such, “Everything Everywhere All At Once,” a sci-fi action comedy drama starring Michelle Yeoh, came into this year’s ceremony as the frontrunner in multiple categories. It also had the most nominations of any film at 11, with the categories it was up for beside Best Picture including: Best Picture, Best Actress (for Yeoh), Best Supporting Actor (for Ke Huy Quan), two Best Supporting Actress nods (for Jamie Lee Curtis and Stephanie Hsu), Best Original Screenplay (also for the Daniels), Best Original Score, Best Original Song, Best Costume Design, and Best Film Editing.

Kwan and Scheinert’s rise in profile from their sophomore feature “Everything Everywhere” came six years after the two, previously most known for their work on music videos like Lil Jon’s “Turn Down for What,” made their feature debut with the 2016 Sundance Film Festival premiere “Swiss Army Man.” The movie, which starred Daniel Radcliffe and Paul Dano, attracted buzz upon its release for its bizarre concept, about a man stranded on a deserted island who befriends a farting corpse and received relatively positive reviews.

“Everything Everywhere,” which focuses on a woman named Evelyn (Yeoh) who is recruited to go on a multi-universal journey to save reality, premiered at the South by Southwest Film Festival on March 11 to critical acclaim for the performances of the cast and the Daniels’ direction and ambition. In his review, IndieWire’s Chief Film Critic David Ehrlich called the movie an “an orgiastic work of slaphappy genius that doesn’t operate like a narrative film so much as a particle accelerator — or maybe a cosmic washing machine — that two psychotic 12-year-olds designed in the hopes of reconciling the anxiety of what our lives could be with the beauty of what they are.”

At the South By Southwest Festival, Kwan and Scheinert spoke to IndieWire about their inspirations behind “Everything Everywhere,” revealing that the original idea was to make it as their own version and response to the Wachoskis classic 1999 action film “The Matrix.”

“This movie is 100 percent a response to ‘The Matrix,’ obviously,” Kwan told IndieWire. “We wanted to make our version of it. It was wild to be like oh, ‘We took so long that the Wachowskis to beat us to it.’”

In IndieWire’s list of the 25 best films of 2022, “Everything Everywhere All At Once” ranked at No. 3. Ehrlich wrote that the film was “overstuffed as its title implies, even more juvenile than its pedigree suggests, and so creatively unbound from the minute it starts that it makes Daniels’ previous efforts seem like they were made with Bressonian restraint by comparison.”

“Everything Everywhere All At Once” is currently available to stream on Paramount+ and Showtime.

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