“Everything Everywhere All At Once” Makes Lesbian History at the Oscars

Tonight’s Best Picture win for Everything Everywhere All At Once is the first time a movie with a queer woman main character nabbed the Academy Awards’ number one most important top primo prize. There have been implied or subtextually or possibly queer female characters in Best Picture winners of years prior: Mrs. Danvers in the 1940 winner Rebecca, Matron Mama Morten in 2002’s Chicago, Clarice Starling in the 1991 film Silence of the Lambs. But Everything Everywhere All At Once is the first winner in which a queer female character was explicitly named as such — and not just that, but her queerness is integral to the film’s plot. Stephanie Hsu’s Joy Yang is the gay daughter of lead character Evelyn Quan Wang (Michelle Yeoh) and Waymond Wang (Ke Huy Quan) in the film that also won awards for Original Screenplay, Editing and Directing.

US film producer Jonathan Wang (C) accepts the Oscar for Best Picture for "Everything Everywhere All at Once" onstage during the 95th Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California on March 12, 2023. (Photo by Patrick T. Fallon / AFP) (Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)

US film producer Jonathan Wang (C) accepts the Oscar for Best Picture for “Everything Everywhere All at Once” onstage during the 95th Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California on March 12, 2023. (Photo by Patrick T. Fallon / AFP) (Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)

It’s the second LGBTQ+ film to win Best Picture — the first was Moonlight in 2016.

Previously, films with explicitly queer female characters have earned nominations: Vice and The Favourite (2018), Black Swan and The Kids Are All Right (2010), Milk (2008), The Hours (2002) and arguably The Color Purple (1985). Tárwhich was centered on a lesbian lead character, was also nominated this year —- but Everything Everywhere All At Once is the first to win.

Michelle Yeoh became the first Asian-American actor to win Best Actress, after being only the second-ever nominated (although Merle Oberon, the first nominated for an Academy Award, in 1935, was passing as white at the time). Yeoh was also the first Malaysian person ever nominated for an Academy Award in any category and the second woman of color to win an award for Lead Actor. Furthermore, Ke Huy Quan made all of us cry when he won Best Supporting Actor.

HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 12: Michelle Yeoh accepts the Best Actress award for "Everything Everywhere All at Once" onstage during the 95th Annual Academy Awards at Dolby Theatre on March 12, 2023 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

(Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Sarah Polley’s Women Talking, which dared to cast a trans character in a trans role, secured the W for Best Adapted Screenplay and also wore a suit, which was a really nice touch!

HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 12: Sarah Polley accepts the Best Adapted Screenplay award for "Women Talking" onstage during the 95th Annual Academy Awards at Dolby Theatre on March 12, 2023 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 12: Sarah Polley accepts the Best Adapted Screenplay award for “Women Talking” onstage during the 95th Annual Academy Awards at Dolby Theatre on March 12, 2023 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Another notable first: Ruth E. Carter became the first Black woman to win two Oscars when she won for Costume Design for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Her prior win was for the original Black Panther film.

There were also some pretty disappointing choices made by the Academy in the year of our lord 2023: Angela Bassett was passed over for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, as was Stephanie Hsu. Also; there was a makeup team victory for those assholes who made The Whale that was upsetting on several levels!


Before you go! Autostraddle runs on the reader support of our A+ Members. If this article meant something to you today — if it informed you or made you smile or feel seen, will you consider joining A+ and supporting the people who make this indie queer media site possible?

Join A+!
Related:

Riese

Riese is the 41-year-old Co-Founder of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, video-maker, LGBTQ+ Marketing consultant and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and now lives in California. Her work has appeared in nine books including "The Bigger the Better The Tighter The Sweater: 21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image & Other Hazards Of Being Female," magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 3078 articles for us.

14 Comments

  1. Also the Academy should be EMBARRASSED that only two women of color have ever won Best Actress. EMBARRASSED. And frankly the history of Best Supporting is only slightly better. I imagine that is so disheartening and discouraging for many actresses of color to know they are fighting an uphill battle. You have to truly be exceptional to get even nominated in the first place and even then…

  2. JLC winning over Stephanie or Angela is fucking awful. She shouldn’t have been nominated in the first place and this win feels insane and nonsensical at best, and also kinda racist. Stephanie’s role was the absolute HEART of the movie! I’m so furious.

  3. JLC winning over Angela THEE Basset and Stephanie shows that white mediocrity will always thrive and be rewarded. JLC is a great actress but she did not deserve to win for this film. And the all the people calling Angela bitter whew yall got me all the way bent. Special shout out to Michael B and Jonathan Majors for showing Angela the love and respect she deserves

  4. I’m still pissed about Stephanie Hsu not getting best supporting actress (I mean no offense to Curtis but did she even get enough screen time to constitute a best supporting actress role? Stephanie literally held up part of the whole movie.
    None the less, still really overjoyed for Everything Everywhere all at Once!!

    • Totally agree that Stephanie should have won, but there are quite a few best supporting actress winners that had barely any screen time. I think the shortest was under 6 minutes.

    • JLC’s win really illustrates how entitlement and ‘meritocracy’ works at the Oscars. It is assumed that brilliant work by POC just coincidentally doesn’t merit nominations or awards, but Curtis is entitled to an award despite not giving the best performance (in her category and in her own film) because ‘she is Hollywood royalty’ and ‘her legacy deserves recognition’ and ‘younger actors will have another chance’ etc…

  5. Stephanie should have won best supporting actress by a mile. I mean she lapped everyone else. That being said, I don’t think Angela Bassett should have won either. I love her and think she is great. I also think she is being cast in roles that require her to just be the Angela Bassett archetype. I think it’s actually criminal that she is being limited. Kinda how everyone just wants Ryan Reynolds to do the Ryan Reynolds archetype. Really, Angela is in the same situation as Michelle Yeoh and needs a movie that lets her really show what she is capable of. Hollywood has failed her.

    • Ryan Reynolds should not be a mediocre as he is considering he’s a white man in that industry with boundless opportunities and the clout to not only choose his projects more carefully but to get shit made off his name alone. Women of color have to take what is offered to them which is why Angela, Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer,Kerry Washington etc mostly do television these days. And what has Ariana Debose done in that last year since winning besides become a meme? Stephanie’s next projects are two animated films and two guest appearances in tv shows. The Fall Guy is still a good year off and I’m not sure how big her role is in that considering she’s like the 5 billed behind some pretty big names . She SHOULD BE getting so many more offers than what she is getting. I want so much better for all of these women.

Contribute to the conversation...

Yay! You've decided to leave a comment. That's fantastic. Please keep in mind that comments are moderated by the guidelines laid out in our comment policy. Let's have a personal and meaningful conversation and thanks for stopping by!