HomeBad Ass AsiansAsians won't repeat their EEAAO Oscar moment, but that's OK

Asians won’t repeat their EEAAO Oscar moment, but that’s OK

By Randall Yip, Executive Editor

Everything Everywhere All at Once made Oscar history last year, winning a record six major or above-the-line Academy Awards. It also marked a pivotal moment in Asian American representation in Hollywood – something that may never be repeated.

While some might even jokingly refer to that as an “Asian F,” a reference to the high expectations put on Asians by themselves and those outside the community, others see that as a good thing.

 It’s “the idea that we’ll have so many stories out there that will represent such a breadth of who we actually are, that we can actually make shows that are not that great,” said author and historian Jeff Chang at a recent appearance at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco.

Last year Joy Ride, Shortcomings and Past Lives highlighted the new theatrical releases of films featuring Asian American casts.

The most critically acclaimed of the three, Celine Song’s Past Lives, is a story of two childhood sweethearts who reunited after 24 years.

It received nominations for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay.

This year’s Academy Awards features Asian American and Asian nominees in 10 of 23 categories.

Jeff Yang who wrote the 2023 book The Golden Screen, the Movies that made Asian America, called Past Lives a movie that doesn’t try to “boil the ocean.”

“We should all try to tell stories about small chapters in our lives about coincidental connections and chance meetings,” he said at the same Commonwealth Club appearance as Chang. “Until you actually read the script, until you get to see performances, you’ll realize what a great film it is. I want us to have that. I want us to just tell small stories with incredibly beautiful effect.”

Michelle Meow, Jeff Yang and Jeff Chang speak at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco
(L-R) Michelle Meow, Jeff Yang and Jeff Chang. Photo by Randall Yip

It was just four years ago when we hit another milestone in Oscar and Asian filmmaking history. The film Parasite directed by Bong Joon-Ho became the first non-English film to win Best Picture.

It’s just one of the films Yang writes about in The Golden Screen. Yang goes all the way back to 1915 to discuss director Cecil B DeMille’s The Cheat starring Sessue Hayakawa.

The book reminds Yang of his childhood on Staten Island in New York. In his conversation with media personality Michelle Meow, he said movies that made an impression on him at an early age were those his uncle took him to see at the Music Palace, New York’s last Chinese-language movie theater.

“Everything else I saw around me on media on television and elsewhere, didn’t have me, you know. I was kind of an empty void at the center of the screen. But this opportunity to see in living color with subtitles, films that represented something that looked like me, that spoke to me, that was something that forged my first sense of realization that, you know, this difference in me was nothing different.”

Today he marvels at the thought that K-dramas with subtitles rank among the top 25 most-watched titles on Netflix,

“It’s not a change that I could have imagined when I was, you know, 11 years old and watching the stuff on screen myself,” he said.

10% of the proceeds of books purchased through the link above are donated to AsAmNews. The book includes a foreword by Actress Michelle Yeoh and an afterward by director Jon Chu.

The Oscars can be seen live on Sunday night, March 10, at 7 p.m. Eastern/4 p.m. Pacific on ABC.

AsAmNews is published by the non-profit, Asian American Media Inc. Follow us on FacebookX, InstagramTikTok and YouTube. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to support our efforts to produce diverse content about the AAPI communities. We are supported in part by funding provided by the State of California, administered by the California State Library in partnership with the California Department of Social Services and the California Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs as part of the Stop the Hate program. To report a hate incident or hate crime and get support, go to CA vs Hate.

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