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'Everything Everywhere All At Once' wins Oscar's best picture award

LEILA FADEL, BYLINE: One movie swept last night's Academy Awards.

(SOUNDBITE OF MONTAGE)

HARRISON FORD: And the Oscar goes to "Everything Everywhere All At Once."

ANDREW GARFIELD: "Everything Everywhere All At Once."

ZOE SALDANA: "Everything Everywhere All At Once."

SACHA PFEIFFER, HOST:

A historic night for a distinctive, even radical, movie set in the multiverse with an almost entirely Asian cast.

FADEL: NPR's Mandalit del Barco was in Hollywood for the awards and joins us now. Good morning, Mandalit.

MANDALIT DEL BARCO, BYLINE: Good morning, Leila.

FADEL: OK, so "Everything Everywhere All At Once" made history.

DEL BARCO: It sure did.

FADEL: Yeah.

DEL BARCO: It won best picture and also best director and original screenplay for the Daniels - Scheinert and Kwan. You know, backstage, they told us their film was about joy and absurdity and chasing your bliss. "Everything Everywhere" won seven awards in all, including two for fan favorites Michelle Yeoh, the first Asian to win the best actress award, and best supporting actor Ke Huy Quan.

(SOUNDBITE OF MONTAGE)

MICHELLE YEOH: Dreams do come true. And, ladies, don't let anybody tell you you are ever past your prime. Never give up.

KE HUY QUAN: My journey started on a boat. I spent a year in a refugee camp. And somehow, I ended up here on Hollywood's biggest stage.

DEL BARCO: You know, this film has been championed as a feel-good movie, and so many people were rooting for Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan - both in the business for so many years. It was really charming to see presenter Harrison Ford hugging Quan on stage, having started out as a child actor - Short Round in "Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom." And, Leila, after last year's Oscars drama with Will Smith slapping Chris Rock on stage, well, this was a very positive night. No slaps.

FADEL: Yeah. Very inspiring words we just heard. Tell us more about some of the other big winners last night.

DEL BARCO: Well, there were definitely some upsets - you know, Jamie Lee Curtis beating out the "Black Panther's" Angela Bassett for best supporting actress, Brendan Fraser winning best actor for "The Whale" and not Austin Butler for playing Elvis. Netflix's German anti-war epic "All Quiet On The Western Front" picked up four awards - best international feature, cinematography, original score, production design. Ninety-two years ago, the original film version won the top Oscar. But perhaps the most timely honor went to best documentary winner "Navalny" about Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who is a political prisoner. Here was his wife Yulia on stage.

(SOUNDBITE OF TELECAST OF 95TH ACADEMY AWARDS)

YULIA NAVALNAYA: Alexei, I am dreaming the day when you will be free and our country will be free. Stay strong, my love.

DEL BARCO: Backstage, we were told that Navalny's in solitary confinement and unwell. It was one of the more sobering moments in an otherwise upbeat, celebratory night.

FADEL: Now, I want to go back to the best picture winner, "Everything Everywhere All At Once," one more time. What do this year's Oscars say about the larger conversation about inclusion and diversity in Hollywood?

DEL BARCO: Yeah, there are still real struggles for racial, ethnic and gender representation in the film industry, but this year there was a lot of diversity among the winners. Now Hollywood has crowned its best picture a film about an older woman, a queer film, an Asian American story; Ruth Carter became the first Black woman to win two Oscars; and it was also a big year for South Asian artists. From India, the song from the movie "RRR" beat out songs by Rihanna and Lady Gaga, and the composer of "Naatu Naatu" accepted the award saying he had grown up in India listening to the Carpenters.

(SOUNDBITE OF TELECAST OF 95TH ACADEMY AWARDS)

M M KEERAVANI: (Singing) "RRR" has to win. Pride of every Indian...

(CHEERING)

KEERAVANI: (Singing) ...And must put me on the top of the world.

FADEL: That's NPR's Mandalit del Barco in Culver City, Calif. Thanks, Mandalit.

DEL BARCO: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Leila Fadel is a national correspondent for NPR based in Los Angeles, covering issues of culture, diversity, and race.
As an arts correspondent based at NPR West, Mandalit del Barco reports and produces stories about film, television, music, visual arts, dance and other topics. Over the years, she has also covered everything from street gangs to Hollywood, police and prisons, marijuana, immigration, race relations, natural disasters, Latino arts and urban street culture (including hip hop dance, music, and art). Every year, she covers the Oscars and the Grammy awards for NPR, as well as the Sundance Film Festival and other events. Her news reports, feature stories and photos, filed from Los Angeles and abroad, can be heard on All Things Considered, Morning Edition, Weekend Edition, Alt.latino, and npr.org.