Oscar nominee profile: The Daniels (‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’) would be 3rd duo to win for directing

Thirteen years into their filmmaking partnership and seven years after making their feature debut with the Sundance Film Festival Award-winning “Swiss Army Man,” Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert are now Oscar nominees thanks to their hit sophomore film, “Everything Everywhere All at Once.” The sci-fi comedy leads the pack this year in terms of Oscar bids, with a total of 11 including three for the Daniels’ writing, directing and producing work. If the duo are honored in Best Director, it would make for the third such instance in the category’s history, following the victories of Jerome Robbins and Robert Wise (“West Side Story,” 1961) and Ethan Coen and Joel Coen (“No Country for Old Men,” 2007).

The Daniels’ challengers in this directing contest are Todd Field (“TAR”), Martin McDonagh (“The Banshees of Inisherin”), Ruben Ostlund (“Triangle of Sadness”) and Steven Spielberg (“The Fabelmans”). Ostlund is the only other general first-time Oscar nominee in the group, while Spielberg is the only returning directing contender, with two wins for “Schindler’s List” (1993) and “Saving Private Ryan” (1998) and six more past bids under his belt. Field and McDonagh have a collective total of seven previous nominations, most of which were for writing.

“Everything Everywhere All at Once” stars Michelle Yeoh as Evelyn Wang, an acerbic laundromat owner whose mounting tax debt proves to be the least of her problems after she is swept into a perilous multiversal adventure. With the help of her alienated husband, Waymond (Ke Huy Quan), she learns that it is up to her to save hers and every other universe from destruction at the hands of her dejected adult daughter, Joy (Stephanie Hsu).

The Daniels share their film’s Best Picture nomination with fellow Oscars newcomer Jonathan Wang, who also co-produced “Swiss Army Man.” Aside from this and the duo’s Best Original Screenplay bid, “Everything Everywhere All at Once” earned craft notices for its costume design, film editing, score and the song “This Is a Life,” as well as acting mentions for lead Yeoh and supporting players Hsu, Quan and Jamie Lee Curtis. Curtis and Hsu are the 36th pair of cast mates to face off in the featured female category, and theirs could be the 13th such case to produce a win for either woman involved.

Since they are both 35 years old (with only eight months separating them), the Daniels would be younger than either preceding team of directing champions by a margin of eight years. Scheinert would be the eighth youngest recipient of this award, while Kwan would rank sixth, almost exactly three years ahead of low-end age record holder Damien Chazelle (32; “La La Land,” 2016). Kwan would also be the first Asian American directing winner ever and the fourth person of Asian descent to take the prize after Ang Lee (“Brokeback Mountain,” 2005; “Life of Pi,” 2012), Bong Joon Ho (“Parasite,” 2019) and Chloe Zhao (“Nomadland,” 2020).

This article is a part of Gold Derby’s “Oscar nominee profile” series spotlighting the 2022 Best Picture nominees.

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