6. Crazy Rich Asians
Crazy Rich Asians is fashion porn and wealth porn; you find yourself gawking at the massive estates, the expensive cars, the brand designer clothes, and the decadent wedding where the center aisle floods so the bride can walk on water. But the film is edited well and moves at a brisk pace. The cumulative effect is breezy and carefree rather than gross and exploitative.
These types of movies, which give us plebes a peek at how the other half lives, are best when they have a regular, middle class protagonist who we can identify with. In The Devil Wears Prada, it was Andy, played by Anne Hathaway. In Crazy Rich Asians, it’s Rachel, played by Constance Wu, who is dating the heir to a wealthy Singaporean family and is judged on her Asian-ness, her American-ness, and her lack of wealth and family pedigree.
The much-celebrated, all Asian cast — an extreme exception for an American production — was excellent. The two standouts were Gemma Chan, who played the role of Astrid, and action star Michelle Yeoh, who played the protective mother that Rachel must win over.
The inclusion of Asian men who are sexual, desirable, and fill a variety of narrative roles is an advancement that is both welcome and embarrassingly late. Hopefully, Crazy Rich Asians will be one of the last times that an Asian American film has to “break new ground.” Let’s go upwards and onwards, from here on out. — Kevin Wong