Michelle Yeoh: All her best films to watch after the Oscars
A24 film Everything Everywhere All At Once has gone from indie favourite to major award winner, picking up seven Oscar trophies last night.
It has also catapulted Michelle Yeoh into the international limelight, as the actor won the coveted Best Actress award, making her the first ever Asian Best Actress winner.
In her speech Yeoh said: “For all the little boys and girls who look like me watching tonight, this is a beacon of hope and possibilities.
“And ladies, don’t let anybody tell you that you are ever past your prime.”
For Yeoh, who was previously best known for starring in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Crazy Rich Asians, the recognition has been extremely welcome. The Malaysian actor has been working for four decades, and even though she starred in some brilliant films, she had not become a household name.
In January she won the Best Actress Award at The Golden Globes, and during her acceptance speech she spoke about her struggles in the industry.
“It’s been an amazing journey, an incredible fight, to be here today. But I think it’s all been worth it. I remember when I first came to Hollywood – it was a dream come true until I got here, because... look at this face. I came here and was told you’re a minority, and I was like that’s not possible,” she said. “Then along came the best gift, Everything Everywhere All At Once...”
Academy Awards | Oscars 2023 | Everything Everywhere All At Once
In Everything Everywhere All At Once, Yeoh plays Evelyn, an overworked laundromat owner, who is busy filing her tax returns. Her husband is trying to divorce her, her demanding father is visiting, and her daughter, Joy, is hoping her mum will accept her non-Chinese girlfriend – it seems like there’s a lot going on.
But things really kick off when her husband gets possessed by an alternative version of himself. He relays the news that the universe is under threat from an alternative version of their daughter, and so Evelyn must take on the challenge and destroy all of these spin-off versions of Joy. Mind boggling.
So whether you have long been a fan of Yeoh and are now thrilled about her success, or you are just discovering her now, here are our picks of her best films.
Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)
In 1997, Pierce Brosnan was still playing the MI6 agent, Bond Girls were still heavy-chested and short-lived, and Dench was still M. Tomorrow Never Dies is about a vengeful media mogul (Jonathan Pryce) who decides to whip up hatred between China and the Western world after China won’t let him broadcast in the country. Luckily, Bond’s called in to try and keep world war at bay. Yeoh is Wai Lin, the highly-skilled Chinese agent who works alongside Bond to straighten things out.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)
One of the most beautiful films ever made, Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was nominated for ten Oscars in 2000, winning four. Set in 19th century China, Yeoh is warrior Yu Shu Lien, whose sword is stolen by a master thief. The story is partly about her attempts to retrieve it, but it quickly unravels as nothing – and no one – is what they first seem. Ziyi Zhang plays Jen Yu, the daughter of a powerful governor.
Memoirs of a Geisha (2005)
This beautiful Oscar-winning film based on Arthur Golden’s 1997 novel of the same name reunited Yeoh and Ziyi Zhang on screen. Zhang stars as Chiyo Sakamoto, a woman who is sold to a geisha house as a child, and Yeoh plays Mameha, one of the district’s most well known geishas and Chiyo’s mentor. Over the years Chiyo herself becomes a geisha of great importance. The high stakes story is about Chiyo’s rise to power as she navigates the complicated social and political scenes of Twenties Japan.
Cillian Murphy, Chris Evans, Rose Byrne and Mark Strong star alongside Yeoh in this Danny Boyle-directed sci-fi thriller set in 2057. The sun is dying much, much, earlier than expected, so a group of astronauts are sent on a perilous mission to try and reignite it. The idea is a very human one: Planet Earth decides to drop a giant bomb on the sun to jump start it. But, as always with space, things are wildly precarious, and almost immediately things start to go wrong. Although the film didn’t do brilliantly at the box office, and wasn’t heralded by critics either, it certainly gets the heart pumping.
The Lady (2011)
In 2018, Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi became a global pariah: Amnesty International called for her to be stripped of her accolades as over 700,000 Rohingya muslims fled persecution in Myanmar and her government stood by and did little about the country’s ethnic cleansing. There was, however, a long window before this when the world was more than hopeful about Suu Kyi. In The Lady, Yeoh stars as the complicated Burmese politician. Beginning in 1947, at the assassination of Suu Kyi’s politician father, Aung San, the film then follows Suu Kyi’s life as she is educated in England, falls in love, but is called back to Burma, a country devastated by militarism.
Crazy Rich Asians (2018)
In 2018, Crazy Rich Asians was one of the biggest films of the year, becoming the most lucrative American rom com of the last ten years. Based on Kevin Kwan’s 2013 novel of the same name, the film starred Henry Golding as Nick, an extremely rich Singaporean who has hidden his family’s immense wealth from his girlfriend, Rachel (Constance Wu), a professor of economics. When she is invited to accompany him to a wedding in Singapore, she quickly realises Nick is not who she first thought. Yeoh plays Nick’s mother, Eleanor, who doesn’t approve of Nick’s decision to date Rachel.