We’ve loved her for decades, but 2022 brought Michelle Yeoh to new heights with a standout role that garnered her accolades, and at last gave her the undivided attention of an entire industry. In between her past work on Star Trek: Discovery and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, and this year’s The Witcher: Blood Origin and Everything Everywhere All at Once, Yeoh’s science fiction/fantasy star is shining brighter than ever.
As we wrap up our Year in Review lists it felt unseemly to let all of these slideshows happen without one dedicated to all the incredible “Yeohments” of 2022, simply because this was the year we fell in love with Michelle Yeoh, all over again.
Some have said that Yeoh’s current nominations are legacy nods—a tacit agreement among the voting bodies to give Yeoh an award for her body of work across decades. But we defy anyone to tell us that Evelyn Wang in Everything Everywhere All at Once isn’t an incredible feat of charisma, acting, and stuntwork. Yeoh may deserve a legacy award, but this role stands on its own as a performance that is worthy of every accolade she’s gotten.
Time (correctly) named Yeoh its “Icon of the Year,” and in a chat with the publication she shared that she hopes this is only the beginning. “I do look at all my peers—Cate Blanchett, Olivia Colman, Helen Mirren—and go, ‘Oh god, I envy all the different opportunities you get to showcase your talent again and again,’” Yeoh said. Of playing Evelyn in Everything Everywhere All at Once, she said, “When you get an opportunity like this, you have to pour your heart and soul into it, because you don’t know when the next chance is. I think that is my biggest fear: Please don’t let this be the one and only.”
Sure, the new Witcher prequel might not be hitting the highs that made the first two seasons of Netflix’s fantasy adaptation a hit, but it’s arguably down to the fact that Yeoh’s turn as the taciturn warrior swordswoman Scian is the one unequivocal highlight of the otherwise humdrum series. Yeoh gets to be the wise master, the badass warrior, and the rock of Blood Origin’s motley crew, and we’re always delighted when someone gives her a sword.
Everything Everywhere All at Once presents so many fun alternate takes on Evelyn and the people in her immediate orbit. The glimpses of her life where she and Jamie Lee Curtis’ Deirdre Beaubeirdre are lovers would be interesting on their own, but the fact that they’re lovers in a world where everyone has floppy uncooked hot dogs for fingers is so deeply weird. In another movie, it would easily undermine everything (everywhere, all at once) that the movie is going for, but the Daniels’ directing and the performances from Yeoh and Curtis manage to sell it. Yes, it’s still strange, but it remains as tender and warmhearted as the other love stories in the film.
The New York Times Magazine (correctly) named Michelle Yeoh one of its 10 best actors of the year. Praising her performance as Evelyn Wang, film critic Wesley Morris said, “Yeoh might even exceed [Everything Everywhere All at Once]’s own excesses. She becomes a cosmos of her own.”
Netflix’s The School for Good and Evil was dripping with elaborate costumes and production design that helped bring its fantastical setting to life. But in a movie stuffed with eye candy, the most pleasing sight was Michelle Yeoh as the glamorous and intimidating Professor Anemone, who teaches her students how to use their beauty to gain power—and won’t hesitate to fail anyone whose smile isn’t up to snuff. (Later we learn that she thinks this curriculum is totally shallow… which only makes us love her even more.)
There’s so much Star Trek now that Paramount has turned the franchise into a streaming giant, but one series that has still yet to see the light of day is Section 31, a show meant to follow Yeoh’s character Georgiou (or rather, the mirror universe version of her she regularly played across seasons 1-3 of Discovery). Yeoh already got to bow out on a high in Discovery’s third season, but the fact that Trek’s current architects are still willing to find a way for her to come back, even with half a dozen shows under their belts at the minute, shows just how much of an impact the actress made, and we can’t wait to see what Star Trek has cooked up for her again some day.
Yeoh has been voice acting ever since the tie-in video games to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor. Her voice reel is slowly, but surely expanding; she appeared in Minions: Rise of Gru and the long in development Paws of Fury. In 2023, she’s set to be one of the Transformers in Rise of the Beasts, and she’s going to be a main character in the Ark: Survival Evolved animated series. It’s a little strange to hear that she’s gonna be in Transformers, of all things, but also kind of awesome?
We were already excited for the Disney+ adaptation of Gene Luen Yang’s American Born Chinese, but then executive producer Daniel Destin Cretton (Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings) revealed its stacked cast—including Yeoh as Guanyin, the aunt of the main character who offers guidance as he fumbles through high school… while keeping her secret magical identity as “the all-powerful Buddhist bodhisattva of Compassion” under wraps. Based on the glimpses of the series we’ve seen so far, that will include some kick-ass Yeoh-centric action scenes, which we can’t wait to see more of when the show premieres in 2023.
Putting Cate Blanchett and Michelle Yeoh on a soundstage and telling them to just have a nice chat was genius, and bless Variety for doing this.
Stories don’t get more heartwarming than this. Ke Huy Quan—who was previously known for his roles in Indiana Jones and The Goonies as a child actor—was inspired to get back into Hollywood by Yeoh’s performance in Crazy Rich Asians. Seeing yourself reflected in another is a powerful motivator, and Yeoh’s work is always inspiring. Here’s to more Yeohments in 2023, and beyond!
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