5 reasons why Michelle Yeoh (‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’) will win Best Actress Oscar

Will Cate Blanchett’s role as an accomplished orchestra conductor in “Tár” hit the right notes with the Academy, bringing her Oscar #3? Or will Michelle Yeoh’s portrayal of a despondent laundromat owner in “Everything Everywhere All at Once” clean up on March 12? The races for the Best Actress Oscar have been excruciatingly close many of the past few years, and the favorites haven’t always prevailed. And it looks like we’re headed for another cliffhanger.

As of this writing, Gold Derby Experts, Editors, Top 24 Users and All-Star Users are almost evenly split between the two, making it a wash. So allow me to try and scrub away the suspense. Here are five reasons why Michelle Yeoh (“Everything Everywhere All at Once”) will win the Best Actress Oscar.

SEE 2023 Oscar nominations: Full list of nominees in all 23 categories

1. She’ll bag the SAG Award. And you can take that to the bank.
There’s no question that Blanchett is a bona fide SAG staple. “Tár” marks her 10th individual invitation for her work in a feature film. She’s collected two individual SAG trophies, for Best Supporting Female Actor in 2004’s “The Aviator” and for Best Female Actor in 2013’s “Blue Jasmine.” (Blanchett would go on to secure Oscars for both of those performances.) However, “Tár” isn’t going to do the same trick. She’s not physically transformed or playing a real person. Her onscreen persona is fiercely unsympathetic. And the artsy (and somewhat divisive) “Tár” has no other SAG citations. Yeoh, on the other hand, has the SAG Awards odds stacked in her favor. She has a flashy part that allows her to play numerous versions of an already complex character. She’s a popular actress celebrating her first solo guild nom. And most importantly, she’s the star of the runaway favorite for SAG’s Best Ensemble award. Even if Blanchett takes the BAFTA, Yeoh will steal the SAG. As the last major showdown before the Oscars, that will turn the tide directly towards Yeoh.

2. “Everything Everywhere All at Once” is going to crush it at the Oscars.
With a leading 11 nominations, the film clearly over-performed with the Academy. Sure, there were the expected bids for Best Director and Original Screenplay for the Daniels, Actress for Yeoh, Supporting Actress for Jamie Lee Curtis and Supporting Actor for Ke Huy Quan. But Curtis was joined in her category by cast mate Stephanie Hsu (whose spot was hardly seen as a sure thing). The film also exceeded expectations in the below-the-line categories, hitting Costume Design, Film Editing, Score and Song. Of course, “Tár” similarly surpassed presumptions with six nominations, notably Cinematography and Film Editing. That still puts it far behind “Everything.” And that broad support for “Everything” could mean everything if it trickles down to Yeoh.

3. She has an exceptionally high “cool” factor.
I know, this probably sounds a bit silly. It’s an awards phenomenon that’s almost impossible to explain. I recall the first time that I heard it, from none other than the godfather of awards punditry — Gold Derby President and Founder Tom O’Neil himself. It was in December of 1999, and we were discussing whether a largely unknown (at the time) Hilary Swank in the gritty little indie “Boys Don’t Cry” could actually go all the way at the Oscars. I’ll never forget what Tom told me: “Yes, she definitely can. The film is considered ‘cool’ to like. Don’t underestimate how important that is.” Indeed, Swank would shed no tears on the big night – as she handily defeated her bigger-named rivals. In subsequent years, O’Neil made several brilliant early calls — like Charlize Theron in “Monster,” “Crash” and “No Country for Old Men” for Best Picture, Marion Cotillard for Best Actress in “La Vie en Rose,” Sean Penn for Best Actor in “Milk” and so many others. And he would always tell me, “Never forget how crucial it is to be considered ‘cool.’” Getting back to this year, the red hot Yeoh is the textbook definition of what it means to be cool. Talented. Intelligent. Beautiful. Graceful. Charismatic. And hilarious. Look at how she charmed the room upon accepting the Golden Globe Award for Best Comedy Actress. She’s simply irresistible. And that undeniable “cool” quotient will have Academy members melting.

4. It’s a chance to make history.
During my conversations with hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of Academy members over the past quarter of a century, no one has ever brought up race, ethnicity, nationality or religion when discussing an individual’s Oscar prospects. They have always seemed genuinely eager to honor the achievement that they feel is most deserving. That being said, I think that it’s fair to say that most of them are socially progressive. And that’s an admirable thing. They wish to be inclusive and embrace diversity across all levels – just not at the expense of quality. So if there’s a chance to reward an outstanding performance that also breaks down a wall, it’s an added bonus. We can’t ignore the fact that Yeoh would make history by becoming the first Asian woman to accept the Best Actress Oscar. The Academy would show the world that the art of cinema is truly a global phenomenon, one that knows that no boundaries and places no limits on anyone from anywhere. Again, every vote that Yeoh receives will be based strictly on the merits of her dynamite dramatics. The history that it makes is just the cherry on top – something that makes Yeoh’s savory success especially sweet.

5. “Tár” won’t be the film to bring Cate Blanchett her third Academy Award.
Most will agree that Best Actress is a two-woman race. And the only person standing in Yeoh’s way is two-time Oscar champ Blanchett. Cate has already crushed it with the critics. She’s extraordinarily brilliant as always, and a victory would definitely be worthy. But as I explained earlier, “Tár” does have its drawbacks and even a few detractors. Furthermore, Blanchett would have to do what no one has accomplished since Walter Brennan for 1940’s “The Westerner.” That is – attain three acting Oscars in a span of less than 20 years. Ingrid Bergman’s mysterious third reward for 1974’s “Murder on the Orient Express” arrived three decades after she shone in “Gaslight.” Katharine Hepburn’s third title for 1968’s “The Lion in Winter” roared in 35 years after her first glory for “Morning Glory.” The Academy decided that Jack Nicholson was good for his third prize for 1997’s “As Good as It Gets” 22 years after he flew away with Best Actor for “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” Meryl Streep struck gold with 2011’s “The Iron Lady” 32 years after she was ruled the winner for 1979’s “Kramer vs. Kramer.” Daniel Day-Lewis was elected to a third term as Best Actor for 2012’s “Lincoln” 23 years after his stomped away with the Oscar for “My Left Foot.” And Frances McDormand landed her third statuette for 2020’s “Nomadland” 24 years after she visited the Academy Awards for “Fargo.” All of this suggests that it’s highly improbable that Blanchett will pull an Oscar hat trick in just 18 years. So expect Cate to wait as the Academy says “Oh yeah” to Yeoh, everything (everywhere all at once) pointing to her as 2022’s Best Leading Actress.

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