SAG Awards nominee profile: Michelle Yeoh (‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’) could win twice

Michelle Yeoh has built an impressive resume over her decades-spanning career, including celebrated projects like “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” “Memoirs of a Geisha,” and “Star Trek: Discovery.” Despite these credits, the actress didn’t earn a SAG nomination until 2019 as part of the ensemble of the romantic comedy “Crazy Rich Asians.” This year, Yeoh is not only back in the Film Ensemble category thanks to zeitgeist hit “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” she has scored her first individual SAG nomination for her leading role. The overall popularity of this movie could help Yeoh capture her first win from this guild.

Yeoh portrays Evelyn Wang in this genre-defying film, who owns a laundromat and lives in the cramped apartment above it. Her business is on the brink of financial ruin, her relationship with husband Waymond (Ke Huy Quan) is strained, and her daughter Joy (Stephanie Hsu) is distant due to Evelyn’s continued rebuke of Joy’s sexuality. But as Evelyn submits to a grim IRS audit, a crack in the multiverse opens before her. She soon learns how to “verse jump” between alternate realities: in one she is a glamorous movie star, in another she has hot dogs for fingers. But an alternate version of her daughter looms large as a nihilistic queen of these collective universes, and is hellbent on ending them all. Through the mastery of her new powers and knowledge, Evelyn must save the multiverse by reconnecting with her daughter and rediscovering a verve for life.

In this year’s Lead Actress race, Yeoh is nominated alongside first-time SAG nominees Ana de Armas (“Blonde”) and Danielle Deadwyler (“Till”), as well as three-time SAG champ Cate Blanchett (“Tar”) and seven-time winner Viola Davis (“The Woman King”). Blanchett, de Armas, and Yeoh all repeated their bids at the Oscars. Yeoh is the only nominee of this bunch who earned an additional nomination in Film Ensemble.

The strong performance of “Everything Everywhere All at Once” with SAG voters could hold the key to Yeoh’s ultimate victory. The film tied with “The Banshees of Inisherin” as the most nominated movie of the year, with five bids apiece. Supporting players Jamie Lee Curtis, Stephanie Hsu, and Ke Huy Quan also snagged nominations. This means both “Everything” and “Banshees” also tie with “Shakespeare in Love,” “Chicago,” and “Doubt” as the most nominated films in SAG history.

Those top scoring films have a couple aspects in common. They were all nominated for (or won) Film Ensemble, and they all had at least one individual female acting win. “Doubt” was victorious in Lead Actress for Meryl Streep while “Shakespeare in Love” claimed the ensemble prize and the lead trophy for Gwenyth Paltrow. “Chicago” bested them all by taking Ensemble, plus wins in both Lead and Supporting actress for Renee Zellweger and Catherine Zeta-Jones.

“Everything Everywhere All at Once” currently sits atop Gold Derby’s combined odds for the coveted Film Ensemble prize. That would check off one win for the popular flick, but it would still need a female acting win to mirror past 5-time nominees at SAG. That’s where Yeoh’s multi-faceted performance comes into play. She has the opportunity to showcase immense range as she embodies different variations of Evelyn. Yeoh makes you laugh one moment, before serving up something tender and delicate, and even has a wacky fight scene using sex toys as weapons. As the apt title implies, she really gets to play, well, “everything.” Gold Derby users have taken notice and launched her to the top of our current odds for Lead Actress, and SAG voters are likely to agree with that placement.

This article is a part of Gold Derby’s “SAG Awards nominee profile” series spotlighting the 2023 contenders in film and TV.

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