Oscar Experts Typing: Does Michelle Yeoh have ‘Everything’ in her corner to win Best Actress?

Welcome to Oscar Experts Typing, a weekly column in which Gold Derby editors and Experts Joyce Eng and Christopher Rosen discuss the Oscar race — via Slack, of course. This week, we once again tackle Best Actress after the industry awards split between the two frontrunners.

Christopher Rosen: Hello, Joyce! It’s the final Friday before the final Friday before the 2023 Oscars, and — significant for our purposes — final voting is happening right now. And right now. And even right now. Voters are voting! This is it! As we’ve seen throughout Phase 2, this season is both delightfully wide open and completely over. We both think there’s little doubt “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” directing duo the Daniels and “Everything Everywhere” comeback hero Ke Huy Quan are certain to win Oscars on March 12. (Quan is perhaps the third biggest “lock” behind “Avatar: The Way of Water” for visual effects and “Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio” for animated feature — but as we know from Frances Fisher, nothing is really locked until it’s actually locked.) Yet three of the four acting races remain in great flux, with Best Actress perhaps the most flux of all. For months, we’ve both been on the Cate Blanchett train (choo choo), but in the words of Meryl Streep, I now have such doubts. Michelle Yeoh has anecdotally come on very strong here in the final stages of the awards campaign. Her win at the Screen Actors Guild Awards on Sunday felt significant, even though I don’t think SAG carries that much weight in comparison to BAFTA, where Blanchett triumphed, especially as the academy has gone more international with its tastes and members. Yeoh is also everywhere. Yes, Blanchett appeared on the cover of Time magazine — a publication I’m sure The Weeknd thinks is irrelevant now too — but Yeoh is on the cover of People, appeared as a guest with Stephen Colbert, and even sat for an interview with fellow A24 Oscar hopeful Brendan Fraser. It just feels like the tide has turned to Yeoh, even though it probably hasn’t and tides don’t really turn because of publicity? That said, I’ve made the switch: I’m picking Yeoh over Blanchett because, in the end, I think the love for “Everything Everywhere” is enough to push its star over the top. This is probably wrong: It’s easy to imagine this race going the way of Chadwick Boseman vs. Anthony Hopkins in 2021. But I’ll happily go down with the ship and I expect you’ll tell my why I’m sunk for doing Cate dirty in the final days of the season.

joyceeng: Color me shocked that you are so seduced by last-minute campaigns. I love that Blanchett is taking the Kate Winslet and DDL Time endorsement pipeline as much as the next person, but this is all just great stuff for fans. If you’re a voter, you know by now who you’re voting for, and if you’re torn between them, a 14-minute behind-the-scenes video of Yeoh’s cover shoot that you’re most likely never gonna watch is not going to tip the scales. This is a harder race for pundits to call than for voters to vote on. As I said the other day, I’m not making changes until our “final” predictions next week because I am not here to flip-flop between them every three hours. So I still have Blanchett. Will I have her in nine days? Who knows. With the exception of Critics Choice, everything went as expected in this race — Blanchett took BAFTA, Yeoh took SAG — and the only thing significant about SAG was that Jamie Lee Curtis won too. Yeoh obviously has the stronger film and it’s really a matter of figuring out how much “Everything Everywhere” will win and if Yeoh is part of that package. She’s arguably fourth in terms of the film’s “locked” statuses. Best Picture winners have seldom swept in the expanded era, but with the way things have shaken out, “Everything Everywhere” is incredibly well positioned to do that. Right now, with the entire membership voting for the winners, I feel like the Oscars might meet in the middle between the SAG lovefest and the BAFTA cold shoulder. I can see it grabbing the same haul as “Million Dollar Baby”: picture, director, actress and supporting actor. It can really win a ton above the line if you toss in original screenplay and JLC. We’ve previously mused that Blanchett being “TÁR’s” best shot at a trophy and “Everything Everywhere” being so competitive in a bunch areas might be a detriment to Yeoh if voters want to spread the wealth, but with no solid runner-up to it in Best Picture and seeing how gaga the (American) industry is for it, they might just go down the ballot. That would leave “TÁR” empty-handed, and people will argue that voters will want to award “TÁR” somewhere. Do they though? Lots of seemingly well-liked films have been goose-egged.

SEE Experts slugfest: Spirit Awards predictions and guilds mania as Oscar voting begins

Christopher Rosen: We’ve been doing this for a while — this is our third season of Oscar Experts Typing — and one of the things I’ve learned from you besides all the other things is that voters don’t actually care about spreading the wealth and most people just vote for what they like. So it’s nice to think that “TÁR” — which as we have noted, over-performed with its nominations haul — should have some representation among the Oscar winners. But then also I don’t think voters really care. So I do think Lydia Tár can go home empty-handed, beat back to a world of “Monster Hunter.” I’m obviously a flip-flopper, but Yeoh’s entire campaign feels akin to what we saw with “CODA” last year. Yes, it’s apples to oranges — or performances to movies as it were — but I do think the overwhelming enthusiasm for Yeoh and “CODA” means something significant. Blanchett’s performance is more well liked than “The Power of the Dog,” to drag this hoary comp to its further ends, but I do think there are enough similarities here. Plus, I think voters like to vote for something or someone they think is going to win. Yeoh has the momentum because she won last, and that could push her over the top. But before we jet off here, what if this ends up being the biggest shock in history? I am, of course, floating the idea that Andrea Riseborough can win as Blanchett and Yeoh split the vote. “To Leslie” to Oscar stage? Joyce, help me.

joyceeng: Well, we know who Tom Cruise is rooting for! Allegedly. I’ve seen people in the Twitterverse suggest that Riseborough could Adrien Brody this joint, a terrible comp because Brody was nominated everywhere except Critics Choice, which had three (3) slots back then (the way they were!). Have we already forgotten how pressed everyone got over Riseborough’s Fisher and Mary McCormack‘s campaign that was masterminded because “To Leslie” had no money or visibility? Brody was also in a Best Picture nominee that won two other major prizes. Maybe if this field were way weaker Riseborough could pull it off, and I know the reasoning is that she’s untested against everyone, but that’s like the argument that “All Quiet on the Western Front” will win because it’s untested on the preferential ballot. I would totally welcome that final twist in this Best Actress race though. Me watching Film Twitter implode if that happens. But lemme go the other way here and bring up what some stans of both Blanchett’s and Yeoh’s performances have tried to manifest: a tie! You are dreadful at math, but what are the chances of that happening? And who will get the honor of being this year’s Ingrid Bergman?

SEE Oscar Experts Typing: Can ‘The Banshees of Inisherin’ avoid going home empty-handed at the SAG Awards?

Christopher Rosen: I mean, sure, there is a nonzero chance that happens. It would be fitting too, especially since Blanchett memorably used her Critics Choice Awards speech to question the concept of awards and putting actresses against each other. (That speech, of course, was ~ controversial ~ in some corners and thought to be something that could change the race. How young we were!) So if this ends Cady Heron-style, with everyone everywhere all at once getting a piece of the prize, maybe that’s what the race deserves. But fantasies aside, I’m sticking with Yeoh, at least until we make our final picks next week. I’ll leave you with the last word here and maybe that word is either Michelle Williams or Ana de Armas?

joyceeng: That ~ controversial ~ speech was the forefather (Petra’s father?) to Daniel Scheinert‘s ~ controversial ~ “Malcolm X” take and people desperately trying to make that into a Thing. We know de Armas has Colin Farrell‘s support at least. And too bad Paul Mescal is not a member (yet) or Williams could for sure count on his vote. Paul Mescal loves “Dawson’s Creek” confirmed.

Oscar odds for Best Actress
Who will win?

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