The UK’s leading film critics, the London Critics Circle have today announced that Michelle Yeoh will receive their top honour. She will receive the Dilys Powell Award for Excellence in Film, at their 43rd London Critics’ Circle Film Awards ceremony on Sunday 5th February.
“Michelle Yeoh has been a favourite of the London critics from her earliest Hong Kong outings, even before she teamed up with James Bond in Tomorrow Never Dies,” says Rich Cline, Chair of the Critics’ Circle Film Section. “And we named her blockbuster fantasy Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon the Foreign-Language Film of the Year 2000. We are delighted to give the Dilys Powell award to such a wonderful icon. She has a unique ability to combine take-no-prisoners action, wry humour and deeper emotional resonance in her roles.”
Yeoh has received critical acclaim for her portrayal of Evelyn Wang, a mother discovering her identity in the multiverse, in Everything Everywhere All at Once. She won the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Drama, and also earned her first Oscar nomination, a second Bafta nomination, SAG nomination and Critics Choice nomination for the role.
Born in Ipoh, Malaysia, Yeoh studied ballet from the age of 4 and moved to London to study at the Royal Academy as a teen. When an injury ended her career in dance, Yeoh went on to earn a BA in creative arts, minoring in drama, in 1982. Known as Michelle Khan in her early films, she achieved fame in the 1990s with starring roles in Hong Kong action films such as Yes, Madam (1985), In the Line of Duty (1986) and Police Story 3: Supercop (1992), in which she also performed her own stunts.
Following her international breakout with Tomorrow Never Dies (1997) and Ang Lee‘s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000), Yeoh wrote the story for The Touch (2002) and built her undeniable presence with roles in Memoirs of a Geisha (2005), Danny Boyle‘s Sunshine (2007) and Kung Fu Panda 2 (2011).
More recently, she brought star power to supporting roles in romantic comedies Crazy Rich Asians (2018) and Last Christmas (2019), and she took on the Marvel Cinematic Universe in both Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol 2 (2017) and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021). Meanwhile on TV, Yeoh’s recurring roles in The Witcher: Blood Origin and Star Trek: Discovery has made her a favourite of fantasy and science-fiction fans.
Yeoh is currently in pre-production on Jon M Chu’s Wicked as Madame Morrible, and she recently wrapped production on Kenneth Branagh’s A Haunting in Venice. Upcoming this year, she will star in American Born Chinese and The Brothers Sun.
Named in honour of influential film critic Dilys Powell, who wrote for the Sunday Times for 50 years, this is the first Excellence in Film award that the London critics have presented since 2019, as they opted not to offer the special honour in virtual ceremonies. Last year’s virtual ceremony saw Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog take four awards: Film, Director, Actor and Supporting Actor of the Year.