Michelle Yeoh has had an impressive career, first appearing on our screens back in the 1980s and rising to fame in the 1990s. Her career grew after she starred in multiple Hong Kong action films before gaining international recognition for her roles in Tomorrow Never Dies, part of the James Bond franchise, and Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. But I want to highlight Yeoh’s career for one of the more recent films that she did, namely Everything Everywhere All At Once. She has achieved critical acclaim for her role as Evelyn Wang, a Chinese-American woman who is disillusioned with life, for good reason. Yeoh puts her everything into this role and shows how Evelyn’s feelings of discontent can be universal, after all we’ve all felt overwhelmed with life at some point. Along with co-stars Ke Huy Quan and Stephanie Hsu, Yeoh’s performance packs an emotional punch. The success of this film has led to Yeoh becoming the first Asian woman to become nominated for a leading actress at the Oscars. The importance of this cannot be understated, especially when Halle Berry is still the only woman of colour to receive a win for leading actress at this awards show. Not only that, but Yeoh truly deserves to win after the masterful storytelling she constructs in Everything Everywhere All At Once.
There is no doubt that Florence Pugh has been an unstoppable force in the film industry since first appearing on our screens back in 2014. The 27-year-old-actress has tackled a wide breadth of genres in her career so far and it’s no doubt that she will go far in the years to come. One of my personal favourite roles of Pugh is her performance as Amy March in Greta Gerwig’s Little Women, perhaps one of the best showcases of her acting. The role earned her a nomination for best supporting actress at the 2020 Oscars, something which is certainly due to the growth that she portrays via Amy’s character. Playing both her younger and older self, Pugh distinctly separates the two so that the audience grasps how much the character emotionally grows over the course of the film. It shows Pugh’s great physicality, as the younger iteration of the character is often pouty and sprawly whilst older Amy holds herself more formally. But it is not just this role that showcases Pugh’s great talent, her other roles such as Midsommar and Lady Macbeth demonstrate how she commands the screen. Pugh is remarkable at making her characters feel like real people, showing their fear, happiness and convictions without alienating them from the audiences.
Ariana DeBose did the thing! The actress made history at last year's Oscars by becoming the first queer woman of colour to win an award for best supporting actress. DeBose has received critical acclaim for her role as Anita in Spielberg’s West Side Story, something which was no easy feat when stepping into the shoes of Rita Moreno, who previously played the character. It was in this role that DeBose was able to switch between showing off the sheer star power she has in the song numbers and the more dramatic moments within the storyline. The actress has also previously said that filming West Side Story gave her the opportunity to completely immerse herself in a way that she had not previously been afforded. DeBose’s talent not only as an actress, but also as a singer and dancer means that her career will certainly be one to watch out for over the next few years. Off-screen, DeBose is also a strong advocate for the LGBTQ+ community, founding the Unruly Hearts Initiative with Jo Ellen Pellman to help support young people and their parents with their identity journey.
Mia Goth has cemented herself as one of horror’s best actresses in just two films, specifically X and Pearl. The latter film is only just about to come to UK cinemas but nevertheless Goth has received critical acclaim for both films. Horror as a genre is often overlooked, but performances from actresses like Goth means that it is being more widely recognised by critics and audiences alike. In X, the actress doubles as two roles, namely aspiring adult film star final girl Maxine and the stalkerish killer Pearl. The latter character is much older than the other, but Goth deftly shows how women of two different eras are desperate for longing attention. Of course, it is the final girl who comes out on top, but Goth still manages to portray how both of them will go to any lengths possible to get what they want. Impressively, Goth also co-wrote Pearl with director Ti West but has taken the role with a more character-driven approach rather than focusing too much on plot. The work that Goth does is highly stylized, with her other roles including Suspiria and A Cure for Wellness, and she has set her screen presence as both grounded and ethereal. Although Goth herself has stated that she does not view her roles as part of horror, there is no doubt that she is a scream queen and icon of the genre.