awards season

Michelle Yeoh Spices Up the Best Actress Race at Last Minute

These glasses do say, “The library is open.” Photo: Arnold Jerocki/Getty Images

With all due respect to the lovely men in the Best Actor category at this or any other year of the Academy Awards, the Best Actress race is just the most exciting, isn’t it? There’s a reason that premiere Oscar video essayist, Be Kind Rewind, dedicates 45-minute-long videos to the Best Actress race and not the men. This year has been no exception. From The FabelmansMichelle Williams’s potential category fraud at the start of the season to To Leslie star Andrea Riseborough’s shocking nomination to the constant joint slay between Tár’s Cate Blanchett and Everything Everywhere All at Once’s Michelle Yeoh, this season’s race has been particularly rife with intrigue. But with the Oscars happening this Sunday, it seemed as if we might have smooth sailing into the finish line. Not so! Michelle Yeoh spiced up the conversation one last time Tuesday by posting screenshots to Instagram of a Vogue article discussing the scarcity of women of color who have won the Best Actress Oscar, which has been perceived as derisive toward a Blanchett win — the same day Oscars voting closed.

Yeoh posted the entire article to her page, but the slide that got the most attention included a section that some interpreted as being directed at Blanchett, her closest competitor. “Detractors would say that Blanchett’s is the stronger performance — the acting veteran is, indisputably, incredible as the prolific conductor Lydia Tár — but it should be noted that she already has two Oscars (for best supporting actress for The Aviator in 2005, and best actress for Blue Jasmine in 2014),” Radhika Seth writes in the piece, titled “It’s Been Over Two Decades Since We’ve Had a Non-White Best Actress Winner. Will That Change in 2023?” “A third would perhaps confirm her status as an industry titan but, considering her expansive and unparalleled body of work, are we still in need of yet more confirmation? Meanwhile, for Yeoh, an Oscar would be life-changing: her name would forever be preceded by the phrase ‘Academy Award winner,’ and it should result in her getting meatier parts, after a decade of being criminally underused in Hollywood.” Blanchett and Yeoh have been extremely supportive of each other throughout the race. They appeared in an “Actors on Actors” interview together for Variety and posed together on the red carpet, so public shade would be uncharacteristic of the race we’ve seen thus far.

Yeoh has since deleted the post, perhaps because of the controversy or, as the Daily Beast speculated, maybe because it could have broken the Oscar rule that prohibits “any tactic that singles out ‘the competition’ by name or titles is expressly forbidden.” Oscar rules have been in the public spotlight more than ever this season following the Academy’s semi-direct call-out of the Riseborough campaign, but their return to the conversation is a twist of fate even Olivia Newton-John couldn’t have seen coming. Given that Yeoh posted the article just hours before voting closed, it seems unlikely that one Instagram post will affect the outcome of the votes either for or against her or Blanchett. Still, we’ll take anything that ramps up the stakes on the way to Oscars night — maybe Raccacoonie should fight Bill Nighy next.

Michelle Yeoh Spices Up the Best Actress Race at Last Minute