The acclaimed actress, producer and UNDP Goodwill Ambassador will receive the Dilys Powell Award for Excellence in Film at the UK critics’ 43rd annual ceremony on 5th February 2023.

The UK’s leading film critics today announced that Michelle Yeoh will receive their top honour, the Dilys Powell Award for Excellence in Film, at the 43rd London Critics’ Circle Film Awards ceremony on Sunday 5th February at The May Fair Hotel.

“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. This year, the Critics’ Circle will present a line-up of awards in international and British/Irish categories. The nominations were announced on 21st December at The May Fair Hotel, which is where the winners will be presented on 5th February. 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.

The awards are given by the 200-member Film Section of the Critics’ Circle, the UK’s longest-standing and most prestigious critics’ organisation. The May Fair Hotel, part of Edwardian Hotels London, is the main sponsor of the event. Awards sponsors this year are The House of Koko, the new private members club which is part of the iconic London music venue; leading film, television and online media school MetFilm; and creative-industry accountants Nyman Libson Paul. New sponsors this year include premium non-alcoholic sparkling wine Wild Idol; large-format printing specialists Wahooti; chauffeur service Excel Executive; and live production company, which will livestream the ceremony on the Critics’ Circle YouTube channel @CriticsCircleFilmSection.

Photo Credit: Thomas Laisne

Previous winners of the Dilys Powell Award for Excellence in Film:

1991 Dirk Bogarde
1992 Freddie Young
1993 Christopher Lee
1994 Richard Attenborough
1995 Wendy Hiller
1996 John Mills
1997 Michael Caine
1998 John Hurt
1998 Albert Finney
1999 Mike Leigh
2000 Richard Harris
2001 Charlotte Rampling
2002 Lewis Gilbert
2003 Tom Courtenay
2004 Ken Loach
2005 Bryan Forbes
2006 Leslie Phillips
2007 Julie Walters
2008 Judi Dench
2009 Quentin Tarantino
2010 Kristin Scott Thomas
2011 Nicolas Roeg
2012 Helena Bonham Carter
2013 Gary Oldman
2014 Miranda Richardson
2015 Kenneth Branagh
2016 Isabelle Huppert
2017 Kate Winslet
2018 Pedro Almodovar
2019 Sally Potter
2019 Sandy Powell