Michelle Yeoh is one of the leading contenders at this year’s award season, thanks to her career-best performance in the Daniels’ absurdist comedy Everything Everywhere All at Once. Just last year, Yeoh played a prominent supporting role in Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, proving her versatility as a performer.
Indeed, actors must be adaptable if they want to survive in the hyper-competitive business of Hollywood. Like Yeoh, these performers are masters of camouflage, easily juggling prestigious and awards-friendly projects and superhero fare, making them some of the industry’s hardest-working actors.
One of the most celebrated and iconic actresses of her generation, Michelle Yeoh, is finally getting her dues thanks to her brilliant work in Everything Everywhere All at Once. The veteran Malaysian actress has been playing supporting roles in major franchises for years, but EEAAO finally places her front and center in a story about fate, legacy, and family.
Yeoh’s filmography is long and varied, with major blockbusters, rom-coms, and character-driven dramas. A versatile and compelling actress, Yeoh is a magnetic screen presence in every project, bringing a sense of warmth, experience, and empathy to her characters.
Since his breakthrough performance in the Coen Brothers’ 2011 black comedy Inside Llewyn Davis, Oscar Isaac has been a consistent and impressive presence on the big and small screen. Isaac has attracted major praise for his performances in films like the thought-provoking sci-fi Ex-Machina and the crime drama A Most Violent Year.
However, Isaac is also well-acquainted with the superhero genre. He played the iconic villain Apocalypse —and was the only good thing—in 2016’s X-Men: Apocalypse before suiting up as the hero Moon Knight, one of the MCU’s new heroes from Phase Four, in the eponymous Disney+ show.
Viola Davis is already the most Oscar-nominated Black actress in history, which should be more than enough to confirm her talent. Beyond awards, Davis is one of her generation’s most compelling and expressive performers. Delivering raw and nuanced performances every time, Davis is not one to fake anything; she will go the extra mile, even if the material is underwhelming.
Last year, Davis graced the screen with her perfect take on Amanda Waller in James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad. This year, she portrayed an African warrior in the thrilling action piece The Woman King, in a role that’s already generating considerable Oscar buzz. Davis is an acting juggernaut, and the DC Universe is lucky to have her.
Although a relative newcomer to the big leagues, Barry Keoghan has quickly made a name for himself as a daring and interesting performer. His performance in Yorgos Lanthimos‘ psychological horror The Killing of a Sacred Deer launched his career, leading to bigger roles in films like this year’s The Banshees of Inisherin, which might earn him his first Oscar nomination.
Keoghan entered the superhero world with last year’s Eternals, the MCU’s most experimental film to date. He returned to the world of capes and tights with this year’s The Batman, playing the now-iconic role of Joker, although his scene ended on the cutting floor.
Although her career began in Australian television, Margot Robbie‘s big break came with Martin Scorsese‘s 2013 black comedy The Wolf of Wall Street. Robbie’s career then exploded, thanks to films like I, Tonya and Bombshell, which earned her Oscar nominations.
This year, Robbie is back in the awards conversation thanks to Damian Chazelle‘s Babylon, which might result in her third Oscar nod. Robbie is still DC’s Harley Quinn, and while the franchise’s future is uncertain, her close relationship with James Gunn and the praise her take on the character has received might secure her return for future projects.
Robert Pattinson spent years building a career as an experimental actor following his stint in the Twilight saga playing the sparkly vampire Edward Cullen. Working alongside directors like the Safdie brothers, David Cronenberg, and Robert Eggers, Pattinson cemented himself as one of his generation’s most versatile and daring actors.
After years of starring in indie productions, Pattinson returned to the world of big-budget films with Matt Reeves‘ The Batman. Already considered one of the best actors to wear the Bat costume, Pattinson will next work with Bong Joon-ho before returning to the gloom of Gotham City for another round.
Since her breakthrough role in Sofia Coppola’s Oscar-winning dramedy Lost in Translation, Scarlett Johansson has been working non-stop. She began playing Black Widow in 2009 and remained in the MCU for the next twelve years, delivering one of the franchise’s most nuanced and compelling characterizations.
Johansson alternated her MCU stint with numerous intriguing projects, from Jonathan Glazer‘s underrated sci-fi masterpieceUnder the Skin to Spike Jonze’s innovative sci-fi rom-com Her. Johansson received two Oscar nominations in 2020 for her work in Noah Baumbach‘s Marriage Story and Taika Waititi‘s Jojo Rabbit.
Following his star-making performance in Mary Harron’s American Psycho, Christian Bale became one of Hollywood’s most successful leading men. He played Batman in Christopher Nolan‘s genre-defining Dark Knight trilogy and returned to the comic book universe with Waititi’s Thor: Love and Thunder.
In between Batman films, Bale won the 2011 Academy Awad for Best Supporting Actor for his work in The Fighter. He received additional nominations for his performances in 2013’s American Hustle, 2015’s The Big Short, and 2018’s Vice.
Already an Academy Award nominee, Florence Pugh is quickly coming for Saoirse Ronan‘s title of “Hollywood’s most critically-acclaimed actress under 30.” Pugh has starred in some incredible movies, including the underrated gem Fighting with my Family and the new classics Midsommar and Little Women.
Pugh joined the MCU in 2021, playing Yelena Belova in Black Widow, becoming the only memorable part of an otherwise forgettable movie. She reprised the role for yet another disposable project, the Disney+ miniseries Hawkeye, once again being the only saving grace. She’ll finally lead her own movie with Thunderbolts, coming out in 2024.
No actor balances superhero films with prestige projects like the one and only Benedict Cumberbatch. The acclaimed English actor, two-time Oscar-nominee, and Emmy winner is one of the industry’s most acclaimed Thespians, known for his intense and powerful performances and penchant for playing morally complex characters.
Cumberbatch began 2022 by receiving an Oscar nomination for his brilliant work in Jane Campion‘s thrilling neo-Western The Power of the Dog. He then starred in the highly-anticipated Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, reprising his role as the (former) Sorcerer Supreme. Cumberbatch goes from crowd-pleasing superhero films to auteur-driven projects with ease, cementing him as one of Hollywood’s hardest-working actors.
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