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Viola Davis will be campaigned in Best Supporting Actress for “Fences”

Viola Davis 600x300
Back on Sunday, a rumor that had been buzzing around the industry came true. If you’ve been following my early Oscar predictions, you may have noticed that when I predict Viola Davis, I give her a Best Actress nomination for Fences but list “Could Go Supporting” next to it. Well, now we know that she actually will be competing in Best Supporting Actress for her work in Fences, as reports have her being submitted there for Screen Actors Guild awards consideration. This has so far been met with a mixed response, which is pretty silly considering no one has seen the film, but it does clarify two different races, and that’s pretty noteworthy here.

Once again for those not in the know, the movie is a cinematic version of the stage play of the same name. The plot centers around an African American father named Troy (Washington) and the family he’s trying to raise in the 1950’s along with his wife Rose (Viola Davis). Troy struggles with race relations in the United States at the time, along with coming to terms with the various events of his life up until that point. The aforementioned Washington directs a script from the late playwright August Wilson, adapting his own work. The rest of the cast includes Stephen Henderson, Russell Hornsby, Saniyya Sidney, Mykelti Williamson, and many more. Cinematography is from Charlotte Bruus Christensen. The play won awards, so this definitely seems like an across the board player.

Now, it appears like the Best Actress race is thoroughly between Emma Stone for La La Land, Natalie Portman for Jackie, and Annette Bening for 20th Century Women. What Davis’ move to Supporting Actress means is that there’s another slot open in Actress. If you assume that Amy Adams takes the fourth spot for either Arrival or Nocturnal Animals, that leaves ladies like Jessica Chastain for Miss Sloane, Isabelle Huppert for Elle, Jennifer Lawrence for Passengers, Ruth Negga for Loving, and Meryl Streep for Florence Foster Jenkins looking like they have a bigger shot than they did a week ago. Those camps were certainly thrilled with this news coming down the pike.

On the flip side, Best Supporting Actress is a whole new ballgame now. Up until now, it seemed like Michelle Williams was the de facto frontrunner of late for Manchester by the Sea, with a slightly motley crew of other contenders, like Elle Fanning for 20th Centure Women or Live By Night, Greta Gerwig for 20th Century Women, Naomie Harris for Moonlight, Nicole Kidman for Lion, Laura Linney for Nocturnal Animals, Octavia Spencer for Hidden Figures, Kristen Stewart for Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, and more. Now, you throw Davis in and she has to be considered the frontrunner now. Other contenders could still make a play, maybe even Margo Martindale for The Hollars or Molly Shannon for Other People, but assuming Fences is at least good, Davis is sitting pretty.

Awards wise for Fences, it’s a contender with across the board potential, not just for Davis. Unless it somehow isn’t critical acclaimed, look for Paramount Pictures to campaign it everywhere, with one particular category placement now being set. Possible nominations include Best Picture, Best Director (for Washington), Best Actor (also for Washington), Best Supporting Actor (for Henderson), Best Supporting Actress (for Davis), Best Adapted Screenplay (for Wilson), Best Production Design, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing, Best Hairstyling & Makeup, and Best Original Score. There’s a chance that we’re looking at double digit nominations for this one. Just keep that in mind, since to beat back something like the current frontrunner La La Land, you really need this sort of widespread adoration, since that one already has it in its back pocket. We’ll see what happens, but Davis certainly looks to be in play for Supporting Actress, at the very least…

Stay tuned to see how Davis does in the Supporting Actress race!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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