Sunday, October 23, 2016

Topic Of The Day: Viola Davis Will Be Campaigned Supporting For Fences


It appears that Paramount Studios and Viola Davis' reps are no longer "on the fence" about where her category placement will be in the Oscar race. According to The Playlist, Viola Davis will be competing for Best Supporting Actress for Fences. 

While I've expressed my doubts over this decision before it became official, I still think it makes sense. When the role was originated by Mary Alice in 1987, she won the Tony for Best Featured Actress In A Play (their version of Supporting). So even though Davis won the Tony for Best Lead Actress In A Play, the role is still a marginal lead.

Also, you have the most competitive Best Actress race in years. Emma Stone won Best Actress at Venice for Best Picture frontrunner La La Land while Natalie Portman is getting the best reviews of her career for Jackie. The similarly overdue Annette Bening is getting raves for 20th Century Women with people like Anne Thompson from Indiewire saying she's "A Frontrunner" yet legendary actress Isabelle Huppert is on the hunt for her first nomination for Elle. We also have breakout star Ruth Negga in Loving, Amy Adams' one-two punch of Arrival and Nocturnal Animals, perennially nominated Meryl Streep for Florence Foster Jenkins, Jessica Chastain whose getting early positive buzz for Miss Sloane, likely Globe nominee Sally Field for Hello, My Name Is Doris, and Taraji P. Henson for the late breaking potential crowdpleaser Hidden Figures. 

Best Supporting Actress, though, is looking very sparse. The only two likely sure things are Michelle Williams for Manchester By The Sea and Naomie Harris for Moonlight with Harris having a slight edge. Harris is in a film that is getting "best of the year" mentions, her role as the main character's addict mom is very baity, the film is already doing nicely in the specialty box office (making $414,740 in only 4 theaters in its opening weekend) and she's the only actor to appear in all three acts of the film which might be a strike against Williams who apparently only has a handful of scenes in her picture.

But if Viola Davis goes Supporting for a marginal Lead role, then she might have this in the bag. Of course, even though we know she'll deliver because she's great in everything that she's in, nobody has seen the film yet. But she does have a strong overdue narrative, having almost won Best Lead Actress for The Help and it would be a historic 3rd acting nomination because only her and Whoopi Goldberg are currently the only women of color to have more than one acting nomination. Plus, she's been on an awards roll for How To Get Away With Murder which won her a historic Emmy and 2 Screen Actors Guild wins. So there's a sense there itching to reward her for the right film role and this could very well be it.