It’s been confirmed that Viola Davis will be campaigning in the Best Supporting Actress category for her performance in Fences instead of Best Actress. Variety reports that Viola screened the film last week and made the decision herself. The current Best Supporting Actress frontrunner is Michelle Williams for Manchester By The Sea. Now that Viola is part of the conversation though, there’s no question, given her talent and her reputation (she is LOVED) that she’s moved ahead.
Viola has an Emmy. She has a Tony. People are already saying she’s a lock for Oscar. So, after that, it’ll just be a Grammy. I say “just” like it’s easy and, of course, no, it’s not easy. But I just want to point out that Gwyneth Paltrow has been nominated for a Grammy and Kate Winslet has a Grammy (both for spoken word albums) so, you know, I don’t see why Viola Davis, couldn’t do the same.
But Viola can make history in other ways. According to The Film Experience, she “will … become the most nominated black actress at the Oscars ever if she's nominated for Fences (which will be her 3rd nomination)”. Also, “(if) Viola is nominated for Fences she becomes not just the most nominated black actress but the most nominated black woman of all time in any category”.
As for those wondering if this is “category fraud” the way Alicia Vikander and Rooney Mara did it last year because Viola’s Tony for this role was in the Best Actress category, there is precedent in that 1987, Mary Alice also won a Tony in the play for the Tony equivalent of Best Supporting Actress.
So…you see now why there’s probably a lot of relief from the Best Actress contenders now that they’re not up against Viola. That would be Emma Stone (La La Land) and Natalie Portman (Jackie). Cage match? Wellllll… even though Viola’s not in their race, Annette Bening is. And Annette Bening is overdue too.
This is the most competitive Best Actress race we’ve had in a while. I can’t wait to watch these campaigns, to see how bad they each want it. We’ve already seen Emma Stone getting out early on the circuit. Natalie Portman is a gamer too. How hard is she going to hustle? Here she is in LA out in friends yesterday.