Now this is a surprise; I’ve previously said that Viola Davis was certain to finally get her Oscar for Best Actress next year for her performance in the upcoming “Fences”. First of all, you know she’s going to Act in the film (with a capital “A”); second, there’s the #OscarsSoWhite brouhaha; and finally, she’s been nominated twice before – once for Best Supporting Actress for “Doubt”, and for Best Actress for “The Help”. She’s also a British Academy Award nominee for Best Actress for “The Help”. So, in terms of a Best Actress Oscar, she’s long overdue.
And even though Mary Alice, who played the same “Fences” role in the original 1978 Broadway production of the play won the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress, in the 2010 revival Davis co-starred in with Denzel Washington, her role was expanded (as it was for the film as well), and she won the Tony Award that year for Best Lead Actress in a Play.
Although she would have some tough competition in the Best Actress category for this year, from the likes of Natalie Portman in “Jackie”, Amy Adams for either “Arrival” or “Nocturnal Affairs”, Isabelle Huppert for Paul Verhoeven’s controversial rape revenge drama “Elle”, Emma Stone for the musical “La La Land”, and of course Ruth Negga for “Loving”, I still believed that the Best Actress Oscar was Davis’ to lose.
But that might not happen since, as The Playlist’s awards writer Greg Ellwood reports, Davis will instead compete for the Best Supporting Actress Oscar. Her name has already been submitted by Paramount in that category for the 2017 SAG Awards.
I should note that the studio hasn’t confirmed The Playlist’s report.
But assuming she will be submitted for Best Supporting Actress instead of Best Actress, and her role is clearly designated as the lead actress in “Fences”, why would the studio push for for Best Supporting Actress? Keep in mind that Davis had to agree with this strategy. She could have refused to go along with the studio, and demanded to be placed in the Best Actress category. Actors have done that before when they disagreed with the studio’s plans, and refused to campaign.
Perhaps the studio thinks she has a better chance to actually win an Oscar in the Best Supporting Actress category, where she would go up against, most likely Naomie Harris for “Moonlight” and most possibly Janelle Monae who is being talked up as a strong Best Supporting Actress Oscar potential by Fox for “Hidden Figures”.
Or maybe there’s another reason… what do you think?