*Award season is now upon us, and Paramount has high hopes for its upcoming film adaptation of “Fences.” But its original plan to submit star Viola Davis alongside Denzel Washington for award consideration in the lead acting categories has been thwarted by the actress herself.
After finally seeing the film last week, Davis – who won the lead actress Tony for the revival of “Fences” six years ago – said she felt her screen performance as Rose Maxson was a supporting one, and Paramount is respecting her decision. Today (Oct. 24), the studio will submit her in the supporting category for Screen Actors Guild Awards consideration, according to Variety. The same is expected with the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. for the Golden Globes.
The sigh of relief you hear is likely coming from Davis’ would-be competition in the lead actress category this season, with performances from Emma Stone (“La La Land”), Natalie Portman (“Jackie”) and Annette Bening (“20th Century Women”) likely in the running.
Meryl Streep in “Florence Foster Jenkins,” Amy Adams in “Arrival” and newcomer Ruth Negga in “Loving” may also be in play for lead actress this awards season.
The Academy Awards, however, does not leave the submission category of actors up to the studios.
There had been some debate both online and off (and internally) about how this performance would be positioned. Sometimes the smallest things spark a little drama on this beat. But as ever, it will be up to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ actors branch to determine where to nominate the performance when it comes to the Oscars; unlike SAG, the Academy (and the HFPA, for that matter) is not bound by category placement.
Oscar voters have reversed category submissions before (Benicio Del Toro in “Traffic,” Kate Winslet in “The Reader”). HFPA members have as well (Rooney Mara in “Carol,” Alicia Vikander in “The Danish Girl”). Generally speaking, though, everyone falls in line.
And should Davis go on to win the supporting Oscar? She’ll join “The King and I” star Yul Brynner as one of only two actors to win a Tony and an Oscar in two different categories for the same performance.