Viola Davis in FENCES


Yesterday, we looked at what should shake-down with the awards for scripts, today, we start looking at the stars.

When it comes time to submit for your Oscar pools, you’ll have much to guess on. I mean, I don’t know what’s taking Best Short Documentary any better than you do! So it goes, that most Oscar pools are won on a guess. Happily though, there are some categories that are gimmes…and that’s what we’ll be discussing today.

This year, we have two supporting categories that are quite easy to call.

Octavia Spencer and Nicole Kidman comprise the pair of performers in the category who have hardware already on their mantle. While both are integral parts of HIDDEN FIGURES and LION respectively, neither one is about to go home Sunday night with a mate for their favorite piece of chachke.

Naomi Harris almost deserves this award for how little time she had to dedicate to it. The woman shot her entire part for MOONLIGHT during off days of the press tour for SPECTRE. My last day off, I spent it watching movies like MOONLIGHT and SPECTRE. Any other year, she might be higher up the depth chart…but this time around, she’s overmatched. Perhaps next time, Miss Moneypenny.

Once upon a time, this category seemed like it was going to Michelle Williams. Were that the case, we could call it less a trophy for a roll and more a trophy for a scene…but what a scene, eh? As award season has gone on though, Williams’ fragile performance in the much-lauded MANCHESTER BY THE SEA has failed to capture any voting group’s imagination…and she’s not about to break that trend now.

All of those talented women can rest easy, because there is no way in hell Sunday will not be Viola Davis’ night. Besides being an actor’s actor for far longer than most of us have noticed (seriously, look up the woman’s IMDb page – promise you’ll be surprised at what you didn’t remember she was in)…she is a titanic presence in FENCES. This is a worthy roll for her first win, and if there’s any shame in it, it’s that Paramount didn’t have the stones to push her as a leading lady. Her win would carry that much more heft if it was for the leading performance that it is.

Minor quibble, since it will still be Vi’s night.

Ryan’s Pick… If your ballot doesn’t say “Davis”, you’re leaving money on the table.

The boys are similarly easy a group to sort through.

Welcome to the party Lucas Hedges! Now say it with me: “It’s an honour just to be nominated”

The warm and fuzzy part of me would like Jeff Bridges to stand a better shot, especially since if would mean an actual win for the slightly-underrated HELL OR HIGH WATER. Unfortunately, not only is this not in the cards for The Dude, but it wasn’t all that long ago that he was nominated for a similar bit of work in TRUE GRIT. He didn’t win for that, so he ain’t winning for this.

If this category were for Best Supporting Hair, Dev Patel would take it in a walk. Unfortunately, where his acting chops are concerned, he’s overmatched this year. However, let us hope that this validation of a former juvenile actor is a sign that the system isn’t quite done with him yet…and that more complexed parts are in-store for the former “chaiwala”.

God, do I ever wish Michael Shannon stood more of a chance. I mean, I seriously love what the man brings to every single film that he’s in. He is incapable of mailing it in, and even brings life to the lousy movies that he takes part in. He is both heartbreaking and bone-chilling in NOCTURNAL ANIMALS, but that film hasn’t managed to latch-on anywhere else, and even if Shannon stands as the spoiler in this category…his odds of spoiling are slim.

Learn to pronounce Mahershala Ali’s name and then mark it n your ballot. He will be climbing on to Oscar’s stage Sunday night, and likely gracing us with some glorious words of thanks. His work in MOONLIGHT is so stunning, that there is a noticeable void when he exits the narrative at the end of the first act. He brings a complicated embodiment of masculinity to life, and is freakishly poised with every line he is given to deliver. He has quietly been making the rounds in film and television for a few years now: Sunday will officially serve as his leap to the spotlight.

Ryan’s Pick… Ali, bumaye!


Whaddaya think folks? Leave comments with your own thoughts on possibilities and predictions of the Best Supporting races.