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Viola Davis: Fences star will compete in Best Supporting Actress Oscar category

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Paramount Pictures

Ending months of speculation as to her placement in the ongoing awards race, EW has confirmed Viola Davis will campaign in the best supporting actress category for her role in the upcoming Denzel Washington-directed drama Fences. The Playlist first reported the news.

Shot in Pittsburgh earlier this year, the August Wilson adaptation revolves around a former baseball player, Troy Maxson (Washington), who works as a garbage man in the 1950s Pennsylvania city, lamenting his failed aspirations of becoming a major league competitor. Davis plays Maxson’s wife, Rose, and has been submitted for Screen Actors Guild Awards’ consideration as a supporting actress for her role in the film. 

Washington and Davis first starred in a 2010 stage production of the drama, going on to win Tony Awards (in the lead categories) for their performances as characters they reprise in the film version. In 1987, actress Mary Alice tackled the role of Rose, and won a Tony in the featured actress category (the Tony equivalent to the Oscars’ best supporting actress category).

David Lee

The 2016 race for the best actress Oscar continues to be one of the most competitive in recent memory, with heavy-hitters like Natalie Portman (Jackie), Isabelle Huppert (Elle), Taraji P. Henson (Hidden Figures), Annette Bening (20th Century Women), Ruth Negga (Loving), Amy Adams (Arrival), Meryl Streep (Florence Foster Jenkins), Sônia Braga (Aquarius), and Emma Stone, who already won the Venice Film Festival’s Volpi Cup for Best Actress for her work on Damien Chazelle’s current best picture frontrunner La La Land, gunning for one of five slots. 

In dropping to supporting, Davis will likely square off against the likes of Naomie Harris (Moonlight), Michelle Williams (Manchester by the Sea), Nicole Kidman (Lion), Kristen Stewart (Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk), Lupita Nyong’o (Queen of Katwe), Greta Gerwig (20th Century Women), and (perhaps several of) the women of Hidden Figures, including Janelle Monáe and Octavia Spencer, as the precursor awards bodies and critics circles begin announcing their annual award winners in the weeks ahead. 

Davis has been nominated by the Academy twice in the past decade. Her first nomination came in the best supporting actress category for her small role as Mrs. Miller, the mother of a potentially abused parish schoolboy, in John Patrick Shanley’s 2008 drama Doubt. She was later nominated for the best actress Oscar for her work on Tate Taylor’s The Help, in which she played Aibileen Clark, a maid working for a white family as racial tensions raged in 1963 Mississippi. 

Paramount will release Fences on Dec. 25. Watch the film’s first trailer below.