Denzel Washington‘s biggest project to date is bringing the late August Wilson’s iconic play “Fences” to the big screen, and now many pundits are predicting that he’ll receive two nominations at the 2017 Oscars: Best Actor and Best Director. The 2010 Broadway revival scored 10 Tony nominations and won three: Best Revival of a Play and the two lead acting prizes for Washington and Viola Davis. While Washington is a lock for a seventh Oscar acting nomination (fifth for Best Actor), he’s also in the running for his first directing nom. Do you think he will earn double nominations? Vote in our “Fences” poll below.
This isn’t the first time the two-time Oscar champ has been behind the camera. He made his directorial debut helming Antwone Fisher’s life story “Antwone Fisher” (2002) Since then he has gone on to direct “The Great Debaters” (2007) and an episode of ABC’s medical drama “Grey’s Anatomy” that aired earlier this year. If Washington were to score a directing nomination for “Fences,” he would join an elite company of actor-directors that includes Woody Allen, Clint Eastwood, Robert Redford and Orson Welles.
The last big-name actor nominated in this category was George Clooney in 2006 for his second feature “Good Night, and Good Luck.” He was nominated alongside Paul Haggis (“Crash”), Ang Lee (“Brokeback Mountain”), Bennett Miller (“Capote”) and Steven Spielberg (“Munich”), with Lee winning. The film was nominated for six Oscars including another bid for Clooney for Best Original Screenplay. Like Washington this year, Clooney was also up for an acting nomination for Best Supporting Actor for “Syriana,” which he won. Could Washington replicate that similar success?
Washington’s path to an Oscar nomination has already started with a Best Director bid at the Critics’ Choice Awards. However, the directing branch in the academy is a different animal. Those voters usually like to vote for their own. That exclusivity is one of the main reasons Ben Affleck was snubbed for “Argo” in 2012 despite winning the major directing prizes that year. Instead, the nominees were Michael Haneke (“Amour”), Ang Lee (“Life of Pi”), David O. Russell (“Silver Linings Playbook”), Steven Spielberg (“Lincoln”) and Benh Zeitlin (“Beasts of the Southern Wild”), with Lee prevailing for a second time.
Zeitlin was the big surprise that year; his nomination was a statement. The directors were welcoming a young auteur on the rise into their club. That sentiment will likely be repeated this year with Damien Chazelle (“La La Land”) and Barry Jenkins (“Moonlight”) duking it out for helming their respective Oscar frontrunners. With those two slots locked up, plus past winner Martin Scorsese earning the veteran position for his passion project “Silence” and Kenneth Lonergan likely getting in for “Manchester By The Sea,” the final bid is up for grabs. Washington’s competition includes fellow actor-director Mel Gibson (“Hacksaw Ridge”), Pablo Larraín (“Jackie”), David Mackenzie (“Hell Or High Water”) and Denis Villeneuve (“Arrival”). See more Oscar odds and rankings.
Be sure to make your Oscar predictions. How do you think “Fences” will do with academy voters? Weigh in now with your picks so that Hollywood insiders can see how this film is faring in our Oscar odds. You can keep changing your predictions right up until just before nominations are announced on January 24 at 5:00 am PT/8:00 am ET. Be sure to read our contest rules. And join in the fierce debate over the Oscars taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our forums.