Oscar shocker: Viola Davis (‘Fences’) will campaign for Best Supporting Actress, not lead

Viola Davis will campaign for Best Supporting Actress and not in the lead category for her role in “Fences” at the next Oscars, Golden Globes and other film awards. The news was reported by Anne Thompson of IndieWire on Sunday, October 23. How will this affect her chances of winning during this awards season?

WATCH: ‘Fences’ trailer with Denzel Washington & Viola Davis

Davis won a Tony Award for the 2010 Broadway revival of “Fences” in the lead category as Rose Maxson, long-suffering wife of retired baseball player Troy. Denzel Washington, who also picked up a Tony for his lead character, reprises his role and directs the film. But in the first run of “Fences” on Broadway in 1987, Mary Alice played the role of Rose and won as a featured (supporting) actress, so there is precedent for Davis to compete in that category.

If nominated at the Oscars, it would be the third time for Davis. She had a supporting bid for the 2008 film “Doubt” (losing to Penelope Cruz for “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”) and a lead nomination for the 2011 movie “The Help” (losing to Meryl Streep for “The Iron Lady”). For that latter awards run, she did prevail at the SAG Awards and Critics’ Choice Awards. She is also starring on ABC’s “How to Get Away With Murder” which brought her an Emmy in 2015 and SAG Awards in 2015 and 2016.

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The race for Best Actress at the 2017 Academy Awards is very intense this year. According to our exclusive Gold Derby odds from 24 Experts, Davis is in fourth place in that category with 8/1 odds as of this writing. She trails Emma Stone (“La La Land”) at 23/10, Natalie Portman (“Jackie”) at 4/1, and Ruth Negga (“Loving”) at 9/2. Others in the mix are Annette Bening (“20th Century Women”), Amy Adams (“Arrival”), Jessica Chastain (“Miss Sloane”), Taraji P. Henson (“Hidden Figures”), Isabelle Huppert (“Elle”), and Streep (“Florence Foster Jenkins”).

We just recently added Davis as an option in the supporting category, so several of our Experts haven’t placed her there yet. Even with that fact, she has quickly climbed into the third spot with 13/2 odds. News of the official campaign decision by Davis and Paramount might cause pundits to position her there or move her even higher on their lists. For the moment, she trails Michelle Williams (“Manchester by the Sea”) at 11/5 and Naomie Harris (“Moonlight”) at 9/2. Others strongly competing for supporting include Nicole Kidman (“Lion”), Kristen Stewart (“Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk”), Aja Naomi King (“The Birth of a Nation”), Felicity Jones (“A Monster Calls”), Octavia Spencer (“Hidden Figures”), and Greta Gerwig (“20th Century Women”).

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Be sure to make your Oscar predictions. Weigh in now with your picks so that Hollywood insiders can see how Davis is faring in our Oscar odds. Since Oscar voters can place her wherever they choose, we will continue to leave her as option for both lead and supporting categories. 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.

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