When the Screen Actors Guild awarded top honors to both Denzel Washington and Viola Davis for their work in “Fences,” this year’s Oscar race moved one step closer to breaking a long-standing curse. That pattern is now 27 years and running and deems it unlikely for a single film to win both Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress. This year the academy has two chances to meet that criteria — besides “Fences,” “Manchester by the Sea” could win both for lead Casey Affleck and supporting player Michelle Williams. Do you think either pair can pull off the difficult feat? Vote in our poll below.
In terms of nominations, recognition of a single film in both the Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress categories is quite common. In the last five years alone there were 12 instances of lead actor/supporting actress combined nominations, but none of those resulted in a win for both nominees. The last time a single film took home both awards was 27 years ago when Daniel Day-Lewis and Brenda Fricker won for “My Left Foot” (1989). The coupled victory that year was only the seventh time it’s happened in the 80 years since the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress was first awarded in 1936, making it one of the hardest Oscar patterns to break.
This year, “Fences” and “Manchester by the Sea” both have the opportunity to take home both prizes. Though the SAG-winning pair of Washington and Davis may have the edge over their competitors Affleck and Williams, current Gold Derby racetrack odds still project that the films will split the honors. Affleck leads the race for Best Actor with 8/13 odds over Washington’s 21/10 odds, while Davis is far ahead for Best Supporting Actress with 1/10 odds over Williams’ 33/1 odds.
For the Oscar curse to be broken either Washington or Williams will have to upset their competition at the same time that their co-star maintains their own lead, a balance that will prove tricky given Davis’ sizable lead and Washington’s lack of nomination at the upcoming BAFTA Awards.
If either pair of Washington & Davis or Affleck & Williams win both Oscars, they will become the eighth lead actor/supporting actress combination to do so, joining:
1949 — Broderick Crawford and Mercedes McCambridge for “All the King’s Men”
1954 — Marlon Brando and Eva Marie Saint for “On the Waterfront”
1958 — David Niven and Wendy Hiller for “Separate Tables”
1960 — Burt Lancaster and Shirley Jones for “Elmer Gantry”
1976 — Peter Finch and Beatrice Straight for “Network”
1979 — Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep for “Kramer vs. Kramer”
1989 — Daniel Day-Lewis and Brenda Fricker for “My Left Foot”
Be sure to make your Oscar predictions. Weigh in now with your picks so that Hollywood insiders can see how their films are faring in our Oscar odds. You can keep changing your predictions right up until just before winners are announced on February 26 at 5:00 pm PT/8:00 pm ET. And join in the fierce debate over the Oscars taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our forums.