Last year, Octavia Spencer became the first black actress to get a follow-up Oscar nomination after winning, when she contended for “Hidden Figures” in Best Supporting Actress, the same category she won for “The Help” (2011). Now, the “Shape of Water” star can rewrite the Oscar annals again by becoming the first black actress to earn multiple nominations after winning.
Spencer is currently sitting in the precarious fifth spot in our Best Supporting Actress predictions, with a combined 10/1 odds, behind Laurie Metcalf (“Lady Bird,” 11/5 odds), Allison Janney (“I, Tonya,” 13/5 odds), Holly Hunter (“The Big Sick,” 13/2 odds) and Mary J. Blige (“Mudbound,” 17/2 odds). She suffered a setback when she was snubbed at the Screen Actors Guild Awards — as was the “Shape of Water” cast — but she rebounded with a BAFTA nomination. Coupled with the fact that “The Shape of Water” will likely be the nomination leader, is a top Best Picture contender, and she’s a well-liked star, Spencer is well positioned to make the cut and make history in the process.
The actress is one of eight black women who’ve won Oscars for acting. Halle Berry (“Monster’s Ball” ), of course, remains the only black Best Actress winner. Like Spencer, the other six were all in supporting: Hattie McDaniel (“Gone with the Wind” ), Whoopi Goldberg (“Ghost” ), Jennifer Hudson (“Dreamgirls” ), Mo’Nique (“Precious” ), Lupita Nyong’o (“12 Years a Slave” ) and reigning champ Viola Davis (“Fences”).
Davis doesn’t have a film in contention this year and none of the others have (yet) been nominated since taking home Oscar. Besides Spencer, Davis and Goldberg are the only other black actresses with multiple nominations. Goldberg was up in lead for 1985’s “The Color Purple,” while Davis contended in supporting for 2008’s “Doubt” and in lead for “The Help.” Spencer would join her former co-star as the only black actresses to receive three nominations.
Speaking of “The Help,” this could potentially be the third time Spencer is nominated alongside a co-star from the film. She beat Jessica Chastain, who was nominated for “The Help,” lost to Davis last year, and this year could face off against Janney.
Be sure to check out how our experts rank Oscar contenders in this and the other top races. Use the drop-down menus at the top of each page to see the other categories. Then take a look at the most up-to-date odds before you make make your Oscar nomination predictions. Don’t be afraid to jump in now since you can keep changing your predictions until just before nominees are announced on January 23.