Viola Davis (‘Fences’) skyrockets in Best Supporting Actress Oscar predictions after confirming placement

Just last week, “Fences” star Viola Davis was in seventh place to earn an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress. But now that her team has made the official announcement that she’ll campaign in this category (instead of the much more competitive lead race), she has jumped all the way up to second place in Gold Derby’s Oscar rankings. According to our Oscar experts derived from major media outlets, Davis now has racetrack odds of 4/1 to win that category, behind only Michelle Williams (“Manchester by the Sea”) who’s holding onto her frontrunner status at 9/4 odds. (What does this mean for the Best Actress race, where Davis was in second place to win? Read our related Oscar report.)

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It was just a few days ago that it was confirmed that two-time Oscar also-ran Davis will now campaign in the supporting category this awards season for her role as Rose Maxson in “Fences.” There was confusion because Davis won a Tony Award for the role in 2010 as a lead actress, while the woman who originated the role, Mary Alice, was awarded as a featured actress in 1987. That distinction had to do with billing as Davis’ name appeared above the title, making her a defacto lead while Alice was billed below the title and, therefore, presumed to be featured.

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Keep in mind that the actors branch of the academy has the right to nominate Davis as a lead anyway, like they did with Kate Winslet, who campaigned in supporting for “The Reader” in 2008 (she also had “Revolutionary Road” out that year), but ended up winning the Best Actress Oscar. “Fences” hasn’t screened for the press or the general public yet, so the best our Oscar experts can do is speculate, and a whopping 17 out of 24 now think Davis will earn a nomination.

Find out how ‘Fences’ will do at the Oscars this year

The pundits who predict Viola Davis will be nominated for Best Supporting Actress at the Oscars for “Fences” are: Thelma Adams (Gold Derby), Edward Douglas (Weekend Warrior), Joyce Eng (TV Guide), Matthew Jacobs (HuffPo), Tariq Khan (Fox News), Scott Mantz (Access Hollywood), Jack Mathews (Gold Derby), Tom O’Neil (Gold Derby), Christopher Rosen (Ent. Weekly), Paul Sheehan (Gold Derby), Nicole Sperling (Ent. Weekly), Sasha Stone (Awards Daily), Peter Travers (Rolling Stone), Brian Truitt (USA Today), Adnan Virk (ESPN), Jeffrey Wells (Hollywood-Elsewhere) and Susan Wloszczyna ( See more Oscar rankings from our Experts.

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

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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