Viola Davis (‘Fences’): Can anyone edge out this Oscar frontrunner?

Viola Davis has been the heaviest of Oscar favorites ever since it was announced she would be competing in the supporting actress category and not for lead for her work in “Fences.” Currently, there are five other real contenders hoping for a nomination (one of whom will be disappointed) but has any genuinely got a chance of stealing the Oscar from Davis?

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1) Michelle Williams, “Manchester by the Sea” – 4/1 odds
Williams has been the consistent runner-up this Oscar season, with most experts and pundits placing her second. She’s got all the nominations necessary – SAG, BAFTA, Golden Globe – and is featured in a film which is competing for the major prizes at all awards groups. So if “Manchester by the Sea” manages to pull off an upset and sweep, she could go along for the ride. Davis, meanwhile, is her film’s best chance of awards success by far. Williams is already a three-time Oscar nominee (this would be her fourth nomination), while Davis has been nominated twice – so there is precedence to claim that Williams is a little more overdue, but that’s a stretch given Davis’ career.

2) Naomie Harris, “Moonlight” – 9/2 odds
Harris is pretty much the same story as Williams – all the same precursor prize nominations and a film competing for all the major Oscars. Again, if “Moonlight” is having a great Oscar night, Harris could well be a winner too. What helps Harris is that “Moonlight” is seen as an important film, perhaps more so than “Manchester by the Sea” or “Fences.”

3) Nicole Kidman, “Lion” – 15/2 odds
Kidman is a Best Actress Oscar champ (“The Hours”) and has two other nominations in that category. She’s the most famous name on this list. Might the academy like to reward one of our most-renowned actresses one more time? Perhaps, although I do believe they’d prefer to reward Davis now after her near-misses in “Doubt” and “The Help.” Davis is just as much as a veteran, plus her awards-success for “How to Get Away with Murder” has made her very prominent in the last couple of years.

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4) Octavia Spencer, “Hidden Figures” – 9/1
Spencer, too, has nominations at SAG and the Globes, but missed out at BAFTA in favur of Hayley Squires of “I, Daniel Blake.” Although “Hidden Figures” is surpassing a lot of expectations this season, including a Best Ensemble SAG nod, Spencer seems destined to be an also-ran. But that’s not a bad thing, given her fine work in this ensemble drama and the Oscar already sitting on her mantlepiece from her Best Supporting Actress win for “The Help.” I’m sure she’d be as thrilled as the rest of us for her co-star from that film to take away an Academy Award of her own.

5) Greta Gerwig, “20th Century Women” – 66/1
Despite her outstanding work in Mike Mills’ drama, Gerwig is a long-shot to snag an Oscar nomination after being snubbed by the Globes, SAG and BAFTA. The best Oscar hope for “20th Century Women” is long-overdue Annette Bening for Best Actress. .

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