First time lucky? Regina King (‘If Beale Street Could Talk’) could be latest actor to win Oscar on inaugural nomination

You may think that three-time Primetime Emmy Award winner Regina King has one or two Academy Award nominations under her belt, but she actually has never been nominated despite being a consistent, reliable film presence since the ’90s. But she might finally be able to rack up her first nomination and perhaps even win this season for her supporting performance in Barry Jenkins‘ “If Beale Street Could Talk.” If she does, she’d join a long list of actors who won their first Oscar on their inaugural nomination.

Recent champs to strike Oscar gold on their first nominations include:

1. Allison Janney (Best Supporting Actress for “I, Tonya,” 2017)
2. Mahershala Ali (Best Supporting Actor for “Moonlight,” 2016)
3. Brie Larson (Best Actress for “Room,” 2015)
4. Mark Rylance (Best Supporting Actor for “Bridge of Spies,” 2015)
5. Alicia Vikander (Best Supporting Actress for “The Danish Girl,” 2015)
6. Eddie Redmayne (Best Actor for “The Theory of Everything,” 2014)
7. Patricia Arquette (Best Supporting Actress for “Boyhood,” 2014)
8. J.K. Simmons (Best Supporting Actor for “Whiplash,” 2014)
9. Matthew McConaughey (Best Actor for “Dallas Buyers Club,” 2013)
10.Jared Leto (Best Supporting Actor for “Dallas Buyers Club,” 2013)
11. Lupita Nyong’o (Best Supporting Actress for “12 Years a Slave,” 2013)

Based on James Baldwin’s 1974 novel of the same name, “Beale Street,” which opens Nov. 30, follows about two childhood best friends, 22-year-old Fonny Hunt (Stephan James) and 19-year-old Tish Rivers (Kiki Layne), who eventually fall in love in 1970s Harlem. Their lives are turned upside down when Fonny is wrongfully convicted of a crime and is sentenced to prison, just as Tish learns she’s pregnant. King plays Tish’s mother, Sharon, who is as determined as her daughter to exonerate Fonny before Tish gives birth.

SEE Will Emmy winners Claire Foy and Regina King go head-to-heat at Oscars for Best Supporting Actress?

Critics have been impressed by King’s performance in the movie. Eric Kohn (Indiewire) says that King “owns every second she’s onscreen, as Sharon fights to contain her rage with wavering confidence.” Benjamin Lee (The Guardian) calls King “wonderfully measured” who has a “natural maternalism that leaps from a need to nurture to a desperate need to protect in a standout confrontation scene in the final act.” K. Austin Collins (Vanity Fair) praises both her and Colman Domingo, who plays her onscreen husband, for delivering “outstandingly rich, sensitive and, importantly, joyful performances.” And Keith Uhlich (Slant Magazine) states that “any sequence featuring King also tends toward sublime, eloquent melodrama.”

King has been in Best Picture nominees “Jerry Maguire” (1996) and “Ray” (2004), but she has never been recognized for her performances in them. She has, however, won three Emmys, two for her supporting performances in ABC’s anthology series “American Crime” (2015, 2016) and one just last month for her leading performance in Netflix’s limited series “Seven Seconds.” She’s also received acclaim in recent years for her work on critical favorites “Southland,” for which she won a Critics’ Choice Award, and “The Leftovers.” Worth mentioning as well is that she’s also a TV director, whose recent credits include “Scandal” (2015, 2016), “This Is Us” (2017), “The Good Doctor” (2018) and “Insecure” (2018).

SEE Barry Jenkins: ‘If Beale Street Could Talk’ is ‘angry as hell’ [WATCH]

Bottom line, King is a very well-respected person in the industry, who has good chances of riding her respect and talent to an Oscar victory. She also got some great news on Monday, when Fox Searchlight confirmed Olivia Colman (“The Favourite”) will be campaigning in lead, not supporting, clearing a path for King. In our early combined Oscar odds, King currently has 4/1 odds to not just received her first nomination but win Best Supporting Actress.

What do you think? Will King win her first Oscar on her inaugural nomination? Make sure to let us know in the comment section below.

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