As we finally reach the business end of the longest awards season of our lives, there is a new plot twist in the unruly Best Actress Oscar race: Viola Davis is now No. 1 among our Experts. The “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” star, as of this writing, has 12 Experts backing her for the win on Sunday, eclipsing the nine for Carey Mulligan (“Promising Young Woman”).
However, that’s still not enough for Davis to reclaim first place in the overall rankings as Mulligan still holds 7/2 odds to 19/5. Mulligan also has more editors (seven) and top 24 users (15) predicting her compared to the one and two, respectively, for Davis.
But this is still a huge development for Davis, who was in fourth place just three weeks ago behind Mulligan, Frances McDormand (“Nomadland”) and Andra Day (“The United States vs. Billie Holiday”). Then she won the Screen Actors Guild Award and started climbing through the ranks. She reached the No. 2 spot last week but had fewer No. 1 picks from Experts until now. Just days ago, seven Experts were predicting her. Why the sudden surge? Most are likely finalizing predictions and perhaps hadn’t even updated after SAG. Plus, with how unpredictable this race has been, who hasn’t constantly changed their pick, if not officially then at least in your head? Don’t be shocked if Davis picks up more No. 1s (or maybe even lose a few) before Sunday night.
Davis was in first place overall late last year as “Ma Rainey” hit Netflix, dethroning McDormand. Mulligan then bumped Davis out as “Promising Young Woman” started making waves and hitting precursors. Despite losses at the Golden Globes (to Day) and SAG, both of which she was predicted to win, and getting snubbed by the BAFTA jury, Mulligan hasn’t relinquished the top spot. To be fair, no one else has emerged as a dominant frontrunner as all the precursors have gone to different people.
Day is in third place, with five Experts forecasting a victory, followed by McDormand, with two, and Vanessa Kirby (“Pieces of a Woman”), the only one without a top placement.
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