As of this writing Viola Davis is the predicted Oscar front-runner for Best Actress for “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” with 19/5 odds, according to the combined predictions of Gold Derby users. If she wins, she’ll be following an eerily similar trajectory to Renée Zellweger (“Judy“), who won this category last year.
Back in the early 2000s, Zellweger was Oscar-nominated three years in a row. Her first two bids were in Best Actress for 2001’s “Bridget Jones’s Diary” and 2002’s “Chicago.” The latter won her a Golden Globe and SAG Award, but she ended up losing the Oscar to Nicole Kidman for “The Hours.” But in 2003, Zellweger swept the season with wins at the Critics’ Choice, Golden Globe, SAG, and BAFTA Awards for her performance in “Cold Mountain,” which resulted in her very first Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.
Then in 2019, Zellweger starred as Judy Garland in “Judy,” a biographical film under the direction of acclaimed theater director Rupert Goold and adapted from Peter Quilter‘s stage play titled “End of the Rainbow.” It followed the troubled showbiz legend in the months leading up to her premature death in 1969. It not only brought Zellweger back to the Oscars for the first time since “Cold Mountain,” but she also ended up winning for a second time, this time for Best Actress.
Compare that to Davis’s Oscars run. In 2008, she earned her first Oscar nomination for her supporting role in John Patrick Shanley‘s film adaptation of his award-winning stage play “Doubt.” Like Zellweger, Davis came awfully close to winning on her second try: in 2011, she claimed Critics’ Choice and SAG Awards for her performance in “The Help,” but ended up losing the Oscar to Meryl Streep for “The Iron Lady.”
And like Zellweger, Davis won on her third try. In 2016, she swept the season with wins at Critics’ Choice, Golden Globe, SAG, and BAFTA Awards for her performance in the Denzel Washington-helmed film adaptation of the August Wilson play “Fences,” which resulted in her first Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.
This year Davis stars as real-life blues singer Ma Rainey in a film adaptation of another August Wilson play, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” under the direction of acclaimed theater veteran George C. Wolfe. The story is set in 1927 at a recording studio in Chicago, where tensions rise between the trailblazing Mother of the Blues and her band when they gather for a recording session. This movie could not only bring Davis back to the Oscars for the first time since “Fences,” but she could also end up winning a second Oscar, this time for Best Actress.
Four nominations and two wins: Best Supporting Actress and then Best Actress for playing a real-life music legend in an adaptation of a stage play. Will history repeat itself with Davis following Zellweger to her second Oscar this year?
Make your predictions at Gold Derby now. Download our free and easy app for Apple/iPhone devices or Android (Google Play) to compete against legions of other fans plus our experts and editors for best prediction accuracy scores. See our latest prediction champs. Can you top our esteemed leaderboards next? Always remember to keep your predictions updated because they impact our latest racetrack odds, which terrify Hollywood chiefs and stars. Don’t miss the fun. Speak up and share your huffy opinions in our famous forums where 5,000 showbiz leaders lurk every day to track latest awards buzz. Everybody wants to know: What do you think? Who do you predict and why?