Will Viola Davis make Oscar history with ‘The Woman King’?

Viola Davis has been nominated for four Oscars, more than any other Black actress in Hollywood history. She could extend that record and achieve a couple of more historic feats with “The Woman King,” which opened September 16.

Davis stars in “The Woman King” as General Nanisca, who leads a group of Agojie warriors in the African Kingdom of Dahomey in the 1820s. The film has a strongly favorable score of 77 on MetaCritic and a 94% freshness rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The Rotten Tomatoes critical consensus simply says, “All hail Viola Davis!” Indeed, individual reviews are calling her “magnificent,” “fierce and feeling.” She “shines,” “masterfully fine-tuning her performance to go from fierce to vulnerable.”

The actress earned her first Oscar nomination for “Doubt” (2008) at a time when it was almost unheard-of for a Black woman to be nominated twice by the academy. But she managed a second nomination (Best Actress for 2011’s “The Help”), and a third (Best Supporting Actress for 2016’s “Fences,” which she won), and a fourth (Best Actress for 2020’s “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom“). A fifth bid would add to that record total, but there’s more history up for grabs. If she prevails as Best Actress for “The Woman King,” she’ll be only the second Black woman to win a lead Oscar, following Halle Berry (2001’s “Monster’s Ball”). And she’d be the first Black actress with multiple competitive Oscars.

As of this writing Davis ranks third in the race for Best Actress according to the predictions of 15 Expert journalists we’ve surveyed so far. Of those, 10 are betting on her to be nominated, with Shawn Edwards (WDAF-TV FOX) saying that she’ll pull off that historic win. Do you agree?

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