Viola Davis poised to be 8th actress to pull off this Oscar double play with win for ‘Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom’

Last year, Renee Zellweger became the seventh actress to win both categories at the Oscars. She prevailed in Best Actress for her riveting portrayal of Judy Garland in “Judy.” She’d taken home the Supporting Actress award in 2004 for “Cold Mountain.” This year, Viola Davis is poised to do the same, with a win for her star turn in the Netflix drama “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” As of this writing she sits atop the chart for Best Actress for “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” according to our exclusive predictions. She won four years ago for her featured role in “Fences.”

The first half dozen women to win both Academy Awards were:

1. Helen Hayes: Best Actress for “The Sin of Madelon Claudet” (1932) and Best Supporting Actress for “Airport” (1971);

2. Ingrid Bergman: Best Actress for “Gaslight” (1945) and “Anastasia” (1957), and Best Supporting Actress for “Murder on the Orient Express” (1975);

3. Maggie Smith: Best Actress for “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie” (1970) and Best Supporting Actress for “California Suite” (1979);

4. Meryl Streep: Best Supporting Actress for “Kramer vs. Kramer” (1980), and Best Actress for “Sophie’s Choice” (1983) and “The Iron Lady” (2012);

5. Jessica Lange: Best Supporting Actress for “Tootsie” (1983) and Best Actress for “Blue Sky” (1995); and

6. Cate Blanchett: Best Supporting Actress for “The Aviator” (2005) and Best Actress for “Blue Jasmine” (2014).

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As with Zellweger and Davis, the three most recent additions to this roster won their supporting awards first before prevailing in the lead category. Conversely, the first trio of talented women won for their starring roles before then adding to their mantle Oscars for their scene-stealing featured parts.

Davis had contended in both categories — supporting for “Doubt” (2009) and lead for “The Help” (2012) — before she won for “Fences.” As with “Ma Rainey,” that was also an adaptation of an August Wilson play. Davis is one of the leading interpreters of the late playwright’s works, having made her Broadway debut in “Seven Guitars” in 1996 and winning Featured Actress at the Tony Awards five years later for “King Hedley II” and the lead award in 2010 for the revival of “Fences.”

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