The Best Supporting Actress Race: Is Viola the Lock, or Do We Smell an Upset?

The Best Supporting Actress Race: Is Viola the Lock, or Do We Smell an Upset?

Viola Davis (Fences)

It doesn’t get more Oscarey than Viola Davis in Fences. From the first trailer where she’s screaming at Denzel Washington with tears and snot all over her face, you can already feel her name being etched onto the statue. She’s the clear front-runner in this category. Many believe she got robbed for The Help in 2011 when she lost to Meryl “I haven’t seen Florence Foster Jenkins, but I’m still going to complain about her nomination” Streep for The Iron Lady. This is also her third nomination. Viola Davis shouldn’t need much “help” winning her first Oscar this year.

Chances of Winning: High

Is the Performance Worthy of an Oscar? Yes


Naomie Harris (Moonlight)

I’m surprised Naomie Harris isn’t getting more buzz. I can envision her pulling off a big upset. Out of all the nominees, her role was the most challenging. This is a harsh, unnerving performance. We’ve certainly seen this translate to Oscar gold in the past. Harris also has to play two sides of the coin as she makes a complete shift later in the film. While you could argue all day long who gave the best performance in this category, Harris impacts you the most. She’s a definite dark horse in this category.

Chances of Winning: Middle of the Pack

Is the Performance Worthy of an Oscar? Yes


Nicole Kidman (Lion)

Nicole Kidman is by far the best part of Lion. While that’s great for Kidman, it doesn’t speak well for the film itself. Her subplot should never be the best part of the movie.

Nevertheless, it’s a damn good performance. The problem is when you compare this to the rest of the field, it’s too been there/done that. It’s a fine performance, but we’ve seen this from Kidman before. She’s just along for the ride this year.

Chances of Winning: Low

Is the Performance Worthy of an Oscar? Yes


Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures)

Octavia Spencer commands the screen in Hidden Figures. While I enjoy her performance, I question whether this is really Oscar worthy. It very much reminds me of Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies) from last year (I’m still bitter he won). Spencer plays an extremely likable character you root like hell for, but does that really mean the performance is awards worthy? She has a couple memorable speeches where she fights back against Kirsten Dunst, but compared to the other choices in this category, it doesn’t stack up. This is more a knock on the script/direction, as Spencer does all she can with the material. Add in the fact she’s already won, and Spencer probably has the weakest odds of winning.

Chances of Winning: Low

Is the Performance Worthy of an Oscar? No


Michelle Williams (Manchester by the Sea)

If Michelle Williams was in one or two more scenes, she would probably win this award. While Naomie Harris is right there, Williams is Viola’s fiercest competition. This is a true quality over quantity performance. Whenever Williams is on screen, you’re fixated on everything she does. Out of all the nominees on this list, Williams delivers the all out best scene when passionately trying to make amends with Casey Affleck. It helps that the writing is off the charts, but it’s one of those moments that sticks with you long after the scene ends. This is why Williams could realistically pull off the upset. This is also her fourth nomination. That’s a lot.

Chances of Winning: High

Is the Performance Worthy of an Oscar? Yes

For my final predictions in all the major categories, check out our annual Oscar podcast right here!

Daniel Cohen is the hard-boiled Film Editor for the Pop Break. Besides reviews, Daniel writes box office predictions, Gotham reviews and Oscar coverage. He can also be found on the Breakcast. If Daniel was sprayed by Scarecrow’s fear toxin, it would be watching Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen on a non-stop loop.