Another key piece in the 2016 Oscar puzzle came into sharper focus this weekend as Fences had its first industry screening. Based on the acclaimed August Wilson play (he also penned the script) for which Denzel Washington and Viola Davis won Tony Awards, Mr. Washington directs and stars in the adaptation.
It’s not out until Christmas and reviews are embargoed for another few weeks, but initial reaction out yesterday indicates this will be a major player in the awards derby. This holds true especially for Denzel in the lead Actor race and Davis in Supporting Actress. For months, it was thought that Davis would compete in the lead Actress field. However, a couple weeks back, that designation was shifted. The reasoning could have to do with the significant competiveness of Actress where Annette Bening (20th Century Women), Natalie Portman (Jackie), and Emma Stone (La La Land) are assured nominees who should battle it out for the gold. Supporting Actress appears less packed and Davis looks to be the current front runner. Same goes for Denzel in the Actor race, which would give him his third golden statue.
The early buzz also bodes well for Fences getting Picture, Director and Adapted Screenplay nods. Yet not everything is totally clear cut. There are three performances that could compete in Supporting Actor: Jovan Adepo, Stephen Henderson, and Mykelti Williamson (yes, Bubba from Forrest Gump). In my weekly Oscar predictions posts, I’ve given Henderson the edge. Last night may have changed my thinking as both Williamson and Adepo have garnered seemingly greater chatter. There’s the possibility of two of these gentlemen getting in or just one or perhaps the trio canceling each other out (less likely).
One thing is for sure: Fences has been on the radar of Academy Awards predictors for quite some time and this weekend only increased the visibility.