New York Film Critics Circle winner Michelle Williams once seemed a sure shot to win for her powerful supporting role as a young wife in Kenneth Lonergan’s tragedy “Manchester by the Sea.” While she doesn’t have much screen time, she landed her fourth nomination for one pivotal heart-breaking scene in which she attempts a reconciliation with her ex-husband (Casey Affleck).
She might have stayed the frontrunner if Paramount hadn’t placed “Fences” Tony-winner Viola Davis in the Supporting Actress race instead of the more crowded Best Actress field. She kills it, and gives Williams serious competition. Both landed Critics Choice, Globe, SAG and BAFTA Award nominations, but Davis took home Critics Choice, Globe, SAG and BAFTA wins.
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Breaking out at the fall festivals was National Board of Review winner Naomie Harris as the crack addict mother in Barry Jenkins’ “Moonlight,” and Nicole Kidman as Dev Patel’s nurturing adoptive Australian mother in Garth Davis'”Lion.” Harris and Kidman both scored Critics Choice, Globe and SAG nods.
Emerging with an Best Ensemble win for “Hidden Figures” at the National Board of Review and SAG were Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monáe as NASA mathematicians; Spencer nabbed Globe and SAG nominations. The movie is surging at the box office ($145 million domestic so far). If she hadn’t already won Best Supporting Actress for “The Help” in 2011 (when Davis was a Best Actress nominee), Spencer would be giving her a run for the Oscar now.
Contenders (in order of likelihood to be nominated):
1. Viola Davis (“Fences”)
2. Octavia Spencer (“Hidden Figures”)
3. Michelle Williams (“Manchester By the Sea”)
4. Nicole Kidman (“Lion”)
5. Naomie Harris (“Moonlight”)