Tonight HBO is airing Widows, Steven McQueen’s critically-acclaimed 2018 heist film, and reminding me that it’s a crime greater than the crimes depicted in this film that Viola Davis doesn’t have an Oscar for Best Actress.
Now if you’re about to hop into my mentions to tell me that, actually, Viola Davis already has an Oscar, please, do not. I know Davis already has an Oscar, for her performance as Rose Lee Maxson in Denzel Washington’s film adaptation of the August Wilson play, Fences. But, if you’ll recall, that Oscar was for Best Supporting Actress, not Best Actress, despite the fact that Davis was arguably the leading lady of the film.
There’s nothing wrong with winning an Oscar in the supporting category, of course, but it does tend to get less attention than the prestige that comes with taking home the Academy Award for Best Actress. Many speculated that the reason Davis chose to submit herself in the Supporting category rather than as lead at the 89th Academy Awards was because she knew such a move would give her a better chance of taking home the award. It’s no secret that Hollywood is biased against black actors, and especially black women. The year Fences was at the Oscar—2017—also happened to be the year after the #OscarsSoWhite controversy. So perhaps Davis did the right thing—she did end up taking home the Oscar, after all.
But that was two years ago, and it’s high time Davis get the Best Actress Oscar she deserves. In Widows, for example, she delivers an absolutely breathtaking performance as Veronica Rawlings, a teachers’ union worker who is married to a renowned thief (Liam Neeson). When her husband and many of his partners are killed, his enemies come to Veronica to collect on his debt. She decides to carry out a heist her husband planned before he died, and recruits her fellow widows—Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki, and Cynthia Erivo—to help.
Despite critical praise for Davis’s strong leading performance, the film was largely overlooked when awards season rolled around. (Davis was nominated for a BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role, however.) Seriously, what more does Viola Davis have to do? She’s already got her Emmy for How to Get Away with Murder, she’s already got her Tony for King Hedley II, and she was even nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress for The Help. (She lost to Meryl Streep in The Iron Lady. I love Meryl, but doesn’t she have enough awards?)
Viola Davis’s agent, if you’re reading this, please make this happen. I’m thinking a transformative role where the makeup does most of the work, but Davis kills it anyhow—the Academy eats that stuff up. This woman deserves her Oscar for Best Actress.
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