thoughts//THE CASE FOR 'FENCES'

AWARDS COVERAGE



From the moment the film was announced, especially after it was made clear that Denzel Washington would both star in and direct, Fences was destined for awards season greatness.

Based on the August Wilson classic stage play of the same name, the film was given even more of a boost when it was announced Viola Davis would reprise her Tony Award-winning role in the film version.

With anticipation at an all-time high, the trailer's release was an event in and of itself, with many people flocking to Washington's so-so The Magnificent Seven just to see the Fences trailer.

Davis was already at the top of most prognosticators' lists in the Best Actress category when it was announced that she would instead be campaigned in the Supporting Actress category. With La La Land's buzz already beginning to build, it was understood that an almost guaranteed win by Emma Stone would nudge Davis into losing for the third time. With her now in the Supporting category, a win would be expected.

Since then, Davis has powered through awards season as the seminal favorite, while the film has basically settled for nominations and the occasional Top Ten mention.

Stilted, due to the fact that the film sticks to the play, without exploring cinematic tropes that could set it apart, Fences still earned a decent Christmas weekend box office and propelled both Washington and Davis onto the big precursors.

When Washington beat season frontrunner Casey Affleck at the SAG Awards, his chances at a Best Actor Oscar looked even brighter.

The film is nominated for 4 Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

Let's analyze its chances. Watch the 89th Academy Awards this Sunday to see how well it does!

BEST PICTURE

Should It Win:
The Broadway revival starring Washington and Davis in the same roles as in the film was a huge success, earning major accolades. That same energy and devotion to Wilson's script are at play in the film, but the depth of the cinematic art is missing. The scope of bringing such a well-regarded play to life is brave, which may lead to how the film ended up among the Best Picture nominees. It's nomination will have to suffice. There are much better films in the crop this year.

Will It Win:
It probably has the longest chance at winning of all of the films nominated. Luckily, Davis is a surefire win, so the film isn't going home empty-handed.

BEST ACTOR

Should Denzel Washington Win:
There's no denying that Washington's performance as a broken husband and father is powerful and full of earnest rage and heart. He gives life to Troy that elevates him from the pages of the play and makes you hate every inch of his being.

So, based on that alone, Washington turns in one heck of a performance. But, in terms of Oscar, it doesn't feel like anything new or exciting. Add that to the fact that he played this role over and over again on stage, so it was nothing new to him, either. It's a great performance, but not the year's best.

Will Denzel Washington Win:
Up until the SAG Awards, the answer would have been an easy no. Casey Affleck has all-but dominated the awards season for his performance in Manchester by the Sea.

But, with Washington's win, comes speculation that he could walk away with another Oscar this Sunday, setting history as the most-awarded black actor ever.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Should Viola Davis Win:
Much like Washington, Davis is very clear of her character's ebbs and flows. But, even with that identity firmly in her grasp, Davis manages to break your heart with every tear drop and snot stream of each emotional scene.

It helps that her Rose gets some of the meatiest moments of the entire play/film. Davis is a consummate performer that definitely deserves recognition, especially here.

Will Viola Davis Win:
Maybe the only category with a definite winner, Supporting Actress has been Davis's since the moment it was announced she'd be campaigning here. The only performer coming close to possibly grabbing the trophy from her is Michelle Williams, but at this point, that seems like a long shot.

BEST ADA[TED SCREENPLAY

Should It Win:
It is remarkable that the screenplay was adapted by the Wilson before he passed away. That alone helps to elevate the passion put behind the film by Washington and his team.

But, in terms of a screenplay, Fences is lacking. Again, what Fences truly needed were more cinematic risks. If there had been, then an adapted screenplay win would make sense. But, with the script basically being a reiteration of the play, there's not much to be impressed by, in terms of adapting.

Will It Win:
Adoration for Wilson could give the film a boost, but awards season juggernaut (not named La La Land), Moonlight, is also competing here. There are other great screenplays present, too, which will make this very, very difficult for Fences to make the cut. 

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