With all the major precursors and most regional critics groups lining up behind a single performance, this year's Best Supporting Actress Oscar seems to be pretty open-and-shut. But up to a point this season, that wasn't the case.
It wasn't until Viola Davis decided in October to campaign in this category as opposed to Best Actress for her leveling turn in Fences that the outcome became so cemented. Before then, she was considered one of several actresses on the bubble in an incredibly competitive lead acting race which saw Amy Adams and Annette Bening (among others) ultimately snubbed. While there are those who'd argue she would and should have won in that category, a valid argument can be made for the role as being a supporting one. Either way, she's looking good to claim the golden boy that we can only assume she just missed five years back for The Help. That loss stung, but that's what will make this one of the more satisfying wins on Oscar night.
As to who would have been in poll position had Viola gone lead... Tough to gauge.
The runner-up in terms of critics prizes has been Michelle Williams for her brief but heart-wrenching presence in Manchester by the Sea. She has one clip-ready scene that seems to have been the basis of her entire campaign, but I'm more impressed with her few low-key moments, and would have welcomed more of them in the film.
Or perhaps admiration for Moonlight would have compelled voters to bookend Mahershala Ali's impending Best Supporting Actor Oscar with a matching one for Naomie Harris' possessed portrayal of addiction. For a character whose arc spans so many years, emotions and mental states, it's crazy to think that she only had three days to shoot her scenes.
But such speculation is entirely trivial. It's Viola's Oscar moment, and about time.
Will win: Viola Davis, Fences
Could win (but not really): Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea
Should win: Naomie Harris, Moonlight
Should be nominated: Greta Gerwig, 20th Century Women