Viola Davis, Fences. Reprising the role she played on Broadway opposite Denzel Washington, Viola Davis is a quiet storm of determination, anger and devotion as Rose, the wife of the hard-headed, short-tempered Troy (played again by Denzel Washington, who directed the film from a script by playwright August Wilson). “August Wilson wrote the screenplay more than two decades ago and it lends itself to the cinematic experience because really at the heart of the story it's just about a family and we've seen these epic stories before”, Davis told us. “I think that there's a universality to it even though it's an African-American family, it's all families. I think we have to stop thinking that the African-American experience is not inclusive, that Troy's relationship to Cory, my relationship to Troy, I think it's something that everyone can relate to.” This is Viola Davis’ fifth nomination.
Naomie Harris, Moonlight. “On Moonlight it was heavy on set because I only had the three days to shoot that role so because it was so intense I just kind of had to stay in the skin of Paula as much as I possibly could to get through”, Naomie Harris told us, describing the experience of creating a key character in writer-director Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight: Paula, a drug addict and reluctant mother to Chiron, the film’s protagonist. The daughter of a strong and successful woman, Harris admits she had “reservations about playing a crack addict”, a bravura performance that earned her this nomination. “I do think actually that Paula ultimately is a progressive image”, she adds. “Because she does find redemption with her son.” This is Naomie Harris' first nomination. (Naomie Harris también en español.)
Nicole Kidman, Lion. A boy from a remote village finds himself, by accident, alone and lost in the streets of Calcutta – and, from there, in a comfortable home in Tasmania, adopted by loving Australian parents. In Lion, the cinematic version of this real life story, Nicole Kidman plays Sue Brierley, the boy’s devoted adoptive mother – and her first Australian character in a long while. "Sue is like so many of my mom’s friends, and so it was my way of connecting back to my country”, she told us. “I wanted to make it for (my children), because I think the message (of the film) is unconditional love.” This is Nicole’s 11th nomination. She won twice in the Best Actress-Comedy or Musical category – in 1996 for To Die For, in 2002 for Moulin Rouge!- and once as Best Actress-Drama, in 2003 for The Hours. (Nicole Kidman también en español.)
Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures. In director Theodore Melfi’s Hidden Figures Octavia Spencer plays mathematician Dorothy Vaughn, one of the real-life pioneers of space exploration, a team of women (including a contingent of African Americans) who worked at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics – the precursor of NASA- in the early 1960s, crunching the numbers that put Americans among the stars while dealing with racism and bigotry. Playing Dorothy, Spencer told us, led her to be “extremely, extremely grateful to have been born in this time because there were so many women like Dorothy Vaughn who paved the way for me. I feel very lucky that my mom taught me that I can do or be anything that I dared to dream.” This is Octavia’s second nomination. In 2012 she was nominated and won in this category for her work in The Help. (Octavia Spencer también en español.)
Michelle Williams, Manchester By The Sea. As Randi, a young woman rebuilding her life after a devastating loss, Michelle Williams delivers a quietly powerful performance that adds a whole other dimension to Kenneth Lonergan’s Manchester By The Sea. “When you love someone so much right next to that thought is what would I do if I lost (that person), Williams stold us. “You try to not let yourself rest in that place and in this movie I had to let myself rest in that place . I spent a lot of time preparing for this but the thing I didn't have to prepare was what would I think or what would I feel if that were to happen in my life. Because that fear already exists and it's so powerful that you don't have to reach for it.” This is Michelle Williams’ fourth nomination. In 2012 she won in the Best Actress- Musical or Comedy category for My Week With Marilyn. (Michelle Williams también en español.)