the Popcorn Reel Awards Season 2009
best picture best director best actor best supporting actor best actress

best supporting actress  
guaranteed nominee and winner

by Omar P.L. Moore/The Popcorn Reel
December 9, 2008

Viola Davis as Mrs. Miller in "Doubt", written and directed by John Patrick Shanley and based on his Pulitzer-Prize-winning Broadway play.  Ms. Davis is excellent in her role.  "Doubt" opens on December 12 in the U.S. and Canada.  (Photo: Miramax Films)

VIOLA DAVIS as Mrs. Miller

Sometimes it is a quite fire that ignites within.  On other occasions it is an unquenchable optimism.  A brief flicker of recognition or indignation. 

A supporting acting performance adds a lift to a film and rounds out perspective in many instances, and Viola Davis provides a little of every one of these variables as Mrs. Miller, in "Doubt", written and directed by John Patrick Shanley based on his own Pulitzer Prize-winning play.  She plays the mother of a young boy at St. Nicholas Catholic School in New York City in 1964, a boy who may have been inappropriately supervised by the school's priest (played by Philip Seymour Hoffman).  Ms. Davis represents an amazing balance in her character and the scene in which she responds to Sister Aloysius (Meryl Streep) is profound.  There's no question that Ms. Davis, who has had small supporting roles in a number of films ("Solaris", "Traffic", "Far From Heaven" and "Antwone Fisher") and most recently seen earlier this year in "Nights In Rodanthe", will garner her first Oscar nomination.

If Kate Winslet is in the supporting actress category it could be a challenge, but Ms. Davis' performance is the kind that the Academy nominates with relish and very often rewards.  Many supporting performances that win are short.  Some are longer.  In any event, Ms. Davis is sensational in "Doubt", and her character in one scene, one speech, crystallizes the entire film on a platter. 

Viola Davis will be nominated in the supporting actress category for Oscar next month, and although I have previously said that Ms. Winslet is a guaranteed winner in either lead or supporting acting come next year, Ms. Davis is odds-on to take home an Oscar for this resolute, beautiful and unblinking performance.  She combines courage, fear and confidence in the role and it is a marvel to see. 

"Doubt" opens in the U.S. and Canada on December 12, and a review of the film will appear here at The Popcorn Reel then.

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