Denzel Washington and Viola Davis on Oscar Night?

Feb. 2, 2017
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fences

The La La Land juggernaut will be hard to stop between now and Oscar night, but here’s hoping the Academy will recognize a pair of outstanding performances in Fences.

Denzel Washington directs and stars in this film, adapted by August Wilson from his Tony and Pulitzer-winning play. Fences’ origins on stage are apparent, much of it consists of conversations, and yet this evocation of sweat-soiled blue-collar life in the 1950s (as lived out in a black neighborhood of gritty Pittsburg) is best appreciated on a big screen. The cinematography provides a rich and absorbing setting, drawing the audience into a world where jobs and community persisted in the face of poverty and racial discrimination.

The dialogue races between players at full court press. Washington is top of the game as Troy, who works on the back of a garbage truck. His voice is musical, his gestures electric. Troy is bitter at the opportunities he never had because of his skin color, and suspicious of all the fine talk about changes coming.

Viola Davis, nominated for Best Supporting Actress, plays his wife Rose Lee. Her dirty looks can kill, but she is the family’s anchor and bares her burdens with grace. Fences is also nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay. For the richness of its language alone, it deserves to win. Will Fences take all three Oscars on Academy Awards night?

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