Viola Davis, the 5 best performances of an Oscar actress

Dozens of memorable performances and an Oscar already under her belt, Viola Davis, awarded the Women in Motion Award at Cannes 2022, is the African-American actress with the most nominations in the history of the Academy Awards.

Official synopsis of The Woman King

Official synopsis of The Woman King

The Woman King is the extraordinary story of the Agojie, a group of all-female warriors who protected the African kingdom of Dahomey in the 19th century with a skill and ferocity never seen in the world. Inspired by true events, The Woman King follows the epic and emotional journey of General Nanisca (Oscar®-winning Viola Davis) as he trains the next generation of recruits and prepares them for battle against an enemy determined to destroy their way of life. Some things are worth fighting for…

A talent without borders

He made his debut by winning a Tony Award in 2001 for his role in August Wilson’s King Hedley II. Small but memorable film and TV roles followed, before her breakthrough role as an anxious mother in her The doubt (2008), for which she was nominated for an Oscar. Since then her run has not stopped: she was the first black woman to take home the Emmy for lead actress in a drama series The rules of the perfect crime (from 2014 to 2020) and then won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in the big screen adaptation of Barriers (2016), by Denzel Washington.

So here are 5 movies and/or TV series to review and appreciate her infinite talent, waiting to see her again since December 1st at the cinema with The Woman King.

5) Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Netflix)

But Rainey's Black Bottom
Photo credits: Netflix

Charisma in motion, that’s how we like to describe Viola Davis’ performance in the Netflix movie But Rainey’s Black Bottom. His interpretation of the blues legend after whom the film takes its title, taken from the August Wilson stage play of the same name, makes it a must-see.

4) Windows

Widows - Criminal Legacy: the review of the thriller with Viola Davis
Photo Credits: 20th Century Studios

This time Viola Davis doesn’t find herself in a costume drama, polite and submissive, but takes up arms – in the literal sense – to defend what is hers. More or less: when her beloved husband (a criminal) dies, she has to settle his accounts and to do so she pulls off the coup she was organizing. An all-female cast for a strong film with an action aftertaste.

3) Barriers

viola davis barriers universal pictures
Photo credits: Universal Pictures

In his third directorial effort, Denzel Washington adapts a play by August Wilson (who also wrote the screenplay) which won the Pulitzer Prize and which he has already performed in the theatre. Barriersthe story of an African-American family in the era of civil and political strife of the late 50s / early 60s, is a vehicle for the talent of the two leading actors first of all, but also a fresco that starts from History to tell a story. The performance earned Viola David the Oscar.

2) The Help

The Help |  Tonight on Rai Movie the film with Emma Stone and Viola Davis as protagonists
Photo credits: Walt Disney Pictures

The story is one that crumbles the heart into a thousand pieces, as is Davis’ unparalleled performance. Film adaptation of Kathryn Stockett’s novel of the same name, The Help tells the systemic racism of the society of the Sixties. Emma Stone is a budding journalist who answers the mail of readers of a newspaper and realizes how abused servants. However, since the education of the offspring of middle-class Caucasian families is often entrusted to the maids, she begins to interview them to better understand. Thus she forges a collaborative relationship first and a friendship later with Aibileen (Viola Davis), who works at her best friend’s house. From her story emerge vivid and dramatic details on the condition of black women and the character of Emma Stone does everything to unmask the respectability and hypocritical rhetoric of society. MASTERPIECE.

1) The rules of the perfect crime

Photo Credits: ABC – Shondaland

In first place could only be her, the overwhelming Annalize Keating de The rules of the perfect crime. Witty, unscrupulous and even Machiavellian, the protagonist of Shonda Rhimes’ TV series played by a vibrant Viola Davis lives her private life and career on a roller coaster, between lies, half-truths and various concealments (yes, even with corpses!). It is not surprising that the pupils follow her example in all respects. Trapped in an unhappy marriage and keeper of uncomfortable secrets, she puts together a group of elite students who shape her image and likeness to her. A TV series that she has been able to keep its value high for all its seasons, giving us unforgettable tears in her series finale a few years ago.

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About David Martin

David Martin is the lead editor for Spark Chronicles. David has been working as a freelance journalist.

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