Without a doubt, one of the best performances in film last year was the amazing turn Michelle Williams had as Mitzi in The Fabelmans. Williams, a four-time Oscar nominee, is clearly one of the best of her generation and shows it in the new Spielberg film as she plays the mother of a young filmmaker. We see her love of art and freedom and watch as she channels that into her son. And one of the best scenes of the year comes when one of her son’s movies shows her something about herself she didn’t even realize.
And so it’s a shame that Universal is campaigning her as a Lead Actress role. Here are the four reasons why.
The role is a supporting performance
The most confusing reason for Universal campaigning Williams as a lead performance is that it isn’t a lead. She is turning in a supporting performance and an amazing one. Want to know how you know it’s a supporting performance? Ask anyone who has seen The Fabelmans to describe it, and every single person will tell you, “It’s about a boy…”
The story belongs to Sammy, the young filmmaker who is the protagonist of the movie. It’s his movie. All his. There are other characters, and they rule. But they, like Williams, are supporting the one character who we see the entire movie through.
Michelle Williams cannot win for Best Actress
Right now, the Best Actress category is a two horse race between Cate Blanchett (Tár) and Michelle Yeoh (Everything Everywhere All At Once). Look, Oscars night is still a long way away and anything can happen between now and then. But I find it near-impossible to believe that anything is going to happen to change the fact that one of these two women will be holding the Oscar at the end of the evening.
So, not only is Universal putting Williams in a category she doesn’t belong in, they’re basically guaranteeing that she will not win an Oscar for one of the best performances of her career. Which is a shame because…
Michelle Williams would almost definitely win Best Supporting Actress
The Best Supporting Actress category is much more wide open then its leading counterpart. You know how it would be less open? If Michelle fucking Williams were nominated in the correct category. No offense to some of the potential nominees (Angela Bassett, Kerry Condon, Jamie Lee Curtis), but if Williams was in this category, she would be the clear front-runner. Again, this is one of the best performances she has ever given in a very impressive career, and it makes it all the more frustrating that she won’t win because of bad category placement.
A well-deserved nominee will be missing out
So, with Williams, Yeoh and Blanchett pure locks, that leaves only two spots left for nominees. I think one of them is going to Danielle Deadwyler for Till. So this means someone is going to miss out. Maybe Viola Davis or Margot Robbie or Anya Taylor-Joy or Aubrey Plaza, all of whom deserve it.
And, thanks to Universal’s cluster-fuck, one or more of them will be sitting on the sidelines come Oscars night.