Michelle Williams in ‘The Fabelmans’ campaign for Leading Actress Oscar

Not all races are what they seem, and the same goes for the first class decision of the season. Variety confirmed that Michelle Williams’ work as a pianist mother in Steven Spielberg’s ‘The Fabelmans’ will campaign for the Best Actress Oscars, instead of supporting as many pundits had speculated.

The film, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, won the prestigious People’s Choice Award and became an undisputed favorite at the start of awards season. One of the cast’s highlights was Williams’ turn as Mitzi Fabelman, an arts lover who inspires her filmmaker son Sammy (played by newcomer Gabrielle LaBelle).

The acclaim for Spielberg’s semi-autobiographical childhood story was palpable in Toronto, with many seeing Williams’ turn as a surefire ticket to his fifth career Oscar nomination, possibly even a very likely winner in the supporting actress. The field of supporting actresses is now wide open for all the cast of Sarah Polley’s “Women Talking,” like Jessie Buckley or Claire Foy.

Can Williams outperform the two presumed actress favorites, Michelle Yeoh of ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’ or Cate Blanchett of ‘Tar?’

Williams is a beloved actress in Hollywood. She is an Emmy winner for FX’s “Fosse/Verdon” in 2019, one of only five performers to have won all five TV awards (Golden Globes, SAG, TCA, SAG and Emmy). She was nominated for four Oscars – ‘Brokeback Mountain’ (2005) and ‘Manchester by the Sea’ (2016) in Supporting Actress and ‘Blue Valentine’ (2010) and ‘My Week with Marilyn’ (2011) in the main actress.

It remains to be seen whether Paul Dano, as Sammy’s father, will also campaign for attention. Co-star Judd Hirsch has received the lion’s share of the attention and could become the second oldest performer ever nominated in a supporting role at 87.

“The Fabelmans” will wrap up the AFI Film Festival and open in theaters November 11.

To see ranked predictions for each individual category, visit Variety Oscar Center.

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