Oscar Watch: Viola Davis

Viola Davis has one scene in Doubt, but it’s the most memorable scene of the movie, which is based on John Patrick Shanley’s play (he also directed.) A little-known but respected actress who primarily works in theatre, she more than holds her own up against the Great One, Meryl Streep.

Davis plays Mrs. Miller, the mother of the only African American child in the Catholic school and she’s been summoned to the school by Streep’s evil nun, Sister Aloysius, because the Sister suspects that the school’s priest (Father Flynn, played by Philip Seymour Hoffman) may be having an inappropriate relationship with Miller’s son.

Aloysius has no proof, but the mother, torn between sending her son (who is gay) back to public school where she says the kids would kill him, or possibly looking the other way, pleads with the Sister, “It’s just till June.” If he can graduate from the Catholic school, she reasons, he’ll get into a better high school and even college. For Mrs. Miller, everything hinges on the success of her son in the school–which has been possible because of Father Flynn’s caring, protective relationship with him.

“What kind of mother are you?” hisses Streep. Davis replies, with conflicting emotions–she’s steadfast and unsure at the same time.

“Everybody has his reasons. Do I ask the man why he is good to my son? My son needs some man to care for him.”

Besides, it’s just till June.