Viola Davis going head to head with Streep in Oscar race

theGRIO REPORT - Awards seasons is finally here, and 'The Help' star Viola Davis will be going head to head with Meryl Streep in the race for the coveted Oscar award for best actress...

Luther Vandross was outed as gay after his death.

Awards season is finally here, and Viola Davis has received a Screen Actors Guild and Golden Globe Award nomination in the category of leading actress for her role in The Help. Davis will likely be going head to head with acting veteran Meryl Streep in the race for the coveted Oscar award for best actress.

The Help is one of the most popular films of the year. It maintained the number 1 spot at the box office for several weeks and according to Box Office Mojo raked in over $169 million in domestic ticket sales.

The film adaptation of Kathryn Stockett’s novel received considerable praise from film critics, but also received its fair share of backlash from the black community because of racial issues it addressed.

Check out this Grio slideshow: Most memorable African-American Oscar moments

Regardless of the controversial backstory of the film, most film-goers agree that Davis and her co-star Octavia Spencer (who also received a SAG and Golden Globe Award nomination for her supporting role) gave outstanding performances.

The SAG nominations were the first of many award honors building up to the Feb. 26 Academy Awards, and some film critics are placing their bets on Davis to take home the big prize.

Davis’s closest competition this awards season are Meryl Streep for her role as British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady, and Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe in My Week With Marilyn.

Both Streep and Williams films have received more mediocre reviews, but their performances are said to be memorable.

This is not the first time Streep and Davis have been touted as award nominees during the same year.

In 2008, Davis emerged as the breakout sensation during awards season, for her role starring opposite Streep in the drama Doubt.

Though her scene in the film, where she played a protective mother, lasted for less than 15 minutes, the actress received an Oscar nomination for supporting actress.

On her experience working with Streep, Davis said “There is nothing about this woman that projects anything diva-esque. She comes to the set kind and normal and humorous and giving. I kept staring at her thinking that something is going to kick in. But nothing, not a lick. She’s the most normal, unassuming woman. In between takes, we’re laughing, talking about politics, exchanging recipes. That’s Meryl Streep.”

While accepting her 2008 SAG Award for best actress, Steep called Davis “gigantically gifted.” And during the National Board of Review awards dinner, she said that Davis is “a lioness. She’s like a tower of power.”

Three years later, Davis is proving that she is indeed a ‘tower of power,’ and is now facing off against her former co-star.

The Iron Lady herself has won two Oscars in the past for Kramer vs. Kramer and Sophie’s Choice. But has since produced a body of work which has received Oscar nominations but no wins including, The Bridges of Madison County, Adaptation, The Devil Wears Prada, Doubt, and Julia & Julia.

The Academy Awards has a history of rewarding overlooked actors after years of neglect. And this year, many believe Streep should win her long overdue Oscar because she has become a sentimental favorite.

Entertainment Weekly Jeff Laberque says” We’ve reached the point in her brilliant career where when someone now says, “Meryl Streep has two Oscars,” the only reasonable immediate response is, “Only two?” She deserves more. (I mean, Hilary Swank has two Oscars.) This is her year, an opportunity to celebrate an amazing performer. It’s her turn. Again.”

If Davis is indeed nominated for Oscar for best actress, this will only be her second Academy Award nomination and her first nomination for best actress.

If the Academy is in the business of rewarding talents that have long been overlooked with receiving their due credit, then Davis might want to begin preparing her acceptance speech.

There have been a relatively small number African-American actors who have taken home Hollywood’s highest honor, and Halle Berry stands alone as the only woman to take home the award for best actress.

With a SAG and Golden Globe nomination under her belt, Davis has the chance to get her first Oscar nomination for best actress and possibly be the second African American woman to win the prestigious award.

The SAG awards will be presented on Jan 29 and Golden Globe Awards will be held on Jan 15.

The nominations are among the first major honors on the long road to the Feb. 26 Academy Awards.