‘Emancipation’: Can Smith be nominated for an Oscar after being slapped?

Can Will Smith overcome the global slap controversy to win his second Oscar?

That’s the question Apple faces after it announced it will release Emancipation, a drama about an escaped slave that Smith paid $35 million to star and produce. The streamer bets that excitement over Smith’s attack on Chris Rock at the Oscars has subsided, particularly after Smith recorded an awkward apology video.

But even if Smith becomes the first actor since Tom Hanks to win back-to-back Best Actor Oscars, he won’t be able to collect his award in person. He won’t be able to accept it via satellite either. That’s because in April, faced with near-certain expulsion, Smith decided to relinquish his membership in the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences. Almost immediately following was the decision by the Academy Board of Governors to ban him from the Oscar television show and Academy-sponsored events for 10 years.

But despite not being able to accept his award on the show, Smith can still be nominated and even win another Oscar.

It’s unclear how aggressively Smith will compete for the award, or if Apple will even push him into the crowded Best Actor race, which also includes Brendan Fraser (“The Whale”), Austin Butler (“Elvis”), Colin Farrell Owned by Inisherin (“The Banshees”) and Hugh Jackman (“The Son”), neither of whom slapped a beloved stand-up during a global televised event. But if Smith decides to press the meat, he won’t be able to do so at any Academy members meeting. He has to get involved in events like SAG and the Golden Globes.

If Smith’s performance surpassed his publicly perceived “blacklist,” the Academy’s Actors Department, made up of some 1,400 former colleagues, acquaintances and Hollywood-based artists, can put him on their ballot for a nomination when the vote goes through 12-17 January. The official names will be announced on January 24th.

Will Smith in Emancipation (Apple Original Films)


In the film, Smith plays Peter, a character based on the infamous “Whipped Peter,” an escaped slave whose photograph of his back being whipped became one of the most widely circulated images of the abolitionist movement during the American Civil War.

But that’s not the only category Smith can be nominated for.

The academy has 18 branches, which make up the approximately 9,600 voting members. In addition to voting in their specific area of ​​expertise, everyone votes in the best picture category, with their ballots having 10 spaces available to list their favorite films of the year.

If “Emancipation” were to be nominated for the Academy’s top honor, Smith, who serves as one of the film’s producers, would be alongside Jon Mone (with his first full producer credit, no less) and former nominees Todd Black (“Fences”) ) , Joey McFarland (“The Wolf of Wall Street”) would be among the nominated producers (note: the Academy makes all final decisions on eligible producing nominees).

Smith, who received a double nomination for Best Actor and Best Picture for King Richard, made history last year as the second black man to be nominated in both categories (after Denzel Washington for Fences) and as the first black man to open himself Actors produced in a film win.

Emancipation was screened in Washington DC over the weekend as part of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Legislative Conference along with groups from the Congressional Black Caucus, Historically Black College and Universities, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, Power Rising and #WinWithBlackWomen. Both Smith and Fuqua spoke in person at the event.

Initial reactions from participants were positive, including Donna Brazile, former Chair of the Democratic National Committee, say in a tweet“Powerful image that highlights how black people [people] fought for freedom.”

Tonya J. Williams, Director of Strategic Communications at Emily’s List, called it “a powerful and heartbreaking portrayal of the horrors of slavery. Will Smith, who masterfully played the role of Peter, used Peter’s life as an example to talk about how he (and we) hold space in this world.”

In addition, Angela Rye, Director and CEO of IMPACT Strategies said, called it too “a strong story that is not rooted in our history, but also in our resilience as a people.”

For Apple, the decision to release “Emancipation” was obvious. By the looks of it, the reigning best picture champion of last year’s “CODA” (2021) has a well-liked, if quiet charmer, “Cha Cha Real Smooth” from writer-director-star Cooper Raiff. Toronto hasn’t significantly upped its other titles — Causeway, starring Jennifer Lawrence, Raymond & Ray, starring Ewan McGregor, and The Greatest Beer Run Ever, starring Zac Efron. Next year, the streamer will juggle two masters of filmmaking, Martin Scorsese with Killers of the Flower Moon and Ridley Scott with Napoleon. Throwing a barrage of slap-related questions into the fight would be ridiculous.

Read: the latest predictions, visit diversity is Oscars hub.

However, it should be noted that Smith is not the sole owner of Emancipation. An admired and deeply respected director for more than 25 years, Antoine Fuqua is at the helm. The same person who gave Denzel Washington the vehicle that brought him his long overdue leading man statuette for “Training Day” (2001). If the excitement about the quality of the film proves true and we’ve reached our “Fuqua moment” where only six black directors have been nominated in 94 years, shouldn’t that be allowed to happen?

Can Apple weather this “emancipation” storm for all creatives involved? Are Oscar voters and consumers ready to put the slap behind them? Awards season will tell.

https://variety.com/2022/awards/awards/emancipation-will-smith-oscars-nominated-slap-1235392796/ ‘Emancipation’: Can Smith be nominated for an Oscar after being slapped?

Charles Jones

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