Just eight months after Will Smith took the Oscars stage and punched comedian Chris Rock in the face, receiving a 10-year ban from the ceremony as a result, the actor is back in a major film.
Too early? Most likely. But the 54-year-old is very good at film, and maybe even – buckle up – an Oscar nominee.
Duration: 132 minutes. Rated R (strong racial violence, disturbing images and language). In theaters December 2. On AppleTV+ December 9.
“Emancipation,” which is an otherwise well-rehearsed period drama about the horrors of slavery, further showcases Smith’s rich emotionality and laser-focused intensity that he discovered late in his career and which won him the Oscar for last year’s “King Richard”. ”
Now, Smith’s quick return — in a movie from Apple TV+, the same company that gave us Best Picture winner ‘CODA,’ which was already in the pre-slap box — could prove a deal breaker. head for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. His performance is strong enough to earn him a Best Actor nomination, if not a win over frontrunner Brendan Fraser for festival favorite “The Whale.”
With a believable, calm Haitian accent, he plays “Whipped Peter,” the subject of the famous 1863 photograph of an abused former slave who helped enlighten the world about the inhuman evils of slavery.
Forcibly separated from his wife (Charmaine Bingwa) and children in Louisiana, Peter and three other captive men flee from an oppressive labor camp in Baton Rouge to try to join the Union Army of Abraham Lincoln – and claim their freedom after learning of the Emancipation Proclamation.
“Lincoln freed the slaves,” they whisper – and start plotting.
The men traverse treacherous swamps, pursued by their former owner, Fassel (James Bond’s overly villainous Ben Foster), his henchmen, and vicious hunting dogs as they try to survive the natural hazards in their surroundings. Peter fights with an alligator. (Hey – Leo DiCaprio won the Oscar for fighting a bear!)
Director Antoine Fuqua underscores the angst of Peter’s story with plenty of gruesome imagery – a man is scarred, there are severed heads of slaves on spikes and we see a mass grave covered in flies, among d ‘other sites that turn the stomach. It’s hard to take, but it’s the right way to honor Peter’s horrible photo. The film’s color palette is also not entirely black and white, but washed out like a faded image.
What bothers Fuqua is a resume stuffed with action thrillers. At times, the film’s tone and attitude leans more toward “Equalizer 2” and less toward “12 Years a Slave.” Marcelo Zarvos’ relentless score, before it finds cinematic sweep in a later Civil War battle, suggests a modern revenge film featuring cool cars and sunglasses. Of course, Fuqua’s 2001 crime thriller “Training Day” didn’t receive the Oscar for Best Picture, Best Director, or Best Screenplay, but Denzel Washington nevertheless won Best Actor for his performance.
Don’t be surprised if Smith lands, at least, a Golden Globe nomination for “Emancipation.”
The scandal-ridden Hollywood Foreign Press Association is making a comeback on its own after an embarrassing diversity scandal led NBC to cancel the 2022 broadcast. #SoWhite: Fraser (“The Whale”), Colin Farrell (“The Banshees of Inisherin”), Austin Butler (“Elvis”), Bill Nighy (“Living”) and Hugh Jackman (“The Son”) lead the pack. At the Globes, Butler will likely be on the shortlist for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy, as will Farrell. An earlier collaboration between Farrell and director Martin McDonagh, “In Bruges,” was deemed a comedy by the HFPA. That leaves multiple openings for Smith — and an opportunity for the HFPA to raise the sagging ratings of its struggling ceremony.
Smith is clearly not hiding from the spotlight anymore, either. Last week, he did an apology interview with Trevor Noah on ‘The Daily Show,’ and spoke with Fox 5 DC about the repercussions of the controversy, saying he’ll “completely understand” if viewers aren’t ready. to see “Emancipation” because of the slap.
At this time, if Smith is nominated, he will not be allowed to attend the Oscars. The Globes and SAG Awards are fair game. However, who thought eight months ago that he would even be in the running for an Oscar? In Hollywood, anything can happen.
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Will Smith Could Shockingly Get An Oscar Nomination For ‘Emancipation’ – Nifey