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Will Smith

Is Will Smith Permitted to Be Nominated for an Oscar for “Emancipation” After the Slap?

Outside of Smith’s involvement, Antoine Fuqua’s “strong” drama is rumoured to be a candidate with a 2022 release date confirmed by Apple.


Can Will Smith win his second Oscar despite the uproar surrounding the “slap heard ’round the world”?


That’s the question facing Apple after it announced that it will release “Emancipation,” a drama about an escaped slave that it paid Smith $35 million to star in and produce. The streamer is making the assumption that the uproar over Smith’s attack on Chris Rock at the Oscars has subsided, especially in light of Smith’s clumsy apologetic video.


Smith won’t be able to accept his award in person, even if he becomes the first actor since Tom Hanks to win back-to-back Oscars for best actor. He won’t be able to take it by satellite, either. That’s because in April, facing almost certain expulsion, Smith decided to resign from membership of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences. The decision of the Academy Board of Governors to bar him from participating in 10 years of Academy-sponsored activities and the Oscars telecast immediately followed that.


Smith can still be nominated for and win another Oscar while being unable to accept it during the broadcast.


It’s unclear how aggressively Smith will run for the award or if Apple will even support him in the competitive best actor field, which also includes Hugh Jackman (“The Son”), Colin Farrell (“The Banshees of Inisherin”), Brendan Fraser (“The Whale”), Austin Butler (“Elvis”), and Colin Farrell (“The Whale”), none of whom slapped a beloved stand-up during a major television event. However, Smith won’t be able to push the flesh at any gatherings of Academy members if he wishes to do so. He will have to limit himself to functions organised by organisations like SAG and the Golden Globes.


If Smith’s performance was able to overcome his apparent “blacklisting” in the public eye, the Actors Branch of the Academy, which consists of around 1,400 professional actors in Hollywood and nearby areas, may choose to nominate him when voting takes place from January 12 to January 17. On January 24, the formal nominations will be revealed.


Smith portrays Peter in the movie, which is based on the notorious “Whipped Peter,” a runaway slave whose photograph of his scourged back became one of the most widely shared images of the abolitionist cause during the American Civil War.


Smith is eligible for nomination in a number of other categories, too.


The approximately 9,600 qualified members of the Academy are divided into 18 branches. Each votes in the best picture category in addition to casting a ballot in their area of expertise, using 10 of the spaces on their ballots to select their top movies of the year.


Smith is one of the producers of “Emancipation,” along with Jon Mone (with his first full producer credit, no less), Todd Black (“Fences”), and Joey McFarland (“The Wolf of Wall Street”), who have previously been nominated for the Academy Award for best picture (noteworthy: the Academy makes all final determinations on eligible producing nominees).


Smith made history last year by earning nominations in both the best actor and best picture categories for “King Richard.” He is the second Black man to do so (after Denzel Washington for “Fences”) and the first to produce himself in an acting victory.


In conjunction with organisations from the Congressional Black Caucus, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, Power Rising, and #WinWithBlackWomen, “Emancipation” screened over the weekend in Washington, D.C. as part of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Legislative Conference. At the occasion, both Smith and Fuqua spoke in person.


Attendees initially responded favourably, with Donna Brazile, the former chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, tweeting that the image “highlights how Black ppl [people] battled for the freedom in a dramatic way.”


It was described as “a compelling & gut-wrenching picture of the atrocities of slavery” by Tonya J. Williams, director of strategic communications for Emily’s List. Will Smith, who portrayed Peter to perfection, gave a speech in which he used Peter’s life as an illustration of how he (and we) hold space in this world.


Additionally, it was described as “a profound story not only based in our past but also our resiliency as a people” by Angela Rye, partner and CEO of IMPACT Strategies.


Apple’s choice to make “Emancipation” available was clear. As of right now, Cooper Raiff’s “Cha Cha Real Smooth,” written, directed, and starring in it, is the current best picture winner, defeating “CODA” from last year. With Jennifer Lawrence in “Causeway,” Ewan McGregor in “Raymond & Ray,” and Zac Efron in “The Greatest Beer Run Ever,” Toronto didn’t much improve its other titles. Next year, the streamer will juggle two masterpieces of cinema: Ridley Scott’s “Napoleon” and Martin Scorsese’s “Killers of the Flower Moon.” It would be absurd to introduce a flurry of slap-related inquiries into the discussion.


The most recent predictions can be seen at Variety’s Oscars Hub.


It should be noted, nevertheless, that “Emancipation” is not solely owned by Smith. Director Antoine Fuqua, who has been revered and highly respected for more than 25 years, is in charge. Denzel Washington received his long overdue lead actor trophy for “Training Day” from the same person who gave him the vehicle (2001). Shouldn’t that happen if the positive hype around the movie turns out to be accurate and we’ve reached our “Fuqua moment,” when only six Black directors have ever received nominations over the course of 94 years?


Will Apple be able to weather the “Emancipation” storm for all the involved creatives? Are Oscar voters and consumers prepared to get past the slap? The award season will reveal.



Chase McAllister

Chase McAllister is a Journalist at Flaunt Weekly.

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