Will Smith’s Concussion premiered at AFI Fest last night. It’s the true story of Dr Bennet Omalu’s work to identify Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, “scientific evidence that the kind of repeated blows to the head sustained in football could cause severe, debilitating brain damage”. The film is based on an article called Game Brain that was published in GQ in 2009 about Dr Omalu’s work and how the NFL tried to discredit him and, by association, the players suffering from CTE basically so that the league could save money on disability claims for their former players. Seriously. That’s some next level f-cking greed. It’s an engrossing and important read. And if you haven’t already and you can spare the time, click here to learn more about how athletes are paying with their lives to play football.
Early reviews for Concussion are that it’s not bad, not great. That at times it’s a little corny and formulaic but that for these reasons it should have commercial appeal. Anne Thompson writes that Concussion is “earnest” and “more mainstream commercial fare than awards fodder”. But haven’t we seen that “earnest” and “commercial” is actually a really strong combination for Oscar? The Academy loves earnest. See The Blind Side. The King’s Speech. Silver Linings Playbook. See the earnestly mendacious American Sniper. Earnest and commercial are not disqualifiers for Oscar. Especially not the way Will Smith is capable of campaigning.
Some are calling Will an outside contender for Best Actor in what’s looking like a crowded field including Matt Damon, Leonardo DiCaprio, Michael Fassbender, Tom Hanks, Johnny Depp, and Eddie Redmayne. Given how Steve Jobs underperformed, and how Fassbender may not want to get out there and work the circuit, Will could be a factor.
And that’s why he’s my pick. Will Smith, for all his popularity, has never been the Sexiest Man Alive. PEOPLE Magazine will announce the Sexiest Man Alive for 2016 next Tuesday. Every year I make a prediction. This year my prediction is Will Smith. He’s looooooong overdue. Like, how is it that Adam Levine has been the SMA and not Will Smith?!