Sarah wrote the other day after his win at the Critics Choice Awards that Will Smith seems unstoppable at this point, just a day before Oscar voting begins. Will has the SAG, the BAFTA, the Critics Choice, the Golden Globe, and last night he attended the National Board of Review gala to accept his Best Actor award that was previously announced in December. Is Oscar inevitable?
In addition to his performance in King Richard, he’s certainly making a case for it with his speeches. We’ve talked a lot in the past about how pre-Oscar acceptance speeches can make a difference with voters. Best example of this is Matthew McConaughey and Will, not surprisingly, is doing a great job. As I said last week after the Oscar Nominees Luncheon, where nominees are asked by the producers to make their speeches, should they win, short and entertaining, nobody is worried about Will Smith. The producers, who are responsible for putting on a good show, would prefer if Will wins… because you know for those two or more minutes, he knows how to deliver.
During his Critics Choice acceptance speech, he focused on Venus and Serena Williams and their family without, ahem, diminishing their accomplishments, and also Aunjanue Ellis (who was named NBR’s Best Supporting Actress) because his performance would not be possible without hers. He also hilariously insisted that the BEST ACTOR should be given more time on stage when he was being told to wrap up. You can see the video here.
Last night at NBR – and I’m sorry I can’t find video for this – Will’s charm was once again dialled up (or maybe it doesn’t operate on a spectrum and he’s always just “on”?) when he told the audience that Richard Williams’s “red shorts” helped him get into character (via USA Today) :
"When he put the clothes on, he was trying to play a role for the world. … He felt like he deserved a certain amount of respect," Smith explained. "That dream of a parent for his children. And we all have that thing in us: We have a dream and it seems crazy, the thing that you want to do."
And from there… he turned to Bradley Cooper:
"I look at Bradley Cooper," Smith said, motioning to the actor. "I've seen pictures of him when he was young. He didn't look like this! He grew into that! He let the dream blossom inside of him! I can't even concentrate, he's so beautiful."
This reminds of me Dave Chappelle’s SNL monologue in 2016, days after the US presidential election, and Dave was reminiscing about the Obama “Block Party” at the White House with all the Black excellence in that space… “and Bradley Cooper”, which became a running joke. Coop gets so many shout-outs! But the main point is this is what Will Smith can do on a stage with mic – hold the audience both at home and in person. It’s what he’ll do if he wins the Oscar.