Will Smith is now the Oscar front-runner for Best Actor for his biographical role in “King Richard” as Richard Williams, father of tennis phenoms Venus Williams and Serena Williams. That’s according to the combined predictions of Gold Derby users who have been making and updating their predictions here in our predictions center. Do you agree with our current forecasts?
When we opened our predictions center, Denzel Washington was the initial favorite for playing a very different kind of king: the title character in “The Tragedy of Macbeth.” That film has yet to screen for critics and audiences, but it’s directed by four-time Oscar winner Joel Coen (“Fargo,” “No Country for Old Men”) and co-stars four-time Oscar winner Frances McDormand (“Fargo,” “Nomadland“). You can’t ask for a stronger awards pedigree than that.
But “King Richard” just premiered at the Telluride Film Festival to reviews that call Smith’s performance “outstanding” and “impressive,” “a sterling reminder of Smith’s singular charge.” What’s more, Smith is a two-time Oscar nominee (for “Ali” and “The Pursuit of Happyness”) but hasn’t won yet. And the combination of his successful comedic, dramatic, and blockbuster action roles might make the academy feel he’s finally due for the honor, kind of like how they celebrated Sandra Bullock for another sports movie, “The Blind Side.”
As of this writing 10 of the Expert journalists we’ve surveyed say Smith will prevail: Clayton Davis (Variety), Erik Davis (Fandango), Shawn Edwards (WDAF-TV Fox), Christopher Rosen (Gold Derby), Keith Simanton (IMDb), Sasha Stone (Awards Daily), Jazz Tangcay (Variety), Anne Thompson (IndieWire), Peter Travers (ABC), and Susan Wloszczyna (Gold Derby). Compare that to five Experts backing Washington, two for Benedict Cumberbatch (“The Power of the Dog”), and one for Bradley Cooper (“Nightmare Alley”). But the pendulum could swing right back the other way when “Macbeth” sees the light of day.
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