Will Smith’s Post-Slap Movie Has Been Seen And It’s Already Being Called Oscar-Worthy

Will Smith's new film Emancipation is already an Oscar frontrunner.

By Chad Langen | Published

Will Smith may be banned from attending the Oscars or returning to any other Academy events for the next 10 years following his behavior at the 94th Academy Awards this past March, where the actor smacked and screamed profanities at host Chris Rock, but that hasn’t stopped him from delivering Oscar-worthy performances. According to Deadline, Apple recently held its first screening of Emancipation, which is Smith’s first motion picture since his infamous Oscar slap. The showing was held during the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s 51st annual Legislative Conference in Washington D.C., and several people who were able to attend the screening took to Twitter to praise both the film and Smith’s performance.

One user, Sigmund Judge, took to the social media platform to say, “Please let this be a 2023 awards contender,” while another user, Derrick Johnson, tweeted, “Thank you Antoine Fuqua and Will Smith for sharing your gifts!” Donna Brazile shared the same sentiments stating, “Powerful picture highlighting how Black ppl fought for the freedom.” The general consensus seems to be that Will Smith has yet another award-worthy project under his belt.

will smith

Prior to the controversial incident involving Will Smith and Chris Rock at the Academy Awards, Emancipation was eyed as a major contender for awards season. Following that nasty slap, however, Apple, who won the rights to make the film in a record-breaking auction, reportedly shelved the project and pushed its release back to 2023. According to insider Jeff Sneider, the company has since shifted gears and now plans to release the movie this winter, just in time for the 2023 award season.

Emancipation stars Will Smith as Peter, a runaway slave who forges through the swamps of Louisiana on a tortuous journey to escape the plantation owners that nearly killed him. Starring alongside Smith are Ben Foster, Grant Harvey, David Denman, Steven Ogg, Imani Pullum, and Aaron Moten. Antoine Fuqua (Training Day) directed the feature from a script by Bill Collage.

Will Smith is no stranger when it comes to being nominated for an Academy Award, as he’s received nods for his performances in 2001’s Ali, 2006’s The Pursuit of Happyness, and 2021’s King Richard, which ended up being his first Oscar win. Being nominated for an Academy Award and not being allowed to attend the ceremony, however, is undoubtedly unfamiliar territory for the star. For now, it’s a little too soon to tell whether Smith will land a nomination for his performance in Emancipation, but the first reactions indicate the actor may be a strong contender for the best actor category at next year’s Academy Awards.

Even if Will Smith doesn’t receive any award recognition for his role in Emancipation, the actor can celebrate the fact that he hasn’t been entirely canceled. With Apple’s change of heart regarding the release of Emancipation, perhaps other studios will reconsider their stance on projects they’re currently or were previously collaborating with Smith on. For now, we’ll just have to wait and see how things play out for the star, but it looks like things are finally beginning to look up for the actor following months of controversy following the unfortunate incident during the 94th annual Academy Awards ceremony.