Will Smith has won the Best Actor Oscar at the 94th Academy Awards for his role in the sports film King Richard. Directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green, the film sees Smith play Richard Williams the infamous father and coach of the world’s most famous tennis players Venus and Serena Williams.
Will Smith managed to beat over his fellow nominees – including Being the Ricardos’ Javier Bardem, Tick, Tick… Boom’s Andrew Garfield, The Power of the Dog’s Benedict Cumberbatch, and The Tragedy of MacBeth’s Denzel Washington – in a hotly contested category. However, the award was overshadowed by Smith punching Oscars host Chris Rock earlier in the night.
During his speech, Smith made a tearful apology to the Academy and his fellow nominees – but notably not to Rock – joking he was worried that he wouldn’t be invited back next year. “Art imitates life. I look like the crazy father. But love will make you do crazy things,” Smith sobbed. “I hope the Academy invites me back.”
The 94th Academy Awards have been the subject of other controversies ahead of the ceremony. In an attempt to shorten the award’s runtime, The Academy announced it was going to pre-record the presentation and acceptance of eight awards related to ‘below the line’ achievements.
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This caused widespread outrage in the filmmaking community, with directors, actors, and producers coming forward to criticise the decision, perhaps most notably Steven Spielberg.
“I feel very strongly that this is perhaps the most collaborative medium in the world,” Spielberg wrote in a statement. “All of us make movies together… I feel that at the Academy Awards there is no above the line, there is no below the line. All of us are on the same line bringing the best of us to tell the best stories we possibly can. And that means for me we should all have a seat at the supper table together live at 5.”
To protests, the Academy’s decision Deadline has reported that several Academy members will turn their badges the wrong way around and hold their awards upside down.
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