Will People Vote For A Will Smith Movie At The Oscars After The Slap? Voting Members Weigh In

Will Smith accepting his Oscar for King Richard at the 2022 Academy Awards
(Image credit: ABC)

It was the slap that shook America, and likely what the 2022 Academy Awards will likely be remembered for. While Will Smith will be remembered in infamy for slapping Chirs Rock, he also joined the list of 2022 Oscar winners for his performance in Kind Richard. Now, his next movie, Emancipation, which just released its first trailer, could be in awards contention for next year, and Academy voters have some thoughts. 

In an extensive report done by THR, many voters from all over the film industry were asked if they would consider voting for Smith come Oscar season. The responses range from cautiously willing to aggressively against the idea. From the actor’s branch, one voter said: 

I think more time should go by before Will Smith is considered for any award. I’m surprised Emancipation is being released, but I assume it’s for financial reasons, as well as hoping for award nominations. However wonderful he may be in the film, it will be hard to watch it and not continually think of the slap. It will be really hard to judge the performance on merit, and by extension the whole film.

Emancipation had its first advanced screening a few days ago, and people are saying good things about it. Many who saw the film were posting that it is “powerful” and “inspiring.” Overall, the consensus of the movie seems to be positive. Some voters in the article did say that if the film and performance were phenomenal, they would consider voting for it, like this member of the music branch: 

Given that Will Smith has apologized and done a bit of ‘tchuva,’ and that forgiveness is a virtue, if I thought his performance warranted a vote I would not withhold that vote.

Smith recently posted about Emancipation, which is on the 2023 movie schedule for early in the year. He said this movie was the “hardest” one he’s worked on, and he gave a shout-out to Apple for making it. However, even if the film and performance are phenomenal many Academy voters don’t want to consider Smith. Like Lawrence David Foldes, a member of the producer's branch, who said: 

I was surprised but not surprised learning of the release of Emancipation this year. Surprised because I believe that the industry should shun Smith, not embrace and boost his image. Not surprised because of Apple’s interest in recovering its investment and hoping to cash in on, and profit from, Smith’s involvement. However, bigger films with larger losses have been shelved for lesser things — and not demonstrating to the public that the industry has some morsel of integrity and ethics only further validates the public’s impression of our industry’s hunger for dollars above all else. Would I vote for Smith? NO FUCKING WAY. His shameful violent outburst and pathetic sniveling ‘acceptance’ diatribe witnessed by millions — and his blatant disrespect of the Academy — should preclude him from any consideration and reward from AMPAS members for life.

The King Richard actor has said sorry to Rock for the slap. However, Rock had a blunt response to Smith's apology. Many people involved with the Academy also gave blunt answers about if Smith should be considered for any awards this year. It will be interesting to see how this conversation evolves as award season gets started. You can read more of the many responses from Academy voters in THR’s story, and stay tuned to CinemaBlend for updates on Emancipation, Will Smith, and the upcoming Oscar race. 

Riley Utley
Weekend Editor

Riley Utley is a Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. She spent many years working in local journalism across the country writing about art, news and sports. One of her favorite films is When Harry Met Sally and she walks around constantly quoting Ted Lasso.