Will Smith And Denzel Washington Are Both Competing For Best Actor This Year, But The King Richard Star Just Landed Another Awards Win

Will Smith and Denzel Washington
(Image credit: Warner Bros./Apple TV+)

The critics have officially spoken. Both Will Smith and Denzel Washington were up for the Best Actor trophy at the 2022 Critics’ Choice Awards. But only one of these celebrated stars took home the top prize and, in this instance, it was Smith won for King Richard.

Will Smith and Denzel Washington are both in the awards race for Best Actor at the 2022 Oscars. However, they’ve also been competing at a string of awards shows ahead of the lauded ceremony. The race started out on even footing, but Will Smith just gained some major ground by nabbing Best Actor at the Critics’ Choice Awards this past Sunday. As People reported, other nominees included Benedict Cumberbatch for The Power of the Dog, Peter Dinklage for Cyrano, Andrew Garfield for Tick, Tick…BOOM!, and Nicholas Cage for Pig.

The actor formerly known as the Fresh Prince was nominated for his performance as Richard Williams, the father and eventual coach of professional tennis legends Serena and Venus Williams. Meanwhile, Denzel Washington was nominated for playing the titular role in Joel Coen’s The Tragedy of Macbeth (a bit ironic, considering the Shakespeare-inspired title of his colleague's film). Both performances has drawn rave reviews from critics and fans alike, but only one can lay claim to the legendary golden statuette. 

Both actors were nominated in the Best Actor category at several stops on the pre-Oscars award show circuit, including the SAG Awards, the BAFTAs, and the Golden Globe Awards. Will Smith was named the winner at all three of these events (wich Denzel Washington emotionally commending him for the SAG). This Critics’ Choice Award now marks the fourth straight honor he’s received for King Richard.  

If the Independence Day icon nabs the Oscar, it will be the first Academy win for the rapper-turned-movie and television star. He was previously nominated in 2002 for his leading role as boxer Muhammed Ali in Ali and later for his turn as Chris Gardner in The Pursuit of Happyness in 2007. 

By comparison, Denzel Washington has already won two Oscars: the 1990 Best Supporting Actor prize for his role as Private Silas Trip in Glory and the 2002 Best Actor award for his performance as Alonzo Harris in Training Day

If his track record is any indication, Will Smith’s chances of winning the Oscar for King Richard are pretty solid. Awards shows like the Critics’ Choice Awards and the Golden Globes are typically reliable indicators of Academy preferences, but it’s never a surefire guarantee. We’ll just have to wait until the Oscars air on Sunday, March 27 to find out who goes home with the ultimate prize. 

Catch Will Smith’s award-winning performance in King Richard, available to rent from Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, and Apple TV, or Denzel Washington’s Oscar-nominated turn in The Tragedy of Macbeth with your Apple TV+ subscription. You can also check out more upcoming movie releases or take a peek at the 2022 Oscar nominees and other things we know about the ceremony.

Rachel Romean

Actor, singer, and occasional dancer. Likes: fashion, books, old buildings. Dislikes: cilantro, the NJ Turnpike, sneaker wedges.