It’s that time of year again, folks, when serious films that mainstream thespians have worked really, really hard on to prove that they can actually act start to filter into cinemas. And the latest trailer for Concussion sees Will Smith stretching his ability to the limits all in the name of trying to get an Oscar nomination (and tell an important story, of course). And from the looks of things, he could do just that.
Not too bad, Mr. Smith. I mean, the role of Dr. Bennet Omalu certainly possesses a number of traits that mean it is certainly awards season fodder. Not only is it a biopic, but it sees Will Smith deploying an accent, while his character is on a moralistic pursuit to reveal the true extent of the brain damage suffered by professional football players.
Meanwhile, it will also help the actor’s cause that this is something of a passion project for Will Smith, and it’s quite obviously his most serious piece of work in around a decade. In fact, probably since The Pursuit Of Happyness, which resulted in Will Smith being nominated for a Best Actor gong at the Academy Awards and Golden Globes. And if history is any indication, there’s every chance that Smith could find himself nominated again for his work in Concussion. Just look at Sandra Bullock, who won a Best Actress Oscar back in 2010 for her performance in The Blind Side.
Like Concussion, The Blind Side was a melodrama that was set against the back-drop of the sport of football. Because of just how overwrought with drama and conflict it was, Sandra Bullock was given plenty of room to showcase the full range of her acting ability, something that her previous roles hadn’t quite allowed her to do. This is very similar to Will Smith’s career trajectory, too, and the Academy has always shown a fondness for rewarding mainstream, blockbuster actors who are able to convince them of their talent.
But, there’s just one problem for Will Smith: this year’s Best Actor category is going to include (from the look's of it) virtuoso performances that will rival his in Concussion. From the looks of things, Leonardo DiCaprio’s turn in The Revenant already has critics salivating in appreciation, while Eddie Redmayne is once again revelatory in The Danish Girl, just a year after he won the Best Actor award at the Oscars for his performance as Stephen Hawking in The Theory Of Everything.
It’s still a little too early to tell which of these actors is the frontrunner. We’ll get a clearer idea at the turn of the year, especially once we’ve seen how the public and critics react to Concussion when it is released on December 25.