Is ‘Collateral Beauty’ Will Smith’s Oscar Ticket?
Everyone says he's due simply because he's in a big new star-studded drama
Will Smith’s turn in last year’s “Concussion” sparked tons of debate — but not necessarily about the film’s subject matter (namely, whether the NFL knowingly puts players in harm’s way and keeps them there).
No, the talk was whether or not he should have been nominated for an Oscar. It reached such a fever pitch, his wife Jada Pinkett-Smith not only videotaped her thoughts on the matter, she boycotted the Academy Awards and asked others to do the same.
With his “Collateral Beauty” dropping shortly, one can only wonder if we’ll be revisiting this whole ugly scenario again sometime soon.
The star-studded drama directed by David Frankel certainly fits the bill. Targeting the melancholy Christmas crowd, it follows Smith’s character, a former ad man who “begins a downward spiral after a tragic event but recovers in an unusual way.” Interestingly, as he disconnects from the world, he begins to write letters to “time, love, and death.”
The twist in the tale is when time, love, and death manifest into physical entities — like Helen Mirren and Keira Knightley.
Yep, the supporting cast boasts names like that, plus Edward Norton, Michael Pena, Naomi Harris, and more. Oscar winners and nominees abound!
But it really is all going to come down to Smith. If he can plumb the depths of a Tom Hanks circa “Philadelphia,” he just may stand a chance. Then again, Smith’s character here is a man dealing with the death of someone he loves — not his own impending death, as was the case with Hanks.
If he gets snubbed, his wife is going to be ticked again, and he’ll probably be looking for a place to crash.
Frankel is describing his film as a story about “reconnecting,” which will surely have appeal — i.e. connect with audiences. Will it give Smith enough scenery to chew, though? The Academy likes morose, that much we know; it also likes redemption. Smith, however, is not seeking vengeance here. At least not in the form of a man — like, say, Tom Hardy from last year’s “The Revenant.”
The star of that particular film, Leonardo DiCaprio, had the same rocky Oscar road as Smith, really. There were nominations, snubs, times maybe he should have won (“What’s Eating Gilbert Grape” and “Wolf of Wall Street”) and maybe even that time he shouldn’t have.
There will be no final courtroom scene either, a la “A Few Good Men” or, yes, “Philadelphia” again,” for audiences to cheer to. Just a man choosing to live again. The stuff of art house fare, where guys like Daniel Day-Lewis earned their wings.
The DiCaprio comparison is what works best here, though. Smith has just as impressive a roster of films, and, as mentioned, just as shoddy a record, nomination-wise. But no surrogate took the Academy to task when DiCaprio didn’t nab a nomination — Leo simply knew his day would come.
Smith does, too, and the fact is, “Collateral Beauty” probably shouldn’t be it. After all, he’s not gutting a horse to sleep in at night. But if he gets snubbed, his wife is going to be ticked again, and he’ll probably be looking for a place to crash.