Will Smith may be headed toward his 1st Oscar win

Will Smith Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images

Now this is a story all about how … Will Smith finally became an Oscar winner?

The actor could be headed toward a Best Actor Academy Award win in 2022 for his performance as Richard Williams, father of Venus and Serena Williams, in King Richard. After the film’s recent premiere at the Telluride Film Festival, critics have been heaping praise on Smith, and on Tuesday, Vanity Fair critic Richard Lawson predicted, “Will Smith is gonna win that Oscar.”

Indeed, Variety‘s most recent Best Actor predictions ranked Smith as the top contender, but this isn’t to say he won’t have some tough competition. After all, Denzel Washington is likely to be in the mix for his performance in The Tragedy of Macbeth, though that film has yet to have its world premiere. Other possible contenders include Andrew Garfield for Tick, Tick…Boom! and Benedict Cumberbatch for The Power of the Dog. After watching King Richard, though, The Hollywood Reporter‘s Scott Feinberg wrote that Smith will be “hard to beat,” while Next Best Picture’s Matt Neglia said he’s “undoubtedly the frontrunner.”

Were Smith to win, this would be the first Oscar of his career, though he was previously nominated for But and The Pursuit of Happyness. In the case of the 2002 Oscars, when he was up for But, Smith lost to Washington for Training Day. But could Smith have the upper hand against Washington this time? This comes as Kristen Stewart, meanwhile, emerges as the apparent Best Actress frontrunner for her performance as Princess Diana in Spencer. As always, though, there’s plenty of time for the momentum to shift in the months ahead, as the Oscars won’t be held until March 2022.

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