Oscar History

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Will Smith Doesn't Know His Oscar History

Have you read this incredibly obnoxious interview with Big Willie & Son on working together and the family business "patterns, boom!" There are a lot of ridiculous pull quotes but this one, on the Oscars is naturally my favorite. To mock.

Do you think there is a single theory to everything?
 There’s definitely a theory to everything.
 When you find things that are tried and true for millennia, you can bet that it’s going to happen tomorrow.
 The sun coming up?
 The sun coming up, but even a little more. Like for Best Actor Oscars. Almost 90 percent of the time, it’s mental illness and historical figures, right? So, you can be pretty certain of that if you want to win—as a man; it’s very different for women. The patterns are all over the place, but for whatever reason, it’s really difficult to find the patterns in Best Actress.

It's not 90 percent unless you include physical disabilities in there!!! Will Smith is neither Oscar buff nor actressexual apparently, since he's obviously dreamt of winning Best Actor (but not hard enough to push himself out of his comfort zone - turning down Quentin Tarantino is a sign that you're getting in your own way in this regard) and never given much thought to its distaff counterpart. Which is, if you think of it, totally a no brainer given his filmography. Women in his movies are merely decorative and usually extraneous and apparently, from what I've heard of After Earth, that isn't changing any time soon.

So we should help him with the Best Actress patterns in the comments. I'll start...

• Haven't you ever heard of "de-glamming", Will? That's been a popular winning strategy since Grace Kelly beat Judy Garland in 1954.

• And speaking of...
Doesn't the Fresh Prince know anything about The Princess Factor? Hepburn over Kerr, Kelly over Garland, Matlin over Turner, Foster over Close, Paltrow over Everyone, Roberts over Burstyn, Cotillard over Christie, Portman over Bening, Lawrence over Riva -- the popular 20something to early30s fresh star beauties are always beating their legendary older rivals.

• Historical figures (nowadays this has morphed into "biopic mimicry") aren't just a winning strategy in Best Actor! 

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Reader Comments (34)

That interview is bliss. Love that their theory of the universe includes the inherent rationality of Oscar. Willow seems cool.

June 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTB

Will Smith is such a diva. And that family... they give me the creeps. They look like they belong inside the movie Stepford Wives.

June 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJay

People really jump on me when I say that Lawrence won because the Academy is obsessed with female youth and beauty. They always say, "She won LAFCA and the GG, and came in second place NSFC, so saying she won just because she looks like a princess is a bit of a stretch!"

But, for me personally, I really don't see how someone could watch all five of the nominated performances and think that Lawrence's was the best.

June 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTyler

Will.Smith is now following the career path of say, Nic Cage...in the toilet...

June 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMark

I'm sorry but this whole family is just too much for me. I'm glad After Earth has bombed.

June 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAaron

I whip my Oscars back and forth, I whip my Oscars back and forth!

June 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSad man

I can understand show biz parents wanting to help their kids career- but poor Jaden really would've been better server if he had stuck for now to supporting roles.

June 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJaragon

Off-topic but.. Nathaniel you have to watch the Drama Actress Roundtable from THR.

Monica Potter is awesome, and Kerry and Connie are so cool. And Liz Moss and Anna Gunn too. Kate Mara is Kate Mara though but it's worth it.

June 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJay

Tyler: Of the members of the field that I've, here's my rankings (haven't seen Riva's)

4. Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook (her work in The Hunger Games is a way better performance in an only slightly worse movie)
3. Naomi Watts, The Impossible (it's still not something I quite understand the nom for, but okay. Physical pain piece.)
2. Quvenzhane Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild.
1. Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty (definitely should have won.)

June 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

I honestly can't stand the Smiths. I love Willow, though. Whip My Hair is my jam and I love her whole "misunderstood" thing.

Did you hear what she said to Will in regards to the Annie remake? She changed her mind and Will was like "come on baby, it'll be so fun!" and she was like "dad, here's an idea: how about you let me be a kid?" I was like damnnnnnnn, lol.

I thought she would've been great for it and I was interested to see her in it, but good for you! Do what makes you happy. She could've been the next pop princess or a movie star but doesn't seem to want to go that direction. Good for you, Willow. Don't let your fam ruin you.

June 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPhilip H.

The sheer entitlement of this wealthy family is abhorrent. After Earth is a Scientology shill. And second that I would have preferred Riva or Chastain.

Will Smith definitely strikes me as being of a certain type of actor and actress who doesn't watch movies. I agree that his comment was obnoxious and he comes across as generally fatuous in the article.

But...(there's always a but) the mainstream response to this interview has been a little troubling. There seems to be this weird...I dunno, resentment going around. Words like "entitlement" are being thrown around. I'm not picking on the commenter who used this word. It's not the first time I've heard it in response to this article. I feel like just a tiny bit of the outcry against Will Smith and this interview is couched in subconscious, coded racism. Again, I agree that he comes across as a jackass in the interview. But the vitriol...it reads a little "How dare he!"

It's almost a permutation on some of the response to Mo'nique during the Precious awards run a few years back. A lot of it read as "How dare she speak her mind given the fact that she's achieving success in an industry that doesn't typically embrace people like her (and where she doesn't belong...possibly? Reaching?)" My point is, I just feel like white celebrities are given an extra inch or so of imaginary negative space in which to be, well...stupid without garnering the bile that Will Smith has been garnering. Just a thought.

I should have amended that to say "space in which to be stupid and/or outspoken and/or obnoxious." I was in no way implying that Mo'Nique (whom I love, both as an actress and in the way she bucked the system during the awards season) said anything stupid. Will Smith on the other hand...

I have no interest in parents who promote child labor. Maybe Jaden is not talented and Will is out of touch. The resentment is towards Scientology and the movie seems like a very expensive mistake.

June 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSamson

@Pretentious: I see what you're saying, and I think Mo'Nique absolutely caught a huge blast of Who-Does-She-Think-She-Is that a white actress would never have caught. In this case, my opinion is that Will Smith is basically jumping on Oprah's couch, and he's getting the same flak for weird megalomania that Tom C. got. It's also just hitting at a bad time because it's been years since he has appeared to be trying in a movie, and After Earth was an easy call as a bomb, but rather than a tactical re-introduction to his audience or a charming PR campaign on his own behalf (which he's great at doing), he's just serving up grandiose self-admiration here, just like Tom C. did when people were really ready for something different. But it's interesting considering the perspective you bring up.

June 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNick Davis

Even without the kissing scene, his performance in Six Degrees of Separation was really good. I think he could be a great actor, but I usually don't like his movies and I try not to read his interviews.

Glad to see that Sophie Okonedo also stars in After Earth. I assume Nick Davis ran to see that ;)

June 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue


I don't know about Will Smith, but I definitely agree with you especially with Jamie Foxx. A lot of people ( not necessarily TFE) doesn't like his personality, but it's okay for RDJ to have a similar personality and everyone loves him.

June 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMelissa

I completely agree that there's a subversive racism in all forms of media - essentially, straight white males are allowed a much higher level of self-confidence or self-esteem. Anyone else should be 'grateful to be there'...

Re: Mo'nique - I wasn't aware of any vitriol (though I'm in the UK, so may have missed it). That said, I do think that her winning speech at the Oscars (or was it the BAFTAs?) was, at best, very naive and at worst, disingenuous. To take the approach that, just because she didn't personally campaign, her performance won only on artistic merit? She's my winner that year, but her Oscar nomination was paid for by her studio in exactly the same way that ANY Oscar nomination is paid for. By all means, look down on the award and the system itself (like Tilda clearly did), but please don't start making comments that imply you're somehow 'better' than your fellow nominees because you didn't kiss ass at industry dinners like they did. We all know that no one is there solely on 'merit'...

June 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKermit


You're right. Robert Downey Jr. has an out of control ego and gets praised for it, because he's quirky or something. While Will Smith and Jamie Foxx get trashed for daring to be proud of their accomplishments . And don't get me started on Johnny Depp who has a really bad case of verbal diarrhea but the mainstream media barely pick on all the stupid things he says.

And it's not like Depp or Downey are doing anything interesting with their careers either, but they don't get half the hate Will Smith does. It's troubling.

June 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDana


Let's not forget what Polanski recently said at Cannes on women and birth control.ugh! I mean it's fine to respect his work, but where's the outcry about his comments? As someone else said Polanski is the Chris Brown for the high art crowd.

June 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMelissa

It was a shock when Cruise did it. At the time he was bankable, a box office guarantee. He had War of the Worlds and simple math of Cruise + Spielberg + alien invasion felt like it would surely be tops at the box office by the end of the year tally. It still made a lot of money but during that promotion campaign on Oprah's couch and calling Matt Lauer glib on the Today show, there were whispers starting and getting gradually louder where him possibly going mad just became everyday conversation. It seemed that his antics were a distraction for the movie and it actually probably would have made as much money with a leading man with not as much cache at the time. This was also around the time I believe when his sister became his agent rather than the old school, no-nonsense, keep your skeletons hidden agents that he had all those years previously.

For Smith that interview on Vulture is really nuts. It was his jumping the couch moment. I have no idea who reports to him but I have to imagine it is nobody of real power or influence and whoever used to control his image in maintaining a wholesome family man of color with such universality is no longer working for him.

June 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCMG

If he had taken the risk with Django...he would've made it in Best Actor, probably over Denzel or knocking out someone like Bradley Cooper.

June 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBia

I don't know about Roberts, Portman, and Lawrence winning from being thought of as "princesses" though, since they won a lot of precursors (especially Portman). Or maybe it's not just an Oscar thing.

I am really starting to dislike Jaden, but only for the fact that he makes that same scrunched up pouty face look everywhere he goes.

June 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRyan

I don't think the interview is obnoxious as much as it lacks awareness of self and the greater world surrounding them, but I attribute that to gaining that level of fame. They seem quite content to live in their insular bubble simply because they have that luxury.

Though I'm no great fan of the entire Smith clan, I do wish Will would challenge himself more because he is not without the ability to actually give a great performance.

June 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTroy H.

If he had taken the risk with Django...he would've made it in Best Actor, probably over Denzel or knocking out someone like Bradley Cooper.

The dismissal of Denzel Washington continues. He won his second Oscar because Russell Crowe's a bastard. How did he get in this year for FLIGHT when I didn't bother to see it and I wanted someone white in there instead.

June 2, 2013 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

The phrase jumping the shark comes to mind.

June 2, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermark

The movie had a weak opening - but what kind of parent puts that much pressure on a child?
Jaden seems rather average to carry a summer blockbuster. The trailer was boring.

June 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJaragon

Not all criticism is laced with racial or other bias; sometimes it's on the face of it merited. Having met Jamie Foxx and Will Smith during PA tours, I can say that the former was an egomaniacal nightmare, while the latter was as professional as could be. And I've met other celebrities, such as Drew Barrymore, who are bubbly in interviews and chilly in person, so it's a mixed bag. (Sarah Jessica Parker, like Will Smith, was gracious and graceful, by the way.)

Anyway, Depp is and has been getting plenty of flack for his increasingly off-putting, artistically-inert choices (www.vulture.com/2013/05/johnny-depp-exits-whitey-bulger-biopic.html), so it's not as if all Caucasian superstars get off high-horsed, horse-assed comments scott-free.

June 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMareko

@Nick Davis
Totally agree with every point you raised. Will Smith does not come across well at all in the article and it confirms many of the things I've long suspected about him, even when he appeared to be challenging himself. To put it more clearly, my unease about the situation is akin to my feelings about the way white people criticize Tyler Perry, for instance. Even if I happen to agree with the larger critical talking points about Tyler Perry and what he's doing, I do often notice an undercurrent of resentment for his success and his prominence. And given what we know just by looking at the race representations, it's difficult sometimes not to default to racism being at least part of that undercurrent.

Accidentally hit "create post" but to finish, it seems that it's much easier to write off Will Smith and Jamie Foxx as arrogant/entitled and talk about how Tyler Perry is destroying black people with his films, while also smiling and generally letting slide the Todd Phillips, Michael Bays and (as someone nicely brought up) Robert Downey Jr's of this world for their shenanigans. There's a very ingrained resistance to the idea of the black celebrity in mainstream consciousness.

"If he had taken the risk with Django...he would've made it in Best Actor, probably over Denzel or knocking out someone like Bradley Cooper."

It would have been Joaquin Phoenix as his nomination was in spite of him as I only remember Amy Adams of The Masters team doing any kind of campaigning. Denzel and Cooper both worked hard to do that and you can imagine Smith's efforts (I remember liking Ali for what it was but I really just remember Smith's aggressive campaigning despite the movie being a financial flop).

June 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCMG

Will Jr. has some guns on him, huh?

So glad "After Earth" tanked. It looked horrid in the trailers. M. Night needs to call it a day as well.

June 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCyd

Hey de-glamming didn't start with Grace Kelly in The Country Girl. There was Olivia de Havilland in The Heiress, and hell Janet Gaynor in Sunrise was certainly not glamourous.

June 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSean Troutman

Sean -- good point. I'm not sure Gaynor qualiifes since you know the other films figured into her Oscar but Olivia De Havilland is a great example.

June 3, 2013 | Unregistered Commenternathanielr

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