“King Richard” Review: Will Smith Reinvents Himself Once Again and Aims for Oscar Glory

Demi Singleton, Will Smith and Saniyya Sidney in “King Richard.” Photo Courtesy: Warner Bros.

Rating: 8/10

When it comes to getting an Oscar, third could be the charm for Will Smith. The rapper, actor and producer is not only expected to get a nomination for his role in King Richard as Richard Williams, the father and coach of tennis champions Venus and Serena Williams, but he’s the frontrunner in the Best Actor category.

Smith, who was previously nominated for the real-life characters he played in Ali (2002) and The Pursuit of Happiness (2006), is a master in the art of personal branding and self-promotion. He’s pulling out all the stops to get that coveted award and be on top of Hollywood’s ladder once again. Earlier this month he released the YouTube Original series Best Shape of My Life, where he documents how he aimed to lose 20lb in 20 weeks. He’s also just published his memoir, Will, and has given a near-endless amount of quite revealing interviews during the last few weeks while promoting all of this work.

Of course, he’s not the only one in King Richard. The awards contender is directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green (Monsters and Men) and it stars Saniyya Sidney (Hidden Figures) as Venus; Demi Singleton (Godfather of Harlem) as Serena; Aunjanue Ellis (Lovecraft Country) as Brandy, the girls’ mom and Richard’s wife; and a mustachioed Jon Bernthal as the tennis coach Rick Macci. King Richard debuts in theaters and on HBO Max this Friday, November 19.

Besides the Oscar nomination for Smith, King Richard could also receive a Best Picture nomination; Green’s work could even be recognized in the directing category, while Ellis might shine in the Supporting Actress one; and it’s possible that Beyoncé will garner awards attention for the Best Original Song, “Be Alive.