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Can Will Smith be nominated for an Oscar even if he is banned for slapping Chris Rock?

While the public won’t know the 2023 Oscars nominees for a couple months, the movie Emancipation has people wondering if Will Smith could be nominated.

Update:
Despite ban, could Will Smith be nominated for an Oscar?
BRIAN SNYDERREUTERS

Something memorable always happens every year at the Oscars, but the 94th edition caught everyone off guard. A little jesting by the MC Chris Rock about Jada Pinkett Smith got under her husband’s collar. So much so that he marched on stage and gave the comedian a slap across the face on live TV.

While at first it seemed like it was part of the script, it became blatantly clear that it had been the real deal. Will Smith was allowed to stay, and even got to give a speech on stage when he won Best Actor, without mentioning the elephant in the room nor apologizing to Rock.

But the fallout came soon afterward. He resigned from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences the week after. That was followed by a ten-year ban from attending Academy events. He did finally apologize to Rock as well.

Now though, the latest movie he had the lead role in ‘Emancipation’ is set to be released soon and there is much buzz that he could be a contender for another Best Actor award. So, it begs the question, could he be nominated in spite of the slap heard around the world?

Could Will Smith be nominated for an Oscar even though he is banned?

In short, yes, he could. Despite his dust up with Rock, Smith could be nominated by the Academy’s Actors Branch according to Variety. It would be up to the roughly 1,400 members to place him on the ballot for the vote that takes place between 12 and 17 January. Whether or not they do, won’t be known until the shortlist of nominees is announced the following week on 24 January.

Were he to be nominated, even win the award, there would be one hitch, he would not be able to accept it in person nor as part of the broadcast.

The question is whether Apple and Smith will push for an Oscar nomination

Variety notes that the running for Best Actor at the 95th Oscars is a crowded field with such names as Brendan Fraser for ‘The Whale’, Austin Butler for ‘Elvis’, Colin Farrell for ‘The Banshees of Inisherin’ and Hugh Jackman for ‘The Son’. Smith though won’t be able to personally schmooze any members at any Academy gatherings due to the ban.

That doesn’t mean that he couldn’t use alternative venues such as SAG and Golden Globes events. He and Apple, which forked over $35 million to Smith to take part in the production, could also push to have the film and actor recognized for other awards like Best Picture or Best Producer, which Smith was one.

Emancipation will hit select theaters on 2 December and stream globally on Apple TV+ 9 December.

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