The Academy May Not Be Done With Will Smith Just Yet

Will Smith's decision to slap Chris Rock in the face on stage at the Oscars (it never stops being wild to think about, does it?) did not come without consequences. Obviously. As punishment, Smith had to resign his Academy membership and was banned from attending virtually or in person any Academy Awards events for ten years. So, when Smith later took the stage to accept his first Oscar win for best actor, it could very well have been the last time he will take the Oscars stage at all — at least for the foreseeable future. 

Be that as it may, the Academy may not be done with Will Smith just yet after all. He may be banned from the ceremony, but the actor isn't banned from acting. And that means he could still be eligible to be nominated for other Academy Awards in the future. Possibly the very near future, as it turns out. 

Will Smith could be nominated for his upcoming film

Apple has announced it will release its film "Emancipation," which stars Will Smith as an escaped slave, and Variety reports that Smith's performance could still earn him a second Oscar. As Variety notes, it's normal for Oscar-nominee hopefuls to campaign for nominations in the months leading up to awards season, but because Smith has been banned from all Academy-sponsored events, his opportunities to make his case to the Academy voters will be limited. Smith could also be nominated for best picture, as he served as a producer on the film as well.

In its list of best actor nominee predictions for the upcoming 2023 Oscars, The Hollywood Reporter has named Brendan Fraser, Austen Butler, Colin Farrell, Tom Cruise, and Adam Sandler as frontrunners. Meanwhile, Smith is included in the "Still to See" column alongside Christian Bale, Diego Calva, Winston Duke, Tom Hanks, and Sam Worthington. We're still very much in uncharted territory here, so only time will tell if Smith's "Emancipation" performance is good enough to overcome the distaste of the Academy. 

So far, it's not looking great for the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. In a survey of Academy members, The Hollywood Reporter found they had mixed attitudes toward nominating Smith. "He did something terrible. He apologized. We have to allow people to grow and learn and atone," said one. But another said, plainly and bluntly, "NO F***ING WAY!"