The Tragedy of Denzel: Smith Vs Washington
Tonight is the 94th Oscars. It’s a momentous occasion for several reasons. After two years of lockdowns and empty cinemas, movie theatres have returned. Last year’s Oscars were hampered by covid-19 restrictions. Tonight, as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences celebrates the best in movies, viewers can expect a return to form for the biggest night in movies.
Those up for awards have no doubt prepared their speeches. From first time nominees Kristen Stewart to record breakers like Steven Spielberg. Other nominees are Javier Bardem for ‘Being the Ricardos’, Benedict Cumberbatch for ‘Power of the Dog’, and Andrew Garfield for ‘Tick Tick Boom’. Each of their performances deserve acclaim, but the real contest is between two kings. Will Smith for ‘King Richard’ and Denzel Washington for ‘The Tragedy of Macbeth’.
Will Smith is far from an Oscars novice. Over the last 2 decades he’s been in the conversation for some powerful performances. Yet for Smith, the mark has always been missed. In 2016 his performance in ‘Concussion’ was good enough for the Golden Globes, but got no love from the Oscars. He’s been nominated twice before. Once for his iconic role in ‘The Pursuit of Happyness’, and for bringing Muhammad Ali’s story to the screen in ‘Ali’.
Denzel on the other hand, is an Oscars darling. This is his 9th nomination for best actor, of which he’s won 2 already. Once in 1990 for his role in ‘Glory’. In 2002, Denzel won for ‘Training Day’. His competition? Will Smith in ‘Ali’.
20 years later the two titans face off once again. The fresh prince turns in a magnificent performance, perhaps the best of his lifetime. In comes Denzel Washington, one of the greatest actors of all time, playing the lead role in one of the greatest Shakespeare plays, by one of the greatest directors of all time. If the Oscar doesn’t go to Smith, one can’t help but see Smith as Charlie Brown, racing to kick a football that’s swiped away at the last minute by Washington.
If he does win, it’ll be the most satisfying moment at the Oscars since the ‘Moonlight’ fiasco of 2017. Especially considering the roles in question. As Macbeth, Denzel plays the titular role of a tyrannical king. One who has ruled without competition for years, but is eventually taken down by an old adversary, as prophecy foretold. Added to that, Smith’s Richard Williams is a man whose pursuit of greatness seems unending, yet after years of being denied his destiny, finally gets the recognition he deserves. I don’t know if there’s a prophecy for the 94th Oscars, but of all the categories up for grabs, Best Actor is a story all to itself.