King Richard Review – The Surprise of 2021

Directed By: Reinaldo Marcus Green
Cast: Will Smith, Jon Bernthal, Aunjanue Ellis, Saniyya Sidney, Demi Singleton,
Synopsis: A look at how tennis superstars Venus and Serena Williams became who they are after the coaching from their father Richard Williams.

Feel-good movies are not my thing. It’s just manipulative bs to me at this point. It’s a lazy way to make audiences think they love a movie. Therefore, I was not excited about ‘King Richard’. It just seemed like a movie that would come and go. Then I started hearing Oscar buzz for Will Smith, then hear rumors about it being a possibility for Best Picture. Okay, now I’m curious. I was fortunate enough to get an early access showing of the movie. I sit in a screening room at 7 o’clock at night in a tired, relaxed mood, ready to be taken away by a movie, and let me tell you something, ‘King Richard’ is actually a well written, amazingly acted movie which is feel good to serve its point that you should never give up on your dreams.

Will Smith serves as Richard Williams, father of Venus and Serena Williams, a hard but loving father who wants the world for his daughters not for his own pride, but for the sake of their future happiness. Let me tell you something, what you’ve heard is true, and Will Smith is genuinely great. By far and away his best performance. He does an amazing job at capturing the warmth that comes from having a dad that loves you. He dominates every scene he is in and your eyes are commanded to him. Aunjanue Ellis is one of the best supporting performances of the year. She’s the wife and mother of the Williams family and serves in the movie as the devils advocate to Richard Williams’ questionable decisions he makes for his daughters.

The writing in ‘King Richard’ is superb. It’s well-paced and gives every actor a moment or two to shine. All of the families dialogue sounds like something a close family like this would say and helps build character. It chugs along at a great pace and knows what it wants to be.

Reinaldo Marcus Green does a commendable job at directing but unfortunately for the type of movie it is, he doesn’t get a lot of time to shine. It’s a very good film but not really because of it’s directing, therefore I don’t think it has a shot at the Oscars in this category, but we’ll get to that soon enough ;).

My main complaint about King Richard is that it doesn’t really have a visual style. The score and camerawork are very generic and the production and costume design is only there to represent its time. I know for this type of movie it isn’t needed per-say but it would’ve made ‘King Richard’ all the better.

All in all, ‘King Richard’ is a well acted and written film about love, hope and believing in yourself, but is let down by underwhelming direction and a lack of style.

Grade: A-

Oscar Chances

Now to the fun part, is it true ‘King Richard’ could win Best Picture?

One thing is for sure, and that is that Will Smith is looking very likely to win Best Actor. I don’t want to say I’m certain as I said the same about Chadwick Boseman this year and, well… but I’m confident he is the current front runner. He has a memoir coming out, a comedy special and this. Smith is really trying to make this his year and it is working. Aunjanue Ellis also does more then enough to say she has secured herself a nomination, but a win seems ambitious to predict due to competition such as Ann Dowd for ‘Mass’ and Caitriona Balfe for ‘Belfast’.

Despite competition seeming strong this year I still think it can squeeze into Original Screenplay. There is always that one feel good movie that gets into the screenplay category and this seems like the one that will.

Best Editing seems possible due to it being a Best Picture front runner and the tennis scenes having an aggressively fast pace to them.

Now to the category you’re all curious about, Best Picture. Do I think it’s getting nominated, yes, do I think it is winning, NO. ‘King Richard’ only seems likely to get four nominations outside of Best Picture which already makes it not the biggest Oscar movie ever. Not only that, I think after the embarrassing ‘Green Book’ win a few years ago, the Academy are being very careful with they vote for as a Best Picture worthy movie, and whilst ‘King Richard’ is very enjoyable, I can’t see it being well remembered as the years go on.

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