Over the next weeks, several articles in the “Important Media” will tout Will Smith as a Best Actor shoo-in for his dramatic role in Sony Pictures’ The Pursuit of Happyness. Given the upcoming critics’ awards, Golden Globes, and other pre-Academy Award nonsense, this probably isn’t too early to be shouting Oscar though the movie doesn’t even open until December 15th. (I don’t start prognosticating until January, thank you.) Then again, everyone who’s seen this inspirational melodrama based on Chris Gardner’s real-life story and autobio really loves it. (“A long walk to Wall Street is how others describe my life. But when I look back at the journey from homelessness to prosperity, I hold one thing dearer than all else: my commitment to my son.”) In my opinion, if Will deserves an award, it’s for this: Smith saw Italian director Gabriele Muccino’s work on Last Kiss (2001) and Remember me, My Love (2003) and told Sony execs, this guy has to direct this movie. And the suits rightfully went, HUH? I’m told they didn’t even know who this Italian fella was. Because Muccino couldn’t get arrested in the U.S. much less get work, especially after his deal with Miramax fell through. But Smith persisted, Sony execs relented, and the movie was made rather brilliantly. Of course, Smith, with his wife Jada Pinkett, once upon a time also pushed hard for Spike Lee to direct Ali — that is, until Sony execs heard Lee suggest opening the movie with a lynching. On the other hand, considering how poorly that pic helmed by Michael Mann did at the box office, maybe Will was right.
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