Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story included a gratuitous and problematic reference to Will Smith’s father that lacked the necessary context.
The City of Brotherly Love is well-represented among Tuesday’s list of 2022 Oscar nominees.
Leading the pack of local nominees is Philadelphia native Will Smith, who was nominated for best actor for his role playing tennis father Richard Williams in King Richard. Smith has been nominated twice before for best actor — in 2007 for The Pursuit of Happyness and in 2002 for Ali — but has yet to win an Oscar.
Smith had a complicated relationship with his own father, bolstering his performance: During an interview at The Met Philadelphia in November, Smith said he owes his strong work ethic and determination to his father, but he was also deathly afraid of the man he called Daddio, an angry alcoholic who was abusive to Smith’s mother.
“My father was my hero,” Smith told the audience. “Adversity and perseverance go together. My father was both things. He was a complicated person. He was the greatest hero, and one of the greatest aspects of my life. He was also one of my greatest sources of pain.”
Smith was also an executive producer on King Richard, meaning he could potentially take home two Academy Awards next month.
It was also a big morning for Questlove, the popular drummer from The Roots and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. Questlove, whose real name is Ahmir Thompson, was nominated for best documentary feature for Summer of Soul (...Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised), his insightful look at the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival. Summer of Soul is also up for a Grammy Award for best music film.
Questlove, who also erved as a music consultant and voice actor on last year’s Pixar film Soul, was initially reluctant to direct the film. But he told the Inquirer his need to tell the Harlem Cultural Festival story hit home when he was reading Prince’s posthumous memoir The Beautiful Ones.
“He talks about this moment with his dad taking him to see the Woodstock movie when he was 11, and how that changes his life. He knew instantly: That’s what I’m going to do. And I thought, ‘Whoa, what if this film had existed then?’ Think of the millions of other kids that this could have affected.”
Malvern-native Adam McKay, best known for directing Will Ferrell comedies like Anchorman and Step Brothers, was nominated for best original screenplay for the Netflix dark comedy Don’t Look Up. The story was co-written by David Sirota, who grew up in Montgomery County. Don’t Look Up was also nominated for best picture, but McKay didn’t receive a best director nomination.
Havertown-native Elizabeth Mirzaei earned an Oscar nomination for the short documentary Three Songs for Benazir, which she directed alongside her husband, Gulistan. The film, which is available to stream on Netflix, follows an Afghan newlywed named Shaista and the choices he must make to build a life with his pregnant wife, Benazir.
“We’re grateful to our team who believed in the universality of this love story from Afghanistan,” the couple said in a statement to the Inquirer. “And our deepest appreciation to Shaista and Benazir, whose ability to preserve love and intimacy in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds can be a lesson for all of us. We hope that the world remembers Afghanistan.”
The Academy Awards will air on Sunday, March 27, on ABC. The show will have a host for the first time since 2018, but we still don’t know who it’ll be.