The Oscars are fast approaching, and one name has been unjustly left out of the Best Actor category: Steve Carell, an actor so perfect in The Big Short, that it’s such a shock to find his name absent from the ballot.

Oh, and Will Smith also isn’t nominated.

Smith stars as Doctor Omalu in new film Concussion. When a local American footballing legend dies young, Omalu discovers a trend between early death and football-related head trauma. However, his research is condemned and dismissed by the NFL, and so Omalu the Nobody must take on the big bad boys of American football.

Of course, as with every film nowadays, Concussion is based on a true story. The facts surrounding this film, the concept that America’s greatest pastime (that isn’t baseball) is killing off its best players, is undeniably interesting and relevant, and the discovery has already evoked certain changes and precautions within the game.

The film, however, suffers from, well, being a film – or more accurately, thinking it has to inject all these filmic elements. As standard with any one-man-versus-the-world stories, in Concussion we get anonymous phone threats, suspicious cars, and men in suits saying things like ‘We’re shutting this down.’ It’s the way they did biopics in the early nineties, or worse, on TV.

If anything, Concussion will make you appreciate the craftsmanship in Spotlight much more.

Of course, it’s a film about performances. With Alec Baldwin looking plastic and Albert Brooks all wigged up, it’s up to Smith to carry the film. And he does. There’s no denying that there is something innately charming and likeable about Smith, and that when he wants to be, he can be one of the best actors around. Hopefully Smith will now stop focusing on the careers of his damn wiener kids, and work on his own.

That said, Smith’s performance can’t rival the likes of Russell Crowe’s in similarly themed film The Insider. It simply isn’t at that level. Which leads to the hypothesis that maybe if the film itself was better, Smith’s performance would’ve been better, or even just better received.

But it isn’t, so Smith must join Carell on the list of the Oscar hopeless.




Rían Smith