Telluride Review: ‘King Richard’ serves up some serious awards potential

User Rating: 8

Reinaldo Marcus Green‘s King Richard has become one of the most buzzed-about films of the upcoming awards season. The film tells the story of Richard Williams (Will Smith), the father of Venus and Serena Williams, and how he fought for his daughters to become two of the biggest names in tennis.

If you have seen the trailer for King Richard, you probably have a good idea of what one would expect from the film. The story being told is very accessible and will likely appeal to a wide audience. I can see this film doing very well at the box office, not only because of what it is about but also because it is much more entertaining than most awards movies. 

The story of how Venus and Serena became tennis superstars is an inspirational tale, and even though the film does have its fair share of heavier moments, the film as a whole is an easy watch. Even though most of the film will make the viewer feel good, the hard-hitting emotional moments in King Richard are the film’s finest moments. Scenes like the one where Richard and his wife Brandi (Aunjanue Ellis) argue in the kitchen about Richard’s past or the scene where Richard yells at the people from social services are two of the film’s most powerful moments. Oh, and tissues are recommended because you may get a bit teary-eyed from time to time.

In terms of acting, I am completely onboard the Will Smith being nominated for Best Actor train. I always have liked Smith as an actor, but whenever he sinks his teeth into a meaty drama role, he shines the brightest. His performance as Richard Williams is easily his best since The Pursuit of Happiness. Smith is fully committed to this project, and you can see that from the opening scene until the end credits begin to roll.

Saniyya Sidney (Venus), Demi Singleton (Serena), and Auniqnue Ellis (Brandi) all bring their A-game to the project, especially Ellis, who delivers one hell of a supporting performance as Richard’s wife, Brandi. While Ellis doesn’t have nearly as much screen time as Smith or Sidney, she elevates every scene. Her scenes are so good that I wouldn’t be surprised if she ends up getting nominated for Best Supporting Actress by several major awards organizations. 

While I will fully admit that much of what happens in King Richard is pretty predictable, it doesn’t take away from how inspiring the overall story is. It is also important to note how incredibly refreshing it is to see a film that celebrates following your dreams and isn’t centered around white people. King Richard is the kind of film that I love seeing big studios taking chances on. The relatable story is likely to resonate with pretty much anyone who buys a ticket while the film itself elevates marginalized voices. King Richard is a win/win for WB, and I can only hope that other major studios will tell more stories like Venus and Serena’s in the near future.

Overall, King Richard is the type of awards film that critics and audiences alike will flock to. While the film has the potential of being nominated in several different categories, I do believe Smith is a lock for Best Actor. I can see this film being nominated for Best Supporting Actress and possibly even Best Picture, but it’s way too early right now to tell. I will say, however, that King Richard will be hard to top as the most digestible out of all the films currently in the awards conversation.

Scott Menzel’s rating for King Richard is an 8 out of 10. 

Written by
Born in New Jersey, Scott Menzel has been watching film and television since he was three years old. Growing up, he watched as many movies as he could and was highly influenced by the films of Tim Burton, John Hughes, Robert Zemeckis, and Steven Spielberg. Scott has an Associate's Degree in Marketing, a Bachelor's in Mass Media, Communications, and a Master's in Electronic Media. He has been writing film reviews under the alias of MovieManMenzel since 2003 and started his writing career as a contributing critic at and In 2009, Scott launched where he posted several of his film reviews but in 2011 decided to shut down the site when he launched We Live In 2015, We Live Film became We Live Entertainment. The domain name change occurred after months of debate but was done so that he and his fellow staff members could write about anything and everything in the world of entertainment.

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