kingrichard

Will Smith receives major NBR honor as Oscars race heats up

Will Smith plays the father of Serena and Venus Williams in King Richard

Will Smith has been awarded best actor from the National Board of Review, kickstarting his trek towards the 2022 Oscars.

MORE: Oscars 2022: The best actress race may be a battle of the biopics

The actor, who won for his work in King Richard, has been praised by fans for his role as Richard Williams, the father of tennis legends Serena and Venus Williams.

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WATCH: See the trailer for Serena and Venus Williams' film King Richard

The NBR also gave best supporting actress to Aunjanue Ellis who plays Oracene ‘Brandy’ Williams, Richard’s wife in the film.

Paul Thomas Anderson's Licorice Pizza picked up best film and best director, and its stars Alana Haim and Cooper Hoffman shared the breakthrough performance award.

MORE: Spencer review: Kristen's majestic Diana is an awards frontrunner

MORE: House of Gucci review: Gaga sparkles in real-life bad romance

Ciarán Hinds won best supporting actor for Belfast and Rachel Zegler, the Hollywood newcomer who won rave reviews for Steven Spileberg's West Side Story, picked up best actress. Her win comes less than 72 hours after the film first screened and buzz began.

"Shout outs to @rachelzegler & @ArianaDeBose who CRUSH it in this film," shared one critic on Monday, as another tweeted: "I don't know how Rachel Zegler pulled off that good a debut."

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The film is Rachel's first

"I can’t wait to see Rachel Zegler and Ariana DeBose’s careers explode after this," raved one critic as others called the actress the "standout" of the film.

The 2022 awards season launched on Monday at the Gotham Awards, with Kristen Stewart - who has been considered a shoo-in for a nomination since Spencer debuted at the Venice Film Festival - receiving a special honor.

Her work as Princess Diana in Pablo Larrain's haunting film - which HELLO! gave five stars - has been critically acclaimed.

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Kristen has been coy when discussing the possibility of her first Oscar nomination

Jennifer Hudson, Lady Gaga, Nicole Kidman and Olivia Colman are all also considered to be frontrunners for best actress at the 2022 Oscars.

The NBR is made up of select film enthusiasts, filmmakers, professionals, academics, and students, but it typically doesn't predict Oscars' winners. However, the accolades help with buzz and keep an actor's name in the race.

The honorees will be celebrated at the NBR Awards Gala on January 11, 2022.

2022 NBR winners: 

Best Film: Licorice Pizza (MGM/United Artists Releasing)

Best Director: Paul Thomas Anderson, Licorice Pizza (MGM/United Artists Releasing)

Best Actor: Will Smith, King Richard (Warner Bros.)

Best Actress: Rachel Zegler, West Side Story (20th Century Studios)

Best Supporting Actor: Ciarán Hinds, Belfast (Focus Features)

Best Supporting Actress: Aunjanue Ellis, King Richard (Warner Bros.)

Best Adapted Screenplay: Joel Coen, The Tragedy of Macbeth (Apple Original Films/A24)

Best Original Screenplay: Asghar Farhadi, A Hero (Amazon Studios)

Breakthrough Performance: Alana Haim and Cooper Hoffman, Licorice Pizza (MGM/United Artists Releasing)

Best Directorial Debut: Michael Sarnoski, Pig (Neon)

Best Animated Feature: Encanto (Walt Disney Pictures)

Best Foreign Language Film: A Hero (Amazon Studios) – Iran

Best Documentary: Summer of Soul (… Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised) (Searchlight Pictures)

NBR Freedom of Expression Award: Flee (Neon)

Best Ensemble: The Harder They Fall (Netflix)

Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography: Bruno Delbonnel, The Tragedy of Macbeth (Apple Original Films/A24)

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