Analysis: Will ‘Emancipation’ set Will Smith free from ‘the slap?’

Analysis by Lisa Respers France, CNN

Are you working on your New Year’s resolutions yet?

I’ve got some things I definitely want to do better next year. And as a matter of fact, I’ve already started implementing some of what I want to establish in 2023.

What will not change is my needing – and enjoying – all of the content I can get to.

So, let’s go!

Three things to watch


Will Smith (center) in a scene from "Emancipation."

This film, based on the true story of a slave seeking to escape a 19th-century Louisiana plantation, was once talked about as potentially earning its star Will Smith an Oscar for best actor.

Except that was before his win in that same category at this year’s Academy Awards for his portrayal of Richard Williams, father of tennis superstars Venus and Serena Williams, in “King Richard.” Unfortunately, that achievement was overshadowed after Smith slapped presenter Chris Rock earlier in the show.

Smith has been banned from attending the Oscars for the next decade, but he is still eligible for nominations. While I think it’s way too soon for the Academy to consider that, what people really want to know is whether his performance in “Emancipation” will be enough to blot out the bruise the slap left on his reputation.

“Emancipation” is streaming on Apple TV+ now.

‘Harry & Meghan’

An emotional scene from the Netflix documentary "Harry & Meghan."

The Brits do love their tea and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex look ready to spill some.

I’m not sure any docuseries has been more anticipated or debated than this new Netflix release, which allows Harry and Meghan to share their version of the soap opera that was their lives while members of the royal family – and in the years since they stepped back from “the firm.”

Definitely hang the “do not disturb” sign to binge this one uninterrupted. The first three episodes of “Harry & Meghan” are streaming on Netflix now.

‘Idina Menzel: Which Way to the Stage?’

Idina Menzel attends the American Music Awards on November 20, 2016 in Los Angeles.

Something has changed within Idina Menzel, something is not the same.

That’s because she not only had the opportunity to live out her dream of playing famed New York City venue Madison Square Garden during a 2018 concert tour, but there’s also now a documentary about it.

Don’t let the title worry you, she did not get lost along the way. Instead, “Which Way to the Stage?” allows those who have followed Menzel’s career to come along for the ride on one of her biggest triumphs.

The documentary is streaming on Disney+ now.

Two things to listen to

Sza performs during the 2022 Global Citizen Festival on September 24 in Accra, Ghana.

We are finally getting a new album from SZA.

It’s been a minute since 2017’s “Ctrl,” not that she didn’t bless us with music here and there, including her infectious 2021 duet with Doja Cat, “Kiss Me More.”

But really, those tracks just left us wanting more! So here it is: SZA’s new album, “SOS,” also features some big names, including Travis Scott, Phoebe Bridgers and the late rapper Ol’ Dirty Bastard.

“SOS” is out now.

A Boogie wit da Hoodie performs at the Rolling Loud Los Angeles festival on December 15, 2019 in Los Angeles.

Speaking of rap, A Boogie wit da Hoodie is back with a new album.

Titled “Me Vs. Myself,” it features a collaboration with fellow rapper Kodak Black that serves as a sequel to their 2017 hit, “Drowning.”

He’s not the only guest artist, either, as H.E.R., Lil Durk, Roddy Ricch, Troy Lanez and G Herbo are all featured on the record.

“Me Vs. Myself” is also out now.

One thing to talk about

(From left) Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds attend the 36th Annual American Cinematheque Awards on November 17 in Los Angeles.

I really want to be annoyed by how adorable Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds are, but they make it really hard not to love them.

Case in point: Reynolds recently shared a too-cute photo of his very-pregnant wife, clad in adorable festive pajamas, as the famous couple posed with some major Christmas celebs.

“We met Jessica Claus and her husband on the Polar Express,” Reynolds wrote in the caption of his Instagram post. “She was everything I’d always dreamed since I was a kid. She smelled like cinnamon buns and sangria.”

He also paid a sweet tribute to his wife and family when he received the Icon Award at the 2022 People’s Choice Awards, which aired this week.

OK, so who do we have to talk to to get Reynolds wrapped up under the tree on December 25?

Get on that please, Kris Kringle.

Something to sip on

Nick Cannon attends an event at the GRAMMY Museum on June 25 in Los Angeles.

Nick Cannon shared his grief and vulnerability this week in an emotional Instagram post marking the one-year anniversary of the death of his son, Zen.

Zen, Cannon’s son with model Alyssa Scott, who is currently expecting another child with “The Masked Singer” host, died as an infant after suffering from brain cancer.

“Losing a child has to be the heaviest, most dark and depressive experiences that I will never get over,” he wrote. “A mixture of guilt, pain, and sorrow is what I suppress daily.”

With his transparency, Cannon displayed what I have often mentioned as one of the most important parts of a celebrity’s platform – raising the visibility of topics that can help others.

By going public with his pain, I would like to think that Cannon is helping some other parent somewhere feel less alone.

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