King Richard: Green’s Biopic, Starring Will Smith–Oscar Contender

In contrast to other biopics this year, Green’s “King Richard” takes the long view. The sports drama about the making of tennis champions Venus and Serena Williams, who executive produced, focuses on their father, Will Smith’s Richard Williams, and the family dynamics that contributed to the women’s success and stress.

Green, the Bronx-born baseball-playing son of a Black father and a Puerto Rican mother, identifies with the Williams family.

“My dad would sit in his car parked at an angle in the outfield so he could get a good vantage point to see me at home plate,” he says.

Green drew from that father-son connection, saying: “My father demanded excellence. But he did it with a sense of care and protection for his boys, and a deep sense of pride. I could relate to those traits in Richard. I could relate to a man who was using the tools he had to do the best he could. Not always perfect. But always in pursuit of perfection.

As for working in the constraints of historical fiction, he says, “in this case, it’s a biopic told through the perspective of a father who had a plan for his daughters. And it’s only enhanced by the family who quickly show us one man didn’t accomplish this alone … they’re the spine to Richard’s plan. Without them, there’s no story.”

Another priority for Green was depicting a variety of images of Black Americans on screen.

“I never saw this as a ‘get out of Compton’ story, I always saw it as a ‘We’re from Compton’ story. It’s an important distinction because you can move on from where you grew up but be proud of that very place that help to shape you into the individual you are today. The Williams wear Compton as their armor in the world.

The Williams family comes across as both unique and universal. “It’s important to see Black life in a raw and unflinching manner, and one that shows the beautiful people we are,” Green says. “The Williams [family embodies] this beauty in everything they do, especially with how they carry themselves on and off the court, with grace and humility, Their legacy will be far greater than what they proved they can do to a ball with a tennis racket. It’s impossible to not want to root for a family that moves through life the way the Williams do.”

A very different family holds Scott’s focus in “The House of Gucci.” Greed, betrayal and materialism form the holy trinity of his salty star-studded true crime based on Sara Gay Forden’s nonfiction bestseller “The House of Gucci: A Sensational Story of Murder, Madness, Glamour and Greed.”

Miranda looks back with tenderness, sorrow and song at “Rent” composer Jonathan Larson (Andrew Garfield). On a Netflix video interview, he says: “This is not one of those biopics where you see the Mozart writing his masterpiece. This is a movie about failure and getting back up, and his masterpiece is ahead of him.”

With subjects from Diana to Lucy to Larson, from the Williams family to the Guccis, this year’s dynamic directors sift history’s dust to create juicy life in all its chaos and connections — both where we went off the rails and where we aced our goals. As novelist Mantel suggests, facts aren’t emotional truth. The challenge is unpeeling and unpacking the hidden thoughts, motives, dreams and desires of past players to tell stories that capture the audience. The characters mustn’t just live and breathe but bicker and brood, create and procreate. They must take on their own energy and, like Stewart in “Spencer,” they must soar.