One Night in Miami

This is a monumental film that has Oscar dripping from it on multiple levels.

One Night in Miami

Written by Kemp Powers and based on his stage play, this is a film that has mesmerizing significance.  Director Regina King, coming off her Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in If Beale Street Could Talk (2018), could make cinematic history by winning one in this category.

The film centers on four famous people meeting in a Miami motel room in 1964 to honor Cassius Clay for defeating Sonny Liston and becoming the heavyweight champion of the word that very day.  Besides Cassius the others include Malcolm X, football great Jim Brown and the popular singer Sam Cooke.

The four carry on devastating conversations about race in America and how to confront it.  The debate becomes personal at times and Malcolm X and Cooke nearly come to blows.

But it is the performances that rise to a level seldom equaled on the big screen.  To being with Kingsley Ben-Adair brings Malcolm X alive as an incredibly smart, acerbic man whose challenge to white America will result in his assassination a year later.

While Aldis Hodge’s portrayal of Jim Brown shows a man determined to have financial success in life even if he has to play second fiddle to white colleagues, you will never forget the performances of Eli Goree as Cassius and Leslie Odom, Jr., as Sam Cooke.  Mr. Goree captures Cassius magic as he entertains in the boxing ring and then finds the courage to convert to Islam with the name Muhammed Ali. He never forgot how to “float like a butterfly and sting like a bee.”

But it is Mr. Odom who in many ways dominates the film with both his singing and his determination to defy Malcolm X and follow his own path to success.  If that meant singing to largely white audiences, so be it.  He follows up his great role as Aaron Burr in Hamilton (2020) as well as helping to make Harriet (2019) a historically significant film.

While racial discrimination continues to play a role in our society to this very day, this film serves as a reminder to never forget our national pledge, “All men are created equal.”