One of the big awards season question marks has been answered. Regina King’s “One Night in Miami” will campaign Kingsley Ben-Adir, who plays Malcolm X in the period drama and Eli Goree, who plays Cassius Clay, in the best actor race. His co-stars Aldis Hodge (Jim Brown) and Leslie Odom, Jr. (Sam Cooke) will seek consideration in best supporting actor.
Debuting at the Venice Film Festival in late August, the Amazon Studio release follows an evening between the four historical men in February 1964. In awards campaign circles, there’s been talk about who is the ultimate “lead” of the movie. You could make the argument that all actors are supporting or lead. But the current category placement makes sense for its awards strategy.
With Ben-Adir squaring off in the lead race, he’ll be looking to compete in an already stacked field that includes Anthony Hopkins (“The Father”), Delroy Lindo (“Da 5 Bloods”) and Gary Oldman (“Mank”). While admittedly in the conversation, this has opened things up considerably for Odom, who is sensational as Cooke. With an added caveat of being in the running for best original song—for writing and performing “Speak Free”—the “Hamilton” actor could land two Oscar nomination next year (he’s already won a Grammy and a Tony on his road to becoming an EGOT).
Goree and Hodge will surely have their supporters but the former definitely has more of a mountain to climb, and will be looking for his ability to break through, if possible. When it comes to Hodge, there could be some room for more than one of them to possibly join the fray a la “Bugsy” and “Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri,” which received two supporting actor nominations in their respective years.
Even with the campaign confirmation, the Academy has full autonomy to vote for an actor in any category they’d like. This was done for past nominees like Keisha Castle-Hughes for “Whale Rider” and Kate Winslet for “The Reader,” for which she won the Academy Award for best actress (even though The Weinstein Co. tried to campaign her in supporting to make room for her other lead role that year in “Revolutionary Road”).
Amazon Studios has put its full support behind the project as one of its big awards contenders. If Regina King is nominated for best director, she will be the first Black woman in the Oscars’ 93-year history to be recognized for that honor.