One Night In Miami Is Coming To The Criterion Collection

"One Night in Miami" was one of the better Oscar contenders last year in my very humble opinion, and now that opinion is being validated by none other than Criterion as they announced the Regina King-directed film as part of their December 2021 slate of releases. The title will hit Criterion Blu-Ray on December 7, 2021, and will come packaged with a bunch of bonus features, which is what you'd expect for any Criterion title.

The Whole Package

Criterion's release of "One Night in Miami" will feature a 4K digital transfer approved by Regina King with a 5.1 DTS sound mix. Bonus features include a conversation between King and filmmaker Kasi Lemmons, a conversation with King and screenwriter Kemp Powers, the conversation between King and Barry Jenkins done for The Director's Cut – A DGA Podcast, a feature on the sound design, and an essay by critic Gene Seymour, and new making-of featurettes with King, the actors, and the heads of the departments that brought this period film to life. 

Yet another worthy addition to the Criterion lineup. Also coming in December, they announced both "The Learning Tree" and a 4K transfer of "The Red Shoes," so cinephiles ... start saving those pennies.

Acclaimed But Still Underappreciated

The film is based on the real-life gathering of some of the most influential and talented people of the Civil Rights era. The story has Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, Sam Cooke, and Jim Brown confronting each other over their positions during a period of unprecedented change and upheaval. The film is based on a play of the same name, and while it is a fictional account of this very contentious evening, there's a ring of truth to the personas we all recognize. 

The cast is outstanding. Leslie Odom Jr., in particular, stands out as Sam Cooke, who is conflicted because he views his success in the white world as being the exact kind of change Malcolm X is trying to achieve while also recognizing that one Black performer's success doesn't mean equality for everyone of color. It's also a beautifully shot and paced film and the script is very sharp. 

In short, "One Night in Miami" is essentially the ideal quasi-biographical Oscar-bait kind of movie, and yet it kinda got shut out of last year's admittedly bizarre awards ceremony. The film was only nominated for three awards: Best Adapted Screenplay for Kemp Powers, Best Supporting Actor for Leslie Odom Jr., and Best Original Song for "Speak Now" by Sam Ashworth and Leslie Odom Jr. 

While it is bizarre that Regina King was overlooked and the film itself didn't make the cut for Best Picture consideration, it looks like its legacy as a top drama will be cemented by this Criterion release. The label will have fun and release the odd "Armageddon" or "RoboCop," but for the most part, it's essentially a spine-numbered film school. They treat all their releases as preservationists, doing their best to make sure these films are never lost to the grind of time.