Song of the Day #4,675: ‘A Change is Gonna Come’ – Leslie Odom Jr.

Continuing my personal list of Oscar nominations with a look at the Best Supporting Actor race.

Kingsley Ben-Adir – One Night in Miami

I could have dedicated four of these five slots to the cast of One Night in Miami, but I limited myself to just two. Ben-Adir earned one of those for his thoughtful portrayal of Malcolm X. Standing in the shadow of Denzel Washington’s towering performance in Spike Lee’s epic biopic, Ben-Adir manages to make this role his own, highlighting the man behind the legend. We see Malcolm as a husband and father, a nerdy camera buff, a friend. But in several exchanges, we also see the fiery orator who stirred a revolution.

Daniel Kaluuya – Judas and the Black Messiah

Gotta love an Oscar lineup that includes both Malcolm X and Fred Hampton. Kaluuya has been running away with awards for this performance, making him one of the only sure bets on Oscar night, and he deserves every one of them. We first got a glimpse of his large, expressive eyes in the wonderful Get Out, and here he uses them to great effect once again in both Hampton’s loudest and quietest moments. He expertly mimics Hampton’s speaking voice but it’s those eyes, and the way he uses his body, that really sells the part.

Leslie Odom Jr. – One Night in Miami

Could any other actor have played Sam Cooke? Who but Leslie Odom Jr. has both the acting and musical chops to portray one of history’s greatest singers? But as great as he is in the movie’s musical moments, Odom Jr. earns this nomination for his splendid command of Kemp Powers’ insightful dialogue. He goes toe to toe with Ben-Adir’s Malcolm X and leaves the audience holding their breath waiting for the next pearl to drop. If he wins this award, Odom Jr. would be just the second performer to achieve the EGOT before the age of 40.

Paul Raci – Sound of Metal

No Oscar nomination made me happier than Raci’s for Sound of Metal. In a role he was born to play, the Vietnam vet son of deaf parents brings grit, compassion and total authenticity to counselor for the hearing-impaired and former addict Joe. Watching his scenes opposite Riz Ahmed, I felt like a fly on the wall in a real therapy session.

Mark Rylance – The Trial of the Chicago 7

I’ve written enough on the blog about why this film didn’t really work for me, but here’s a chance for me to mention one aspect that worked beautifully. Mark Rylance, as attorney William Kunstler, is the movie’s highlight, bringing equal parts wit and wisdom to the disheveled ringleader of this incendiary circus.

And the winner is… Leslie Odom Jr. I am 100% on board with Kaluuya winning the Oscar, and very tempted to give him the win myself, but Odom Jr.’s Sam Cooke is the performance I most want to revisit.

[Verse 1]
I was born by the river
In a little tent
Oh, and just like the river
I’ve been runnin’ ever since

It’s been a long
A long time comin’, but I know
A change gon’ come
Oh, yes it will

[Verse 2]
It’s been too hard livin’
But I’m afraid to die
‘Cause I don’t know what’s up there
Beyond the sky

It’s been a long
A long time comin’, but I know
A change gon’ come
Oh, yes it will

[Verse 3]
I go to the movie
And I go downtown
Somebody keep tellin’ me “don’t hang around”

It’s been a long
A long time comin’, but I know
A change gon’ come
Oh, yes it will

Then I go to my brother
And I say, “Brother, help me please”
But he winds up
Knockin’ mе
Back down on my knees
Lor’, there been time that I thought
I couldn’t last for long
But now I think I’m ablе to
Carry on

It’s been a long
Along time comin’, but I know
A change gon’ come
Oh, yes it will

3 thoughts on “Song of the Day #4,675: ‘A Change is Gonna Come’ – Leslie Odom Jr.

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    Rylance is an interesting choice, but Sacha Baron Cohen totally deserves the nomination for embodying Abbie Hoffman. And you can’t simultaneously discount his performance because he is imitating a real person while lauding Daniel Kaluuya (and for that matter Odom, Rylance and a few others you have highlighted) for doing the same.

    This is a strong category, and I would be happy with any of those actually nominated winning, including LaKeith Stanfield, who I agree should have been nominated for best actor, but still deserves recognition regardless.

  2. Peg says:

    I totally agree with Odom! Loved this film! Just realized actor Aldis Hodge is one of the stars in the series City on a Hill that we are watching now. Wonderful film and amazing performances!

  3. Amy says:

    This category could be filled with actors from two films – One Night in Miami (I agree with your two picks, esp.) and Trial of Chicago 7, where there are a half dozen performances worthy of consideration, though my favorite was Eddie Redmayne, who had me digging into Tom Hayden’s history. In addition to those three, I’d include (and, ultimately, award) Kaluuya, and I might add Lucas Hedges for going toe to toe with a ship full of extraordinary actresses in Let Them All Talk.

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