The Film Fix: Oscar predictions plus What’s Streaming in April

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By JONATHAN W. HICKMAN, Special to The Paper

Below is our 2021 Oscar predictions as well as reviews and capsules of various films this month in theaters and/or streaming. Review rating … A “Fix” is recommended with a rating between 6 and 10. A “No Fix” is not recommended with a rating between 1 to 5.

2021 Oscar Predictions

The 93rd Academy Awards will be handed out live on Sunday, April 25th. The COVID delayed ceremony promises to be as normal as possible, although some virtual appearances by the stars are likely.

Eight films vie for the best picture honor this year. Of the diverse field of nominees, the leader has to be “Nomadland.” The moody, utterly American feature stars Frances McDormand as a widow who takes to the open road living in her van and working odd jobs. “Nomadland” received six nominations, including for McDormand as best actress and Chloé Zhao for best director; both are frontrunners in those categories. Look for “Nomadland” to be the big winner of the evening.

In the acting categories, the late Chadwick Boseman will likely be posthumously awarded best actor for his exemplary work in the excellent August Wilson adaptation “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” This choice will come at the expense of Anthony Hopkins, who was never better in “The Father.”

As mentioned earlier, McDormand may pick up her third award for acting, but she does face fierce competition from Carey Mulligan, who wowed viewers in “Promising Young Woman.”

A surprise performance of 2020 was Paul Raci’s thoughtful turn in “Sound of Metal,” where he plays a deaf Vietnam veteran who runs a home for others like him. A virtual unknown before this role, the 72-year-old drew on his life growing up with deaf parents and his own experiences serving in Vietnam. It’s a standout performance.

And while Raci may have given us one of the year’s most special surprises, in the best-supporting actress category, many were captivated by newcomer Maria Bakalova’s comedic work opposite Sasha Baron Cohen in “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm.” In fact, Bakalova stole the movie in many ways, playing Borat’s desperate and resourceful daughter. The best-supporting actress field is one of the most competitive in years, with former winner Olivia Coleman and seven-time nominee Glenn Close as solid contenders.

Watch the Oscars on ABC starting at 8 p.m., Sunday, April 25.

Streaming Selects

NETFLIX

Synchronic (April 16) Fix Rating 7/10 – After finding success with low-budget science fiction movies (see 2017’s “The Endless”), co-directors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead step up their game with the intriguing time-travel thriller “Synchronic.” They get a big help from a winning cast with Anthony Mackie and Jamie Dornan playing New Orleans paramedics who stumble onto a new drug that might allow addicts to visit the past and the future. This smallish feature is worth your, well, time.

DISNEY PLUS

Falcon and the Winter Soldier: (new episodes every Friday) Fix Rating 7/10 – After the departure from the norm with the first few episodes of “WandaVision,” the MCU firmly returned with “Falcon and the Winter Soldier.” The weekly series is just what fans expect, and the chemistry between the two title heroes will delight viewers. Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan are great, and a new Captain America joins them, played well by Wyatt Russell.

HBO MAX

Godzilla vs. Kong: (streaming now and in theaters): Fix Rating 6/10 – With the tragic destruction related to Newnan’s devastating tornado, it’s difficult to watch the title titans stomp through a major city. But there’s no denying that there’s fun to be had in this bonkers expansion of Legendary’s MonsterVerse. Yes, Godzilla and Kong do fierce battle while also encountering a new threat.

HULU/SYFY

Devil May Care: (all seven episodes streaming now) Fix Rating 8/10 – This animated series is gleefully profane and hilarious. “Devil May Care” is a show that will appeal to fans of “Futurama,” and it’s every bit as edgy and keenly observant. From the warped mind of “Robot Chicken” creator Douglas Goldstein, “Devil May Care” follows the hapless Beans who finds himself in Hades running the Devil’s social media campaigns.

Arthouse Corner

French Exit: (Streaming and in theaters) Fix Rating 6/10 – Michelle Pfeiffer is excellent as Francis Price, an aging New York socialite whose money has nearly run out following her husband’s suspicious death. With her aimless, dutiful son, Malcolm (played by Lucas Hedges) in tow, she heads to a friend’s apartment in Paris. Once there, her depression manifests itself, hinting that a big crash is on the horizon. This unusual film is entertaining if also a bit hit or miss.

The Human Voice: (limited theatrical) Fix Rating 7/10 – Oscar winner Tilda Swinton plays a woman on edge in writer/director Pedro Almodóvar’s 30-minute, experimental short film. The movie is almost exclusively Swinton, whose character is dealing with a bad breakup from her ex-lover. With his dog as her steadfast companion, the woman must come to grips with a new independent life. It’s a neat little project that’s playing in limited release coupled with an Almodóvar classic, 1988’s “Woman on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.”

Virtual Teasers

Mortal Kombat (streaming HBOMax and theatrical on April 23) – A reboot of the franchise based on the best-selling video game adapted for the screen back in 1995, “Mortal Kombat” (2021) hopes to get right what the first attempt failed to accomplish. The question is, will this movie use in some way the 1995 film’s popular theme music? The story follows an MMA fighter (played by Lewis Tan) who must assemble the Earth’s greatest champions to participate in an epic battle with the universe hanging in the balance.

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Jonathan W. Hickman is an entertainment attorney, filmmaker, college professor, and novelist. More about Jonathan can be found by visiting: filmproductionlaw.com. Folks can also follow him at dailyfilmfix.com.

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