Week in film and streaming April 20
The Academy Awards will be handed out next Sunday, April 25. Given the way the various film organizations have already voted, there does not appear to be much suspense. It has been an unusually weak year, the pandemic notwithstanding, and feature films have been relatively unimportant for most viewers.
The couchbound have turned instead to multipart streaming stories like Queen’s Gambit and The Crown. These works have sophisticated production values equal to or better than Hollywood’s best efforts. They lack larger-than-life explosive visual effects, and endless commercials and trailers before the movie begins.
Even so, here are my fearless and usually inaccurate predictions of the winners in the four most important categories:
For Best Director and Best Picture, Chloe Zhao and Nomadland have swept the field and there’s no reason to expect that to change. The film is excellent and Ms. Zhao created impressive visuals on a properly modest budget. Any other year star/co-producer Frances McDormand might be a front runner for Best Actress, but in 2021, she’s a long shot.
Viola Davis’s fearless performance in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom was the favorite. But some experts (huh?) are predicting that Carey Mulligan, in the overrated Promising Young Woman, is ahead of the field. I’m sticking with Ms. Davis. (For my money, this is the most competitive category. It usually is.)
The late Chadwick Boseman will almost certainly receive the Best Actor award for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. It will be essentially a Life Achievement award, given his too-brief career that combined serious dramatic work with respected commercial hits.