Saturday, March 31, 2018


What I’ve Been Watching
Here and Now  - family drama with Tim Robbins and Holly Hunter as the hippy/new age parents, a little mysticism. Started off with premise but going downhill fast.
Walking Dead – latest series, really dragging and was starting to lose faith in it, started reading the graphic novels and they are so much better. The most recent episode gave me hope, but something has to give.
Call the Midwife S7 – a shorter series than usual, with a lot of the main leads left, but it still continues with compelling and quality stories. An old faithful.
Victoria S1 – Gave this a second go, and didn’t mind it. More soap operay and light, but that’s ok. Jenna Coleman and Tom Hughes as Queen Victoria and Prince Albert as lovely, and I really enjoyed the steam engine/progress back stories.
Brittannica S1 – the new Game of Thrones, well not really. Set in 43AB when Romans invaded Britain. Some great fight and mystical sequences, at times the plot is difficult to follow, but then I thought that with the original series of GoT. Def sticking around for S2, but at this point, good as it is, it falls short.
Billions S2 – this is a great cat and mouse drama. Bobby Axelrod (Damian Lewis) is a hedge fund owner who just manages to walk on a the thin line of good/bad...or does he. Chuck Rhoades is the US Attorney  trying to catch him and this season he gets closer and closer. Great performances from both men and Maggie Siff as the wife of Rhoades AND the psychiatrist/coach of Axelrod.
Better Call Saul  S3 – Love this show, characters well known in Breaking Bad – Gus and Mike – are starting to form. Jimmy and his brother are still at odds and the catalyst to his change to Saul starts to take place. Bob Odenkirk shines here, but really the entire cast is great.
Better Things S1 – Pamela Adlon is everything in this comedy/drama about Sam, a single Mum of three girls. Sam juggles the house, her girls, her friends, and her acting career while on the look out for a man. Hilarious, real, stunning. Not a lot happens, but everything does. Adlon shines in this, I dare not not to adore her. I do. One of the best shows on tv!
Divorce S2 – this season has a better balance of comedy and pathos, and you really do love both leads, Frances (Sarah Jessica Parker) and Robert (Thomas Haden Church). This season, the kids grow a little older and more angsty and difficult, Frances starts to date and Robert gets engaged! The supporting cast also shine, including Amy Sedaris as Robert’s bitch sister. The scene between Frances and her (good friends in real life) was one of the greatest fight scenes I have ever seen!
Upstart Crow S1 – Welcome back Ben Elton, a huge return to form after a few decades of non-funny. This is a great period drama – in the vein of Blackadder – about Shakespeare. Shakespeare (played brilliantly by David Mitchell) divides his time writing in the city and back home with his family in the country. You don’t have to be a huge fan of Shakespeare to enjoy this, but if you are – like me – you will absolutely love it. It is my favourite show at the moment and makes me laugh out loud, a rarity!!!!
Bargain Hunt – is my other favourite show. Two couples are given 300 pounds and an expert in antiques at an antique fair and are to find three pieces to auction. Couple to make the most money wins. SImple, interesting, loads of great – and not so great – antiques.
What I’ve Been Reading
Down and Out in Paris and London – George Orwell – this is Orwell’s first book, a memoir in fact. He tells of his time living on the poverty line in Paris in the late 20s and early 30s. Paris is fascinating, as he works in cafes and restaurants. London is more about who he meets as he travels about trying to get work and make money. It is an interesting look at life without much and I think helped shape his early style of writing.
Detours – Tim Rogers – this is a great(ish) memoir by You Am I frontman. Rogers can spin a tale, as you would know if you ever paid attention to his lyrics. Self confessed dilettante, raconteur, and flaneur, I loved so much of this book, which really is the inner being of this renaissance man. It divides each chapter into parts of his life, his family, loves, travelling, sport. Not that much rock’n’roll, and a little too much sport for my liking, the later (middle section) of the book needing some editing. But it is where he lets his heart open and tells his stories raw, I melted. I know he’s a bugger, but I love him so. His stories of his Dad, and his new love, The Hurricane, just made me smile. His stories of the women he likes to chat to when he is out and about also warmed my heart. In a bar full of women, he’ll be drawn to the less showy, more chubby, generally older women – cause you know she’s got stories – rather than the younger, more traditionally beautiful women. His anxiety is crippling, his love of the stage (and alcohol and drugs) the only thing to push it away. He’d happily stay inside his little apartment solo than head out and about. I imagine there are a few more books in Tim, and I cannot wait for more.
David Sedaris – I’m finally reading Theft by Finding, diaries Volume 1 and it stars slow, in the 70s with innocuous diary entries, once he leaves home things get a little more interesting and you start to see the Sedaris humour start to evolve. The diaries entries are selective and possibly polished, but mostly as they were. I decided to re-read all his other books as I read this. So I started with Barrel Fever, which is mostly fiction and whilst well written and at times funny, they feel forced and too much going for shock value. His style is yet to evolve, thought you can see bits of it in the few essays at the end of the book. Non-fiction is definitely his thing. Holidays on Ice is really the showcase for what I call the Sedaris gateway drug – The Santaland Diaries – if you love this, and most do, you will love Sedaris. This compilation contains holiday tales, all funny, but none are near the dizzy height of Santaland – the tales of Sedaris as an elf at Macys one Christmas. Naked is where Sedaris starts to form his style, with his childhood stories, equal parts devastating and hilarious. Not that’s a fine line, but he walks it well. Sedaris is one of the few writers that always makes me laugh out loud. I guess he’s not for everyone, but you’ll never know if you do not try. Start with Santaland and then Naked!
The Best Australian Essays 2017 – edited by Anna Goldsworthy – a lot of these I had read in The Monthly or The Saturday Paper, but there was a few new ones and ones I wanted to re-read. A lot of focus on the Australian environment thematically.
Planet Elephant – Tammie Matson – the follow up book to the spoken word the other month. Now married and with a small child, Tammie and her husband tag team their environmental responsibilities with childhood. Asia and Africa and back to Australia in between. Mostly about Tammie’s work with elephants and villages/people in Asia but so much more.
Nevermoor: the trials of Morrigan Crow – Jessica Townsend – this has just won the ABIA book of the year, first time a children’s book has done so. I have had a copy for ages, so figured I had better see what the fuss was about. It has been a huge deal before winning this and touted as the new Harry Potter. Many before have had this bestowed upon them and most did not deserve it. This – an Australian book – does deserve the title. Whilst a kids book, I think most teens and adults who love fantasy will love this. Follows the trials of Morrigan Crow, a young girl who is unfortunate enough to be born on a day that prophesises she will die on her 12th birthday. But she is rescued just in the nick of time by a strange man, who takes her to a realm never heard of. More fabulous and fantastic than the dismal world she lived in. There she has to go through some trials for her strange benefactor, who seems to be up to something and know something about her, but he doesn’t divulge. A little bit Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, a little bit Hunger Games, a little bit Harry Potter. This was a page turner, well written, with great characters – good and bad, an ever changing delightful world and a cool female lead!
What I’ve Been Listening to
Utopia – Bjork – really loved this, but then I always love Bjork!
Synthesis – Evanescence – new album but mostly reworked versions of older songs, a lot orchestrated and sounding lush. Excellent album.
Women of the Hour S2 – this is Lena Dunham’s podcast and she lines up a remarkable group of women to tell their stories in each hour. Loved!
Richard Fidler, Conversations -  I have a USB filled with heaps of Conversations I have been listening to in the car. Famous people, non famous people, they are all fascinating and have a story to tell. Fidler is the brainstrust here, his knowledge of seemingly everything is stunning. Outstanding listening and learning.

Monday, March 12, 2018


What I’ve Been Reading

The Walking Dead Graphic Novels – I have been enjoying reading these, very different to the show,  but good all the same
Vanity Fair – the one magazine I buy and therefore, I flip through when I buy them, but then they get stacked unread, so I am catching up. Always quality and interesting articles, from politics to history, to Hollywood and entertainment.
The New Yorker  - the other magazine I really love, but rarely buy because it is so expensive, but i got a really cheap sub deal for 3 months (gateway drug for sure!) and have been loving collecting them from the my letterbox each week. Super quality articles, interesting fiction, and a taste of my beloved New York.

Yeah, not much else, I have been very busy and lost my reading mojo so to speak., despite having a huge stack of interesting books to read.

What I’ve Been Watching

Scandal S4 – I do like this despite its melodramatic nature. The casting is solid, and the stories fun. I still don’t get Olivia Pope’s attraction to the president, to me that has been and always will be the weak link of the show. He is a dope, why?
Riverdale S1 – I really loved this remake of the Archie Comics. Sure its a teen show and it ain’t no Buffy, but it was light and fun, and Luke Perry is Archie’s Dad, so yay!
Nashville S6 -  total soap opera, but the music is great, sucked in and I don’t care, it’s fun.
Call the Midwife S7 – still a delight to watch, great stories and acting.
X-Files S2 (reboot) -  I love this show so much and the S1 reboot didn’t quite live up to expectations, S2 seems to be doing much better.
Britannica S1 – this is meant to be the new Games of Thrones, it isn’t but it IS good all the same. Set in the early Roman times, when they are raging over land.
Mosaic – this is a great murder mystery from Steven Soderburgh, starring Sharon Stones. HIghly recommend
Divorce S2 – a little less black than S1, this Sarah Jessica Parker and Thomas Haden Church comedy really grows on you, it beautifully written, very funny and worth watching
Better Things S1 –  I love this show so very much, takes a few episodes to get into. Focuses on Pamela Adlon as a single Mum of three girls, who is a jobbing actor with her crazy mother living next door. A poignant comedy, Adlon knocks it out the park. I cannot recommend this enough
No Activity S1/2 – this is a great little Australian cop comedy with Patrick Brammall and Darren Gilshenan on a perpetual stake out.
Masterpiece with Alan Titchmarsh – this may well be my favourite show on TV, essentially an antiques game show, with couples trying to pick the most expensive antique or guess prices. Each show has a section filmed in a grand estate home in England. Just swoonworthy homes and antiques really.
Viceroy’s House – quaint costume drama about the English in India, just before independence, with Gillian Anderson and Hugh Bonneville.
Marina Abramovic: the artist is present – I have been busting to see this documentary for ages, as I am a huge fan of the amazing performance artist. This documents her ground breaking show, The Artist is Present, and delves into her history, especially with her fellow performance artist and ex, Uri. If you want a taste of her life or don’t know much, this is a great way to find out about her. If you are a fan, this is everything, it is just wonderful!

What I’ve Been Listening To

Paul Kelly, Life is Fine –  this is really really really fine, quite lovely in fact. Kelly just gets better with age. That voice, those stories...
First Aid Kit, Drunken Trees EP – brilliant of course.
Neil Young, Hitchhikers – Young is pumping them out, def not his best, but still worth listening to
Beck, Colours – more pop than you’d expect, not bad.
U2, Brand New Day – dull as dishwater, oh Bono, what on earth happened!?
Paloma Faith, The Architect – loved this, excellent
Foo Fighters, Concrete and Gold – Thrashier than I would prefer, but still good.
Richard Fidler Podcasts - I rarely get to listen to these live, so have loaded up an USB and have been just loving each and every one of them, the famous, the not so famous, these hour interviews are fascinating, upsetting, hilarious, and everything and great company driving to and from work!


I love a visit to an Art Gallery or Museum, it is probably my most favourite way to spend time. In the past few years I have started a little thing where I head to Sydney to the NSW Art Gallery and meet my lovely cousin (and fabulous artist herself) for a morning or day of total art absorption.

About a month ago we planned to meet to see THREE exhibitions on one day. This was a tricky day to pull off, we're both super busy people and two of the exhibitions were finishing up and one starting and the overlap for all three at once was a week. But we did it, with my choosing Valentine's Day (for no real reason, in fact it didn't click until we'd locked it in) for a Galentine's Day of Art!

I love this trip down to Sydney, I catch the early train, sleep most of the way down, waking around Strathfield, before heading into Central, changing trains to St James and then that lovely 10 minute walk past Hyde Park and St Mary's, through the Domain to the Gallery.

First exhibition we went to was The Lady and The Unicorn. I knew a little bit about these old tapestries, but was completely overwhelmed by their size and beauty. Oh my goodness, 6 ginormous French tapestries from the 15th Century is very good condition and just beyond what you could even imagine.

So much to look at within each tapestry, we were there for quite a while, there was a small collection of matching pics and sculptures and an interesting video with the collection, but really the tapestries are all you want. This only just opened, and is totally worth the trip down. My photos couldn't even fit the entire pieces in let alone do them any kind of justice.

After such a sensory overload, morning tea was required!

Next stop, the biggie, Rembrandt and the Dutch Golden Age: Masterpieces from the Rijksmuseum. I must admit this is not a huge favourite, I find the pieces dark and gloomy. But yet, I love looking at all art, and so was fascinated by styles and techniques and was quite taken with a few of them. The ones I liked the most, bar the Vermeer which was just enchanting, were unknown painters to me.

This took some time to get through, so a late lunch was next.

Finally, we took in Robert Mapplethorpe's Pictures. I have always loved his photography, but after reading Patti Smith's Just Kids, really got to 'know' the man a bit more which amplifies the art itself. This was a great collection, from his early work to the popular and well known pieces and the last things he took which were quite stunning. Looking at some, you might think what is the big deal until you see the date he took them, he was a groundbreaker in many ways. His work of high importance.

As always we ended up in the shop, doing a little art purchasing.

Then we bid our goodbyes, and I headed back off to the train and home. My heart and soul fed and satisfied, was the perfect mid week break!

Saturday, March 10, 2018


Well, I tied with 2009 and 2014 for my highest amount of predictions correct this year. That is to say I got 20 out of 24 categories correct.

Pretty impressive.

I got Short film, animated and live action wrong - no surprises, they are a crap shoot, you never can tell.

I got documentary wrong, I really thought Faces Places would win, as would a lot of others based on cranky post show posts lol.

And I have never been so happy to get Best Picture wrong. Don't get me wrong, I loved Three Billboard and thought it would win and deservedly so. However, I loved The Shape of Water so very much and wanted it to win, but didn't think it stood a chance. But joy of joy it did!

To re-read my predictions and thoughts, go here.

This years show seemed back on form after last years trainwreck. It sure doesn't have the thrill of it's hey day in the 90s with Billy Crystal. It has a little too much polish.

I find Jimmy Kimmel a little bland, but he knocked out a few decent jokes in his monologue. But there wasn't much I didn't like.

So here are my favourite moments:

Top moment of the night, without a word of doubt, was seeing the stunning Eva Marie Saint on stage, talking about her films. At 93 she glowed from a life well lived, she presented costume and spoke of her blue coat from On The Waterfront, where she acted along side Mr Marlon Brando (sigh) and her stunning costumes from North by Northwest, directed by Alfred Hitchcock and working with Mr Cary Grant (double sigh), her favourite was the black and red floral number, mine too Eva, mine too.

These lovely moments of old Hollywood are why I watch the Oscars and this was a perfect moment.

Also Rita Moreno, 86, and wearing a dress she wore to the 1962 Oscars, was a breath of fresh air. She has always looked fabulous, such is a dancers life!

Eddie Vedder singing Tom Petty's Room at the top was also stunning. A great song but a lost great, and Vedder's voice just gets better with age.

Mary J Blige singing was pretty brilliant.

The montages of winners were great, standing on the shoulders of giants...and a few mistakes...

And the fabulous 90 years of film montage, ending with that perfect ending from Casablanca with Claude Rains and Humphrey Bogart.

A lot of the presenters were bland, but that's not unusual. I loved the pairing of Tiffany Haddish and Maya Rudolph, people are saying they should host, hell to the yeah!

Jennifer Lawrence and Jodie Foster were fun, as were Helen Mirran and Jane Fonda. And Mark Hamill, how wonderful is his renaissance, follow him on Twitter, this is a truly great and generous man!

Some of the speeches this year were amazing, all the acting were great but the two stand outs were Frances "I've got some things to say" McDormand and Jordan Peele.

The joy shown for my favourite films The Shape of Water was stunning, and it made me happy and more than made up for the disappointment that was last years Oscars.

I still miss Billy and where is Jack Nicholson? I am worried about Jack, haven't seen or heard of him in years, I suspect something is gravely wrong. The Oscars are not the same with him in his sunnies in the front row grinning.

I cannot end the post without some fashion, this year there was much to choose from!!!!

Best dressed goes to Gal Gadot, in her flapper inspired silver. 
Go Wonder Woman!

I'm a little over blush tones, but these are pretty lovely all the same.

Shades of blue


A splash of colour

Black and white, black, white

The unusual

Sunday, March 4, 2018


As a film buff, I have always called The Oscars my religion!
Tongue-in-cheek, sorta, kinda...

My love is for all film, specifically silent and classic film, the gritty films of the 70s, 90s true indie films, foreign film, and documentaries.

With so much to draw from, it is very difficult to pick favourites. 

However, I love Casablanca, City Lights, North by Northwest, Manhattan, La Strada, Delicatessen, Some Like It Hot, Dog Day Afternoon, High Fidelity, Bringing Up Baby, The Royal Tennanbaums, The Big Lebowski, When Harry Met Sally, On the Waterfront, Singin' in the Rain, Magnolia, Roman Holiday, The Player and Midnight name a few, well you get the picture.

And it is because of my love of this amazing heritage that I love The Oscars. In recent years they have become staid and a little challenging, and after last years debacle I did wonder if my love of this day had wore out its welcome.

I miss the surprises of yesteryear, and with each passing year, the greats are no longer there to bring out and add a bit of history to the event. This year is the 90th anniversary, so I do have hopes of something historical and sentimental, you just never know. And I guess that is why I still watch them.

And so for the last 20 or so years (possibly more, I have no idea!) I try to predict who will win, this doesn't always equate to who I would like to win, so I offer up my alternatives. If there is no who should win, I don't have enough personal information to make that choice.

Since I have had my blog, I pop it up the day before for prosperity.

I am always keen for chatter about what I place here, so let me know if you agree or disagree and why!!!

So onto my predictions!

Best Picture

It is a tough year, so many films I love. I saw 7 of the 9 films nominated, missing out on Dunkirk and Call Me By Your Name. Both of those look pretty amazing from what I can see. So you have 9 superb films.

But the race is between The Shape of Water, and Three Billboards. A lot of punters are saying Get Out is a dark horse and look I love nothing better than a surprise and if that happens I would be totally blown away, but I suspect it will not.

Who will win: Three Billboards.
A week ago, this was a shoe-in, but The Shape of Water seems to be climbing the charts. The Academy doesn't do fantasy, sure Return of the King won, but that is a whole other realm to this. Three Billboards is a great film, ensemble cast, well written and so forth. It is totally deserving of the win and it the kind of film that does win. I am sticking to my guns with this! (But trust me it took a lot of deliberating to do so)

Who should win: The Shape of Water
This is my favourite film and I feel a far superior film to Three Billboards. Equally as wonderful ensemble cast, stunningly shot, fantasy but clever, people love it. I will be happy to be proven wrong in this category if this gets up and you will hear me squealing with joy all over The Hunter.


This is a great group of people, all deserved of the golden boy. But this is a simple one.

Who will win/Who should win: Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water
This is stunningly directed, his attention to detail magnificent. The story, the acting, the everything. It is his masterpiece thus far, and if you have seen Pan's Labyrinth, that is really saying something. 

Actress in a Leading Role

What a stunning line up. All totally deserving of winning. Sally Hawkins, in particular, not a single line in the movie, she shines without saying a word and that is really something. However...

Who will win/Who should win: Frances McDormand, Three Billboards
This is a tour de force performance from a tour de force actress. I have loved Frances since 1996, when she had the double whammy of Lone Star and Fargo, winning her first Oscar for the later. Since then she has just acted everyone else off the screen. She is unapologetic, real, brilliant, sassy, and no fucks given. And in a year where women are at the forefront of a reckoning, this is the woman to lead us. The performance in Three Billboards still stays with me, it was haunting, and crazy, and human, and real. I cannot wait to hear her acceptance speech.

Actor in a Leading Role

Again, a fine line up, but nothing comes close to...

Who will win/Who should win: Gary Oldman, Dunkirk
The actors actor, Gary is a solid character actor, and by god he is overdue. But still, this is his finest performance, anyone else could have gotten lost under all that makeup and prosthetics, but whilst you would never know at at glance who it was, every now and then little twinkle in his eye showed Mr Oldman. He held this film together, and should indeed win.

Actress in a Supporting Role

Oh my goodness, what a group of fine ladies but really it is between Laurie Metcalfe and Allison Janney. Two of the finest actresses around, if any year should have a tie, this is the one!

Who will win: Allison Janney, I, Tonya
Janney is superb in this role, scarily so. She has deservedly won ever other award she was up for and I cannot see it being any different tomorrow. I am thrilled to see CJ at the podium, so this is a no-brainer

Who should win:  Laurie Metcalfe, Lady Bird
However, I have a very soft spot for Metcalfe. She stole every scene from Roseanne, on Roseanne, and that's saying something. She has always shone in small parts on the big screen, and big parts on the stage. Respected and revered, she shows why in Lady Bird. She broke my heart in this film, she was simply outstanding, in a lovely understated way. If there was any upset I'd be happy with, this is it!

Actor in a Supporting Role

Again, a great list of remarkable performances from remarkable actors, but I see this only going one way!

Who will win/Who should win: Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards
So very good in so many films, a true character actor, he should have won previously for Moon. This is his year. This part, more than a supporting role, was layered with twists and nuances only he could play. I haven't seen anyone transform so much on screen as he does here. And not only that he holds his own and then some against the formidable McDormand. This is a force to be reckoned with, and most deserved.

Original Screenplay

This is the most difficult category to select, because every script is so very original and so very wonderful. It is the last category I have decided on and to be honest I am still totally unsure. There is always one category that stumps me and this year this is it.

Who will win/Who should win: Get Out
I think this is the only category where this film will get up. It IS the most original script, audacious and remarkable, it deserves to win, I want it to win, let's just see.

Adapted Screenplay

Only one film stands out here

Who will win/Who should win: Call me by your Name
I thought this before I realised the wonderful James Ivory was behind it. Perfection. That seals the deal!!

Animated Feature

Everyone probably knows my lack of enthusiasm for animation by now, unless it is Toy Story. So surprisingly I have seen none of the films, although Loving Vincent does sound remarkable. And my initial thought was that will win, until I did my research...

Who will win: Coco
Pixar, say no more, they rarely lose.

Who should win: Loving Vincent
Cause it looks really good and hello, Van Gogh!

Documentary Feature

I love this genre, but sadly have had no access to any of the films this year. So I did my research, and wow, I cannot wait to see all of them.

Who will win/Who should win: Faces Places
Firstly, I know of Agnes Varda well, although I do not think I have seen any of her documentaries. Secondly, this sounds like perfection. Surely she will win!

Foreign-Language Film

Again, seen none, and had to do my research, from what I have read, all fingers point to one fantastic film.

Who will win: A Fantastic Woman, Chile

Original Score

Have heard all four of the five, and the one that still resonates is The Shape of Water.

Who will win/Who Should win: The Shape of Water

Original Song

Again, no idea, so I did some research

Who will win: Remember Me, Coco
Honestly, I have no idea!

Sound Editing

This almost always goes to war films

Who will win:  Dunkirk

Sound Mixing

This almost always goes to music films or war films...

Who will win: Dunkirk

Who should win: Baby Driver

Make Up and Hairstyling

Who will win/Who should win: Darkest Hour
Pretty much a no-brainer

Costume Design

Who will win/Who should win: Phantom Thread
A film about stunning costumes, this should also be a no brainer.


This is difficult, a lot of great looking films

Who will win: Blade Runner 2049
All my research points towards this, plus other wins and it DID look amazing

Who should win: The Shape of Water was beautifully filmed

Production Design

Again, difficult

Who will win/Who should win: The Shape of Water
The attention to detail in every scene is astonishing, especially in Elisa's apartment. The whole thing was stunning and lush.

Film Editing

Another difficult one, anything could win.

Who will win: Dunkirk
Seems to be the frontrunner, plus War almost always wins.

Visual Effects

Who will win: Blade Runner 2049
Seems to be the likeliest contender

Documentary Short Subject

Who will win: Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405
No idea, but this sounds ok and a lot of people are predicting it!

Short Film, Live Action

Who will win: DeKalb Elementary
Seems to be between DeKalb and The Eleven O'Clock, but DeKalb Elementary about a school shooting, seems more timely.

Short Film, Animated

Who will win: Revolting Rhymes
No idea, seems to be between this, the Basketball one (but it is getting late backlash) and Garden Party. I'm going with Dahl!


Oscar Watch 2018, part 2 brings my five favourite films of the season.

The Shape of Water

Oh my, this is the most beautiful and the most stunning film. It is without a shadow of a doubt my favourite film of the season, and possibly (yeah it's super early) my film of the year.

I first came across Guillermo del Toro with the stunning Pan's Labyrinth, that fairy scene at the end of the bed is without a doubt, the most beautiful and amazing thing I think I have seen on screen. He also wrote and directed the Hellboy films, which I also love. He has this kinda fucked up vision, beauty and some bastardisation within that leaves you breathless and sometimes appalled, but always wanting more.

The Shape of Water takes it up a notch and then some. This is a whimsical, romantic film, set in the 50s. Elisa (the magnificent Sally Hawkins) is mute and works in a factory with her friend Zelda (the always lovely Octavia Spencer). The factory is always up to some kind of experiment and when a secret is delivered, Elisa cannot help but want to know more. 

The secret is a fish/man, discovered somewhere exotic, and is being used for tests. Elisa is kind to the beast, and begins to communicate with him. It's a slow build, beautifully constructed. We also get to know Elisa's neighbour, Giles (Richard Jenkins, never better) who is a gay man in his later years and just struggling with life. The three leads, Elisa, Zelda, and Giles, are decent people, layered and yet flawed, and work well together. 

Michael Shannon plays Richard the evil man who will use the Fishman to get what he wants. The back story here is cold war, experimentation, secretive 50s stuff!  So Elisa, Zelda, and Giles with the help of Dr Hoffstetler (Michael Stuhlbarg) a kindly scientist within the factory, decide to break the Fishman out and hide him until they can release him back into the wild.

And this is where the movie takes off, I won't divulge anymore, but suffice to say Elisa has fallen in love with Fishman.

The script and story are so very polished, the cinematography stunning, the set design whimsical and romantic and lush and gorgeous. The soundtrack is key. The acting outstanding, even the Fishman is so realistic you get the fantasy element. The supporting cast are actors I have always admired and will watch anything they do, but Sally Hawkins, who is an absolute star, she steals the show without saying a single word. It is truly a remarkable performance.

In any other year this should sweep every category. But this is an exceptional year, with great films and great performances. Also the Academy doesn't show much love for fantasy, which this is. I do think Del Toro will get Best Director, and there is momentum towards Best Picture, which I would love, but I cannot see that happening. 

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

This movie packs a punch and then some. A grieving mother (Frances McDormand) wants action from local police regarding her daughter's rape and murder. She puts up three billboards asking for said action. Loads of angst ensues.

We meet so many flawed and layered characters along the way. The supporting cast are so amazing in this. Woody Harrelson, Caleb Jones, Lucas Hedges, Peter Dinklage, and Sam Rockwell. Oh my, Sam Rockwell's character has more twists and turns of character than I have ever seen in a movie. He holds his own with McDormand and then some. He will win Best Supporting Actor.

And Frances, dear dear Frances, no fucks given ever anyway, but this role, this role is something else!!! What a remarkable role model, what a remarkable women, this role means so much in this political, feminist climate. I bawled through most of this movie, even when it wasn't sad, I just cried because I loved that character so much, unlovable as she actually was.

This is indeed a dramatic movie, with heavy heavy issues and scenes, and yet it is hilariously funny, darkly so. This is an outstanding movie, and should win Best Film and acting categories for Sam and Frances.

Get Out

I saw Get Out on video months ago! And I still think about it. It is difficult to talk about because spoilers and that commences early on in the film. You need to see the film. But basically it is about a young black man who is dating a white woman, and she takes him home to meet her parents. Not long after they arrive home you (the viewer) realise something is up, but you cannot put your finger on it. You go through a few bizarre scenarios (or at least I did) and things start to unravel and you realise things are worse than you even imagined.

They have called this a horror film, which is wrong. Horror is Amityville Horror and films like that, films I would never sit through. This film is real, but the reality of the film and consequences of some of the characters actions are horrific and scary and awful - cause it feels like this is something that could actually happen!

And I feel like I have said too much.

It is an important film, it will make you feel uncomfortable, but it is also entertaining, so very well written, filmed, and acted. It is truly worth seeing. Probably my second favourite film of the season.

Lady Bird

My love for Greta Gerwig is large and strong, and I just adored her directorial debut. There is something I relate to in the characters she portrays on the big screen, especially her delightful Frances Ha. I see a lot of me in her, awkward, honest, not quite understood, real, singled minded etc.

Lady Bird is based on her own life growing up, and you get a lot of the above! Saoirse Ronan plays the title character and nails it. She is as you would imagine Greta to be at 17.  Lady Bird has aspirations bigger than Sacramento, where she lives with her family. Those aspirations simultaneously lead her astray and ground her. 

Lady Bird is about knowing and yet now knowing where you need to be, the struggles of a 17 year old who is a little left of centre, her loves, friends, art and trying to love your family but needing space from them too.

The always brilliant Tracy Lett and Laurie Metcalfe play her parents and lend a great authenticity to the film. Metcalfe, in particular, could well be the star of the film with her equally strongminded and stoic portrayal of Lady Bird's mother.

So lovingly filmed, beautifully acted, funny, dramatic, strange, and pure solid. I also loved the soundtrack. Undeniably early 90s but not in a dated way. I do not think this will win much at the Oscars, which is a shame. This is a great film, just the competition this year is superb!

Phantom Thread

This is a divine period film about a designer, Reynolds (Daniel Day-Lewis in his final film role) living with his sister, Cyril (Lesley Manville) in 1950s London. He is precise in his work and in the way he lives his life. One day he meets Alma (Vicky Krieps) who is he enchanted with and she becomes his muse and eventually his lover.

Alma questions everything, including his manner and way things are done, she is a disruptive force that he initially resists, which causes angst on both parts. Things take a turn from there and many twists and turns are placed in this seemingly innocuous plot.

This is a Paul Thomas Anderson film after all, and things were not going to stay simple for long. An interesting script, and a scrumptious feast for the eyes, this is a very different but great film. The acting is superb, the costumes to die for. Again, this will probably not fair well, but may get up in Costume Design, but that is the competition this year.


My first post for Oscar Watch this year.

Every year I try to watch all (or at least as many as I can, it depends on what is showing) the nominated films prior to The Academy Awards to help me work out who I want to win and who will indeed win, quite often two very different trains of thought.

To be honest after last years Best Picture debacle and other issues surrounding the awards, I have wondered whether my time doing this was over, and yet here I am scheduling as many of these films into my spare time as I I guess not.

The Post
I read Katharine Graham's autobiography about 20 years ago and it really stuck with me. A remarkable woman, a feminist, so incredibly strong after so much tragedy. I loved her feistiness and sensibilities.

So I was thrilled to hear a movie about her time with The Post was to be made with none other than Meryl Streep playing her. I was not surprised, no one else could attempt to pull this woman off but Meryl, and I truly believe she has done a superb job interpreting this amazing woman.

I was disappointed the movie did not tell us more about Graham's background, rather than alluding to it. Her father passed on the ownership and running of The Post to Graham's husband who eventually commited suicide and Graham had to take over. This was the early 60s and quite unheard of, but she was formidable, knew her stuff, and made history.

The movie is about the first piece of political rumblings, The Pentagon Papers, and her relationship with Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks), and the stunts they pulled to expose this. Of course this led to even more political rumblings with Watergate. Giving The Post an almost untouchable reach.

The movie runs, very similiarly to All The President's Men or even Spotlight, and is very engaging. You are on the edge of your seat, despite knowing the outcomes and are rooting for Graham and her team against the politics of the day. This was an era when the news was believable and honest and true.

This is a solid film, that could have done with more of Graham's history, but even so, is very worth seeing. Streep is sublime.

Darkest Hour
Without a shadow of a doubt, Gary Oldman will win Best Actor for this remarkable turn as Winston Churchill.

Darkest Hour is a political/war biopic about Winston Churchill in that first part of the war. It is certainly more a political drama set on the backdrop of war. I found it fascinating. I always thought Churchill was in power when WW2 hit, but indeed he was not, and was voted in after Neville Chamberlain, the sitting PM, was forced out of the chair. 

Initially, Churchill was not that well taken, especially by the public, but he soon showed his skills as an extraordinary orator, won over the public and his peers, and guided the UK in overturning Hitler. Huge things indeed!

So the first half, whilst interesting, was a little slow in parts. Once Churchill hit his stride and commenced these outstanding speeches, Oldman also hit his stride. Absolutely charismatic and compelling.

You'd never know it was Oldman by glancing, occasionally, you got a hint from the twinkle in his eyes. To be able to pull off such outstanding acting under so much disguise and make up is remarkable. This is a tour de force to be seen.

I, Tonya

Wow, this movie really had me entranced. I am the same age as Tonya Harding, and was quite the ice skating fan at the time of this piece. So I remember the incident well, or so I thought. Time does funny things to memory, and herein is the lesson for this film. I believe it tells more the truth than we knew back then, however I still think they were a little loose with the truth.

Either way, this is a compelling and thoroughly entertaining film. Margot Robbie is sensational as Tonya, and Allison Janney jaw droppingly awful and yet mesmerising as Tonya's abusive mother. Just give CJ the golden boy now!

The films tracks Tonya's childhood, and rise on the ice skating scene. As a girl from the wrong side of the tracks, she had to rely on talent and talent she had, a born natural, but without the grace of others. And yet, she rose to the top of the heap, with only Nancy Kerrigan in her sights. This is when her dopey abusive husband and his even dopier mate decide to fix the odds a bit. Things get out of hand and you know the story.

The film shows Tonya's side of things, and I am still in many minds about what is what. However, she did have an awful life and she was extraordinarily talented. A crazy mix way back then.

This is such a well made and well acted film, the story discrepancy does kinda disappear whilst you are watching it. I was caught right up in things, the sound track was great too.

I, Tonya is a great romp, funny and entertaining, but at times smacks you when you don't expect it and it leaves you winded and scratching your head and you will think about this movie for days, weeks to come.

The Big Sick

I loved this little gem of a film, based on the true story of how the writers met. Kumail Namjiani (Portlandia and Silicon Valley) plays himself with Zoe Kazan playing his now wife Emily.

Kumail and Emily date, but it doesn't quite work out, and when Kumail finds out Emily has fallen ill, he rushes to her side and remains, meeting her parents (Holly Hunter and Ray Romano - both outstanding) and not leaving much of an impression on them.

This is a mix of humour (it is very funny in parts) and drama and pathos, and beautifully written and presented. I didn't know what to expect when I went into this film, but walked out feeling great. It is an uplifting story, and is nice to see it represented in the writing category.