Here’s my tried and tested Szechuan Sauce recipe!


My Predictions for the 90th Academy Awards and Printable Oscar Ballot Sheet

Here’s the full list of the nominees for the 90th Academy Awards in 2018 and here’s our printable ballot sheet for you to download, print, and make your predictions before the winners are awarded on Sunday March 4th, hosted this year by Jimmy Kimmel.

Also here’s a really clear PDF watchlist of all the nominees and where you can stream or watch the films to check them off the list as you see them all.

I’ve not seen as many of these this year as I’d like to but it’s because I’ve been busy with other more important things. I have seen enough to get a good sense of what’s going to win, something that’s changed with each great film I’ve watched. The ones to watch out for are absolutely ‘Three Billboards’ and ‘The Shape of Water’.

Best Picture:

“Call Me by Your Name”
“Darkest Hour”
P. Dunkirk
Get Out
“Lady Bird”
“Phantom Thread”
“The Post”
2. “The Shape of Water”
1. “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

Lead Actor:

Timothée Chalamet, “Call Me by Your Name”
2. Daniel Day-Lewis, “Phantom Thread”
P. Daniel Kaluuya, “Get Out
1. Gary Oldman, “Darkest Hour”
Denzel Washington, “Roman J. Israel, Esq.”

Lead Actress:

Sally Hawkins, “The Shape of Water” – I really like Hawkins, she’s excellent and in this wordless, but I don’t think that wins it for her, this is Frances McDormand’s with ease.
1P. Frances McDormand, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
Margot Robbie, “I, Tonya”
2. Saoirse Ronan, “Lady Bird”
Meryl Streep, “The Post”

Supporting Actor:

Willem Dafoe, “The Florida Project”
2P. Woody Harrelson, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
Richard Jenkins, “The Shape of Water”
Christopher Plummer, “All the Money in the World”
1. Sam Rockwell, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

Supporting Actress:

Mary J. Blige, “Mudbound”
1. Allison Janney, “I, Tonya”
Lesley Manville, “Phantom Thread”
2P. Laurie Metcalf, “Lady Bird”
Octavia Spencer, “The Shape of Water”


2P. Dunkirk” Christopher Nolan
Get Out” Jordan Peele
“Lady Bird” Greta Gerwig
“Phantom Thread” Paul Thomas Anderson
1. “The Shape of Water” Guillermo del Toro

Animated Feature:

The Boss Baby
2. “The Breadwinner”
1. “Coco”
“Loving Vincent”

Live Action Short:

2. “DeKalb Elementary”
“The Eleven O’Clock”
“My Nephew Emmett”
1. “The Silent Child”
“Watu Wote/All of Us”

Adapted Screenplay:

1. “Call Me by Your Name” James Ivory
“The Disaster Artist” Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber
P. “Logan” Scott Frank & James Mangold and Michael Green
“Molly’s Game” Aaron Sorkin
2. “Mudbound” Virgil Williams and Dee Rees

Original Screenplay:

The Big Sick” Emily V. Gordon & Kumail Nanjiani
2P. Get Out” Jordan Peele
“Lady Bird” Greta Gerwig
“The Shape of Water” Guillermo del Toro, Vanessa Taylor
1. “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” Martin McDonagh


1P. “Blade Runner 2049” Roger Deakins
“Darkest Hour” Bruno Delbonnel
2. Dunkirk” Hoyte van Hoytema
“Mudbound” Rachel Morrison
“The Shape of Water” Dan Laustsen

Best Documentary Feature:

Best Documentary Short Subject:

1. “Edith+Eddie”
“Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405”
2. Heroin(e)
“Knife Skills”
“Traffic Stop”

Best Animated Short Film:

1. Dear Basketball
“Garden Party”
P. Lou
2. “Negative Space”
Revolting Rhymes

Best Foreign Language Film:

2. “A Fantastic Woman” (Chile)
“The Insult” (Lebanon)
“Loveless” (Russia)
“On Body and Soul (Hungary)
1. “The Square” (Sweden)

Film Editing:

1P. Baby Driver” Jonathan Amos, Paul Machliss
2. Dunkirk” Lee Smith
“I, Tonya” Tatiana S. Riegel
“The Shape of Water” Sidney Wolinsky
“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” Jon Gregory

Sound Editing:

P. Baby Driver” Julian Slater
“Blade Runner 2049” Mark Mangini, Theo Green
1. Dunkirk” Alex Gibson, Richard King
“The Shape of Water” Nathan Robitaille
2. Star Wars: The Last Jedi” Ren Klyce, Matthew Wood

Sound Mixing:

P. Baby Driver” Mary H. Ellis, Julian Slater, Tim Cavagin
“Blade Runner 2049” Mac Ruth, Ron Bartlett, Doug Hephill
1. Dunkirk” Mark Weingarten, Gregg Landaker, Gary A. Rizzo
“The Shape of Water” Glen Gauthier, Christian Cooke, Brad Zoern
2. Star Wars: The Last Jedi” Stuart Wilson, Ren Klyce, David Parker, Michael Semanick

Production Design:

Beauty and the Beast
1P. “Blade Runner 2049″
“Darkest Hour”
Dunkirk” – This would be my third choice but it’s the same era as ‘Darkest Hour’ which may split some votes.
2. “The Shape of Water”

Original Score:

2P. Dunkirk” Hans Zimmer
“Phantom Thread” Jonny Greenwood
1. “The Shape of Water” Alexandre Desplat
Star Wars: The Last Jedi” John Williams
“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” Carter Burwell

Original Song:

“Mighty River” from “Mudbound” Mary J. Blige
“Mystery of Love” from “Call Me by Your Name” Sufjan Stevens
2. “Remember Me” from “Coco” Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Robert Lopez
“Stand Up for Something” from “Marshall” Diane Warren, Common
1. “This Is Me” from “The Greatest Showman” Benj Pasek, Justin Paul

Makeup and Hair:

1. “Darkest Hour” – Gary Oldman is unrecognizable as Winston Churchill, plus era-specific hairdos. 
“Victoria and Abdul”
2P. Wonder

Costume Design:

2. Beauty and the Beast
“Darkest Hour”
1. “Phantom Thread” – It’s about the world of fashion so the costumes draw attention and stand out. 
“The Shape of Water”
“Victoria and Abdul”

Visual Effects:

My BAFTA Predictions 2018 & Printable Ballot Sheet

I like the BAFTAs, they’re like an early Oscars with films that have been successful (and available to see) this side of ‘the pond’. This year due to being particularly busy I haven’t been able to watch as many nominated films as usual, though I’m still trying to get through a fair few before the Oscars, so some of my predictions for what’s likely to win this weekend at the BAFTA ceremony are guesses. Still, I’ll give it a go.

The scoring system is as standard, I predict 1st choice (2pts if correct), 2nd choice (1pt if correct), then indicate my preferred winner with a P (which carries no points but is for self-expression). I’ve not seen enough of the films to be able to give a personal favourite in all categories, though I will where possible.

Here’s my printable ballot sheet for you to have a go at predicting the winners. Why not print off a few and challenge your friends and family to see who is most accurate? It adds a little extra excitement to watching the awards ceremony.



The awards will be presented tomorrow evening, Sunday February 18th, hosted by Joanna Lumley, so they should be absolutely fabulous! Here are my predictions in full for the BAFTAs:

CALL ME BY YOUR NAME Emilie Georges, Luca Guadagnino, Marco Morabito, Peter Spears
DARKEST HOUR Tim Bevan, Lisa Bruce, Eric Fellner, Anthony McCarten, Douglas Urbanski
P. DUNKIRK Christopher Nolan, Emma Thomas – This seemed like an early leader on release but now I’m not so sure.
1. THE SHAPE OF WATER Guillermo del Toro, J. Miles Dale
2. THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI Graham Broadbent, Pete Czernin, Martin McDonagh

2. DARKEST HOUR Joe Wright, Tim Bevan, Lisa Bruce, Eric Fellner, Anthony McCarten, Douglas Urbanski
THE DEATH OF STALIN Armando Iannucci, Kevin Loader, Laurent Zeitoun, Yann Zenou, Ian Martin, David Schneider
GOD’S OWN COUNTRY Francis Lee, Manon Ardisson, Jack Tarling
LADY MACBETH William Oldroyd, Fodhla Cronin O’Reilly, Alice Birch
P. PADDINGTON 2 Paul King, David Heyman, Simon Farnaby – I’m really happy to see this nominated, may have a chance.
1. THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI Martin McDonagh, Graham Broadbent, Pete Czernin

THE GHOUL Gareth Tunley (Writer/Director/Producer), Jack Healy Guttman & Tom Meeten (Producers)
I AM NOT A WITCH Rungano Nyoni (Writer/Director), Emily Morgan (Producer)
JAWBONE Johnny Harris (Writer/Producer), Thomas Napper (Director)
2. KINGDOM OF US Lucy Cohen (Director)
1. LADY MACBETH Alice Birch (Writer), William Oldroyd (Director), Fodhla Cronin O’Reilly (Producer)

ELLE Paul Verhoeven, Saïd Ben Saïd
FIRST THEY KILLED MY FATHER Angelina Jolie, Rithy Panh
1. THE HANDMAIDEN Park Chan-wook, Syd Lim
LOVELESS Andrey Zvyagintsev, Alexander Rodnyansky
2P. THE SALESMAN Asghar Farhadi, Alexandre Mallet-Guy – Won the Oscar last year, won’t win this I expect it’ll go to ‘The Handmaiden’ as that seemed to be the most talked about by far but this would be my pick.

CITY OF GHOSTS Matthew Heineman
ICARUS Bryan Fogel, Dan Cogan
1. JANE Brett Morgen

1. COCO Lee Unkrich, Darla K. Anderson
LOVING VINCENT Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman, Ivan Mactaggart
2. MY LIFE AS A COURGETTE Claude Barras, Max Karli. –Weirdly, I wouldn’t rule out a win here, the reviews were overwhelmingly positive. 

BLADE RUNNER 2049 Denis Villeneuve – Great to see him nominated, very deserved.
CALL ME BY YOUR NAME Luca Guadagnino
2P. DUNKIRK Christopher Nolan – It’s a close call, possibly too close to be sure. 
1. THE SHAPE OF WATER Guillermo del Toro
THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI Martin McDonagh – There’s a chance for McDonagh too I think, though small.

P. GET OUT Jordan Peele
I, TONYA Steven Rogers
2. LADY BIRD Greta Gerwig
THE SHAPE OF WATER Guillermo del Toro, Vanessa Taylor

THE DEATH OF STALIN Armando Iannucci, Ian Martin, David Schneider
MOLLY’S GAME Aaron Sorkin
2P. PADDINGTON 2 Simon Farnaby, Paul King

ANNETTE BENING Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool
1. FRANCES McDORMAND Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
2. SALLY HAWKINS The Shape of Water

1. GARY OLDMAN Darkest Hour
JAMIE BELL Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool

1. ALLISON JANNEY I, Tonya – I love Allison Janney and the clips I’ve seen are dominated by her performance but I’ve not seen the film yet so I can’t put her as my preference.
2P. LAURIE METCALF Lady Bird – I’m working on my review now, she’s wonderful in this film.
OCTAVIA SPENCER The Shape of Water

CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER All the Money in the World
P. HUGH GRANT Paddington 2
2. SAM ROCKWELL Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
1. WILLEM DAFOE The Florida Project
WOODY HARRELSON Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

BLADE RUNNER 2049 Benjamin Wallfisch, Hans Zimmer – Not as timeless as the score by Vangelis but still great. 
DARKEST HOUR Dario Marianelli
2P. DUNKIRK Hans Zimmer – There’s a subtlety and understated effectiveness to this, especially with the clever use of Shepard tones and watch ticking. 
PHANTOM THREAD Jonny Greenwood
1. THE SHAPE OF WATER Alexandre Desplat

2P. BLADE RUNNER 2049 Roger Deakins – One of the greatest cinematographers ever, Deakins is always in with a good chance becuase his work is fantastic and this film is breathtakingly gorgeous. 
DARKEST HOUR Bruno Delbonnel
1. DUNKIRK Hoyte van Hoytema – Apparently it was even more impressive on IMAX and shot on film, that counts for a lot with some voters. 

2P. BABY DRIVER Jonathan Amos, Paul Machliss
BLADE RUNNER 2049 Joe Walker
1. DUNKIRK Lee Smith
THE SHAPE OF WATER Sidney Wolinsky

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST Sarah Greenwood, Katie Spencer
1P. BLADE RUNNER 2049 Dennis Gassner, Alessandra Querzola
DARKEST HOUR Sarah Greenwood, Katie Spencer
DUNKIRK Nathan Crowley, Gary Fettis
2. THE SHAPE OF WATER Paul Austerberry, Jeff Melvin, Shane Vieau

2P. BEAUTY AND THE BEAST Jacqueline Durran
DARKEST HOUR Jacqueline Durran
I, TONYA Jennifer Johnson
1. PHANTOM THREAD Mark Bridges – As fashion is so cintral to the story the costumes clearly had a lot of work put into them.

2. BLADE RUNNER 2049 Donald Mowat, Kerry Warn
1. DARKEST HOUR David Malinowski, Ivana Primorac, Lucy Sibbick, Kazuhiro Tsuji
I, TONYA Deborah La Mia Denaver, Adruitha Lee
VICTORIA & ABDUL Daniel Phillips
P. WONDER Naomi Bakstad, Robert A. Pandini, Arjen Tuiten

P. BABY DRIVER Tim Cavagin, Mary H. Ellis, Julian Slater
2. BLADE RUNNER 2049 Ron Bartlett, Doug Hemphill, Mark Mangini, Mac Ruth
1. DUNKIRK Richard King, Gregg Landaker, Gary A. Rizzo, Mark Weingarten
THE SHAPE OF WATER Christian Cooke, Glen Gauthier, Nathan Robitaille, Brad Zoern
STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI Ren Klyce, David Parker, Michael Semanick, Stuart Wilson, Matthew Wood

2. BLADE RUNNER 2049 Gerd Nefzer, John Nelson
DUNKIRK Scott Fisher, Andrew Jackson
THE SHAPE OF WATER Dennis Berardi, Trey Harrell, Kevin Scott

HAVE HEART Will Anderson
MAMOON Ben Steer
POLES APART Paloma Baeza, Ser En Low

AAMIR Vika Evdokimenko, Emma Stone, Oliver Shuster
COWBOY DAVE Colin O’Toole, Jonas Mortensen
A DROWNING MAN Mahdi Fleifel, Signe Byrge Sørensen, Patrick Campbell
WORK Aneil Karia, Scott O’Donnell
WREN BOYS Harry Lighton, Sorcha Bacon, John Fitzpatrick

EE RISING STAR AWARD (voted for by the public) 
1. DANIEL KALUUYA – Recently seen in ‘Get Out
FLORENCE PUGH – Star of ‘Lady Macbeth’
TESSA THOMPSON – Stars as Valkyrie in ‘Thor: Ragnarok
2. TIMOTHÉE CHALAMET – in both ‘Lady Bird’ and ‘Call Me by Your Name’


Mid-Week Musings: Krypton? It’ll be Kryptonite!

Promotion is beginning to ramp up for what’s being touted as a Superman prequel show, ‘Krypton’ on SyFy. Though, unlike other prequel shows such as ‘Gotham’, this won’t be depicting the earliest years of the child that will grow up to be Superman, or even the story of his parents, it’s set a generation before that, 200 years before Kal-El is born. I wonder what enticement that era might hold for fans such as myself.

Clearly, writer David S. Goyer thought that after the scenes on Krypton in ‘Man of Steel’ that were generally liked, there would be an audience for a whole show set on the doomed planet, he definitely had more of that he wanted to explore. I enjoyed some things in those scenes, they definitely fleshed out the planet in a way that other live-action adaptations had only ever briefly touched on before and with the high-budget it looked detailed and great, it worked well with the strengths of director Zack Snyder. This television show will have a fraction of the budget, actors less magnetic than Russell Crowe and Michael Shannon and even the best directors they have are unlikely to have the visual flare of Snyder.

I’m a lifelong Superman fan, but even I can’t muster up any worthwhile amount of enthusiasm for this. I’m absolutely going to start watching it, I’m happy to give it a chance to win me over, though it’ll have to be effective on levels other than a tangential link to one of my favourite IPs to keep me interested beyond the first handful of episodes.

As a comparison, ‘Gotham’ was originally advertised as a look at the crazy crime-riddled city before the emergence of Batman, but it still features Bruce Wayne and is increasingly showing his progression toward becoming the caped crusader. That show also features, or at least teases, heaps of characters, especially villains and serving as an origin story for each of these well-known and pre-defined roles.

Krypton apparently won’t feature Superman even in baby-form as Kal-El. So then, will it feature his parents and their contemporaries? Jor-El and General Zod’s backstory would be really interesting especially after ‘Man of Steel’. Nope! It’s apparently focused on Kal-El’s grandfather in his 20s, likely pre-dating this far enough before the destruction of Krypton to near enough rule out the show building to that as its series finale (without using big time jumps).

So, it’s so far removed from the main Superman mythology, is there anything that will be of considerable interest to fans of the Man of Steel? Well, maybe, but they’re kinda cheating to do this. This show apparently will use time-travelling threats coming back from Superman’s era, which is their ‘clever’ way of bringing the mythos of the Man of Steel into a time long before he was even born. I fear this is a cheat and will get overused to the point of tedium.

Surely, when plotting out a prequel show like this, the producers and writers should look at what potential the bare-bones of the concept has, finding something that underpins the idea to make it compelling in its own right, before pulling in the use of twists and surprises to form a plot. ‘Supergirl’ regularly touches on the history of the planet and the Kryptonian race, yet for me, that show often struggles to stay compelling. There’s also apparently a ‘Metropolis’ show in the works for the DC streaming service which will focus on Lois Lane and Lex Luthor’s lives, a concept I can easier get behind. Let’s not forget that we also had ‘Smallville’, one of the most successful comic-adapted TV shows, which moved heavily into Kryptonian issues by the end seasons of its run and really struggled to keep up high standards as it did so.

Premiering on March 21st, I really hope to be surprised by ‘Krypton’ in good ways though I don’t hold a hold of hope for it. That being said, I have often predicted the short life of shows because I don’t think they will work well and find an audience, eventually being proven wrong about as often as I’m right.

Have a look at the trailer and see what you think, leave any thoughts and comments below.

Mid-Week Musings: My thoughts on the Oscar nominees for 2018!

Firstly, a brief note: I usually do my ‘Oscars Challenge’ at this time of year, aiming to get through as many nominees as possible before the awards are given out. However, this year I have booked a holiday in prime award season. So, with that increased level of busy holiday planning and actually going away, I doubt I’ll get through very many nominees this year, but I have been stockpiling a few reviews and will release them daily from February 1st onwards! You can download our OSCAR 2018 BALLOT SHEET here and our OSCAR 2018 WATCHLIST here to have a go at watching and predicting this year’s nominated films!

A few months ago I took a stab at predicting what would be nominated for Oscars which you can look at in full here. As the nominations were announced yesterday, I can now see how near or far off I was with my thoughts and maybe give a few thoughts on the films that did and didn’t get nominated in the end.

I’m really pleased to see that though some films didn’t make my list, I was largely right about what would and wouldn’t get nominated and why, so my finger isn’t too far from the pulse.

Where I was right:

My thoughts on comic book movies chances proved largely accurate. ‘Logan’ got nominated but not for lots nor in the very biggest of categories, just the single nod for adapted screenplay. It’s a shame that Patrick Stewart didn’t get nominated for his performance but it was a long shot. ‘Wonder Woman’ didn’t manage to get any nominations at all, though ‘Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol 2’ did get nominated for visual effects which I said was likely.

‘The Shape of Water’ is not only nominated but more so than any other film this year and definitely a frontrunner in some categories. I thought it might do well, Guillermo del Toro is a fascinating filmmaker who occasionally manages to catch the attention of the Academy. With his excellent cast, this is one of the films I am most interested in seeing.

‘Blade Runner 2049’ did get nominated as I predicted it would, though not for the Best Picture award. It was the beautiful re-creation of Ridley Scott’s vision of the future that was inescapably deserving of plaudits, getting Roger Deakins his 14th cinematography nomination and hopefully this time his first win.

Also, I was sure there would be some nominations for ‘Dunkirk’ and indeed there are with 8 including Best Picture. I’ve heard a lot of disparity between each side of the Atlantic as to how well it has been received, with a far more muted response in the States, leading me to think it’s going to do very well at the BAFTAs though may only walk away with one or two Oscars.

Though the title changed after I made my predictions, Steven Spielberg was indeed on course to make an Oscar-worthy film, so it’s no surprise that ‘The Post’ (formerly ‘The Papers’) has a couple of nominations for Best Picture and Meryl Streep. Aaron Sorkin also didn’t surprise anyone by writing a nominated adapted screenplay for ‘Molly’s Game’, that’s his forte.

The other non-surprises are ‘War For the Planet of the Apes’ getting nominated for the visual effects, they have progressively been getting better and better through the trilogy. Also, ‘Coco’ and ‘Lou’ getting nominated in their categories was a foregone conclusion.

Where I was wrong:

There were no nominations for the much-maligned ‘mother!’. I did say it would grab attention, however, it wasn’t for the right reasons, the majority of people hated it apparently. Nor was there any love for ‘Wind River’ which I’ve heard excellent things about though only from film criticism sources as it seems to have gone unnoticed by everyone else.

What escaped my notice:

‘Lady Bird’ and ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’ had not been on my radar at all, even if I had seen trailers for them I’m not sure what I would have predicted, though both Saoirse Ronan and Woody Harrelson are actors I know can be counted on for excellent performances so I should have looked deeper at the possibilities and foreseen their films doing well.

As is the case each year there are so-called ‘snubs’ and omissions in the final shortlist of nominees but really I don’t think this is a bad year, the Academy seem to have nominated a lot of films that are widely-regarded as the best in their respective categories. There are also women nominated in directing and for the first time ever in cinematography which feels more timely than ever before given the events in Hollywood this past year and will hopefully inspire more women to take these prominent roles in productions. On that point, it’s worth reading up on Dee Rees the director of ‘Mudbound’ and how she aimed to give jobs to talented and skilled women in key roles, which clearly paid off.

I’m looking forward to watching the ceremony in full as soon as I get home from my holiday, I want to save some of the surprises until I can watch the awards being given out properly. Let’s just hope that the accountants this year are more careful with their envelopes!

Don’t forget, you can download our OSCAR 2018 BALLOT SHEET here and our OSCAR 2018 WATCHLIST here to have a go at watching and predicting this year’s nominated films!


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