Film, Music, Opinion, TV

Top Tens of 2017

This is likely not the only ‘Top Tens’ blog post you have seen in the last few weeks and now I’ll add my choices to the mix. The lists fail to include that many leftfield choices though The Florida Project was one film I read a review of then viewed on a whim and now I expect it to win a couple of Oscars (it’s a genuinely remarkable piece of work and I’d highly recommend it to anyone).

Female fronted acts have also dominated my musical choices with gig highlights for the year including the first date of Lorde’s world tour at Manchester Apollo and The Big Moon at Tramlines and Sheffield Plug. I’ve also spent way too much time on Netflix (admittedly without the ‘chill’ aspect) and managed to blitz my way through The Crown, Rick ‘n’ Morty and The Keepers in a matter of days. There’s still several series’ I hope to get through in these cold opening months of 2018 so feel free to comment if there’s anything else you think I’d like.


  1. Thor: Ragnorak
  2. Get Out
  3. Baby Driver
  4. The Florida Project
  5. Star Wars: The Last Jedi
  6. Paddington 2
  7. Dunkirk
  8. Wonder Woman
  9. War for the Planet of the Apes
  10. The Big Sick



  1. Wolf Alice – Visions of a Life
  2. The Big Moon – Love in the 4th Dimension
  3. Alvvays – Antisocialities
  4. Lorde – Melodrama
  5. Baby Driver OST
  6. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Who Built The Moon?
  7. Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels 3
  8. Loyle Carner – Yesterday’s Gone
  9. Kendrick Lamar – Damn
  10. The Horrors – V


Television Shows

  1. Game of Thrones: Season Seven
  2. Stranger Things: Season Two
  3. The Crown: Season Two
  4. GLOW
  5. Rick n Morty
  6. Bojack Horseman
  7. Riverdale
  8. Making A Murderer
  9. Line of Duty: Season Four
  10. The Keepers

‘Knowledge is Power’. Cursing the Game of Thrones leak

“Knowledge is Power”. When he published the maxim in his book, ‘Meditationes Sacrae and Human Philosophy’ in 1597 I doubt Sir Francis Bacon had considered plot lines to be of such vaunted importance. The world was a simpler place back then with the only form of hacking coming from a blade on flesh.

At the weekend, the first four episodes of season 5 of the phenomenally successful HBO TV series leaked online. For a show that revels in scandal this seems slightly poignant. If only punishments were as severe as they are depicted on the show as there is a special place in Hell reserved for anyone who decides to ruin the surprise. Anyone with an internet connection, and even the most basic knowledge of torrent files, could quickly get their fix. They also had a choice not to.

For those who could not wait long enough they could unwrap their torrent files then have to wait a month sitting on plot lines and twists until the rest of us catch up. Or they could be an utter bastard and slyly, smugly inform their mates that they knew what was coming, then tell them. Call me old school but some things are worth the wait and a week between episodes keeps the tension building. The scheduling also means that fans of the show have something to get them through Monday. Cheers, Sky Atlantic.

Anyone that can keep a secret is to be venerated as even the slightest hint of a spoiler can now be dissected instantly. We have all been teased by trailers yet each of those is carefully constructed to get you into position for the main course. Dropping a spoiler onto a Facebook status leaves that appetiser of a show or a film cold and desecrated yet we all know an utter bastard only too keen to ruin it for everyone else. “LOLZ. Just you wait til halfway through episode 3 🙂 🙂 :)”. Piss off.

Curse you Twitter. That episode of The Likely Lads seems from a different age altogether where they only had to avoid a newspaper headline. Match of the Day can now be ruined by a cursory glance on the BBC Sport handle while waiting for the bus. What has been seen cannot be unseen and what is glanced upon cannot be forgotten.

Everyone wants to be the first to know then the first to come up with the viral meme. Some events are just too big to avoid, no matter how hard you try. Christ, I knew about the Red Wedding before I had sat down to watch a single episode. Then again, those who have binged on the leaked episodes are still behind the real knowledge keepers, those who have taken the time to read the books. Sir Francis Bacon might even approve of that.


Oscar Predictions. My personal preferences.

It is awards season and tonight is the big one, The Oscars. Being such an American event I am afraid to admit that I have never actually watched the ceremony the whole way through. I could blame the time difference, the tired showing-off on the red carpet, the kiss-up reporters and the celebrityism but unlike The Superbowl it isn’t on terrestrial TV here.

Now I’m no film buff, I try to catch a flick at the cinema every week and I have a list of films that I need to see  (this weekend I finally watched Singin’ In The Rain and Wolf Creek). I can’t say I’m an expert in cinematography or direction but, like everyone, I have an opinion and these are my predictions based on the films that I have seen. This is not a list which is based on which performances I THINK will win but which performances I HOPE are awarded. Feel free to disagree/agree in the comments section.

NB – I did this two years ago in an office sweepstake and finished in the bottom three but having wildly different opinions than industry types is not necessarily a bad thing is it.



“12 Years a Slave”
“American Hustle”
“Captain Phillips”
“Dallas Buyers Club”
“The Wolf of Wall Street”

There are some great films in that list but the one I enjoyed the most was Wall Street. Not just because of the performances, having read the book I had such high expectations for it then it blew me away.



David O. Russell, “American Hustle”
Alfonso Cuaron, “Gravity”
Alexander Payne, “Nebraska”
Steve McQueen, “12 Years a Slave”
Martin Scorsese, “The Wolf of Wall Street”

Yesyes, I’m aware what a superb job Cuaron did in such difficult circumstances with basically a green screen to work with. However, McQueen runs such a tight ship and you can see in such long, arduous shots that it takes a genius to squeeze that out of a crew and cast.



Christian Bale, “American Hustle”
Bruce Dern, “Nebraska”
Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Wolf of Wall Street”
Chiwetel Ejiofor, “12 Years a Slave”
Matthew McConaughey, “Dallas Buyers Club”

Poor Christian Bale, he remains one of my favourite actors and I thought he was sensational in Hustle. Then they stick him against three top runners and you forget how good a performance it is. Anticipating the chin-strokers at the Academy Ejiofor will probably get this. However, DiCaprio fully deserves an Oscar and it’s a travesty he hasn’t got one, yet. His performance in Wall Street is gargantuan; tragic, laugh out loud funny and ferociously delivered. Knowing the Academy they’ll probably give it to McConaughey, the bastards.



Amy Adams, “American Hustle”
Cate Blanchett, “Blue Jasmine”
Sandra Bullock, “Gravity”
Judi Dench, “Philomena”
Meryl Streep, “August: Osage County”

I’m still surprised that Adams hadn’t caught pneumonia by the end of the shoot so I was pleased she could deliver her lines without chattering teeth. Having said that, Sandra Bullock negotiated 15% of the box office earnings for Gravity so she must have known she’d put in a top notch performance, which she did.



“American Hustle” – Written by Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell
“Blue Jasmine” – Written by Woody Allen
“Her” – Written by Spike Jonze
“Nebraska” – Written by Bob Nelson
“Dallas Buyers Club” – Written by Craig Borten & Melisa Wallack

Having only seen only 2/5 films in this category my prediction isn’t exactly fair on the three I haven’t seen. Never mind. Give it to Hustle for sheer audacity.



“Before Midnight” – Written by Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke
“Captain Phillips” – Screenplay by Billy Ray
“Philomena” – Screenplay by Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope
“12 Years a Slave” – Screenplay by John Ridley
“The Wolf of Wall Street” – Screenplay by Terence Winter

Having read the book I thought Wall Street looked largely how I imagined it, arguably even more ridiculous. I was saddened that Scorcese didn’t stick the boot into bankers and capitalism yet that’s not being awarded here is it.



Lupita Nyong’o, “12 Years a Slave”
Jennifer Lawrence, “American Hustle”
June Squibb, “Nebraska”
Julia Roberts, “August: Osage County”
Sally Hawkins, “Blue Jasmine”

I’m not entirely sure why Jennifer Lawrence is nominated here for what is pretty much an overshadowed but amusing performance. Nyong’o delivered a painful delivery but for anyone who has seen Nebraska they will be praying that June Squibb gets the nod. Given the best lines in the entire film she had me in stitches with her vicious, occasionally deadpan delivery. Plus, seeing her deal with her ridiculous husband in the film I’d love to see her in a state of shock accepting the award.



Barkhad Abdi, “Captain Phillips”
Bradley Cooper, “American Hustle”
Michael Fassbender, “12 Years a Slave”
Jonah Hill, “The Wolf of Wall Street”
Jared Leto, “Dallas Buyers Club”

By now I really should have seen Captain Phillips and Dallas Buyers Club but alas, that’s the situation I find myself in. Until now I never really rated Jonah Hill as an actor but alongside Di Caprio he stands up and delivers in a funny, energetic performance.



“The Grandmaster”
“Inside Llewyn Davis”

Either the warm glow of Inside Llewyn Davis or the bleakness of Nebraska would be a deserved winner. Then Gravity turned up and ruined it for everyone. No brainer for me.



Michael Wilkinson, “American Hustle”
William Chang Suk Ping, “The Grandmaster”
Catherine Martin, “The Great Gatsby”
Michael O’Connor, “The Invisible Woman”
Patricia Norris, “12 Years a Slave”

While Hustle stayed true to it’s 70s sensibilities I spent more time wondering how cold Amy Adams was than actually paying attention to the film. Poor girl. While it was such a disappointing, overblown, over-hashed film I thought the costumes were slick enough in Gatsby to give the nod.



“American Hustle” Jay Cassidy, Crispin Struthers and Alan Baumgarten
“Captain Phillips” Christopher Rouse
“Dallas Buyers Club” John Mac McMurphy and Martin Pensa
“Gravity” Alfonso Cuarón and Mark Sanger
“12 Years a Slave” Joe Walker

I’ll be honest, I’m not quite sure how you award this so I’ll put it bluntly. In a scale of 1-10, 10 being ‘arse numbing, losing the will to live after an hour’ and 1 being ‘tight’, I thought 12 Years kept me engaged.



“The Broken Circle Breakdown” Belgium
“The Great Beauty” Italy
“The Hunt” Denmark
“The Missing Picture” Cambodia
“Omar” Palestine

Omar, duh. I want to hear my name read out.



“Dallas Buyers Club” Adruitha Lee and Robin Mathews
“Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa” Stephen Prouty
“The Lone Ranger” Joel Harlow and Gloria Pasqua-Casny

Hang on. Where’s Gatsby and Hustle? Is this a joke?


“Alone Yet Not Alone” from “Alone Yet Not Alone”
Music by Bruce Broughton; Lyric by Dennis Spiegel

“Happy” from “Despicable Me 2”
Music and Lyric by Pharrell Williams

“Let It Go” from “Frozen”
Music and Lyric by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez

“The Moon Song” from “Her”
Music by Karen O; Lyric by Karen O and Spike Jonze

“Ordinary Love” from “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom”
Music by Paul Hewson, Dave Evans, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen; Lyric by Paul Hewson

If The Moon Song wins does Karen O get to pick it up? If so, GIVE HER THE DAMN AWARD. Wouldn’t mind seeing Pharrell Williams’ silly hat though.

“American Hustle”
Production Design: Judy Becker; Set Decoration: Heather Loeffler

Production Design: Andy Nicholson; Set Decoration: Rosie Goodwin and Joanne Woollard

“The Great Gatsby”
Production Design: Catherine Martin; Set Decoration: Beverley Dunn

Production Design: K.K. Barrett; Set Decoration: Gene Serdena

“12 Years a Slave”
Production Design: Adam Stockhausen; Set Decoration: Alice Baker

Gatsby. Partly because I accidentally walked onto the set in Sydney overlooking Darling Harbour. Looked very well designed to me.



“All Is Lost” Steve Boeddeker and Richard Hymns
“Captain Phillips” Oliver Tarney
“Gravity” Glenn Freemantle
“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” Brent Burge
“Lone Survivor” Wylie Stateman

Best sound editing? Right. Well. You shouldn’t really get to hear much in space should you so I’ll give it The Hobbit.



“Captain Phillips” Chris Burdon, Mark Taylor, Mike Prestwood Smith and Chris Munro
“Gravity” Skip Lievsay, Niv Adiri, Christopher Benstead and Chris Munro
“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” Christopher Boyes, Michael Hedges, Michael Semanick and Tony Johnson
“Inside Llewyn Davis” Skip Lievsay, Greg Orloff and Peter F. Kurland
“Lone Survivor” Andy Koyama, Beau Borders and David Brownlow

Best. Sound. Mixing. That’s a category is it? Guess they do this one early because everyone has found their seat huh. Soddit, let’s give The Hobbit another one. (I really don’t know how you can tell the difference)



“Gravity” Tim Webber, Chris Lawrence, Dave Shirk and Neil Corbould
“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton and Eric Reynolds
“Iron Man 3” Christopher Townsend, Guy Williams, Erik Nash and Dan Sudick
“The Lone Ranger” Tim Alexander, Gary Brozenich, Edson Williams and John Frazier
“Star Trek Into Darkness” Roger Guyett, Patrick Tubach, Ben Grossmann and Burt Dalton

Ahahahahaha. Seriously. Why are the others even bothering turning up? The Hobbit had dwarves and a dragon, Iron Man 3 had a few CGI bots, Lone Ranger had… a horse on a platform? Star Trek looked good. Then again, Gravity WAS ENTIRELY IN SPACE. C’mon now.