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2018 Oscar Nominations and my Oscar Tips

2018 Oscar Nominations and my Oscar Tips

The Oscars are coming up soon and there are some hotly tipped movies and actors in the running.

Guillermo del Toro’s “The Shape of Water” won well at the BAFTAs and has 13 nominations. “Dunkirk” might do well with 8 nominations and Martin McDonagh’s “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” has 7 Oscar nominations. Other movies in the Oscar Nomination list include Lady Bird with Saoirse Ronan, Call Me By Your Name, Darkest Hour, Get Out, Phantom Thread  and The Post. I have only seen one of the formerly listed movies but this is my list of what I think will Win an Oscar.

The Academy Awards will be hosted by the talented Jimmy Kimmel, a role he will take on for the second time on March 4th.

The Oscar Nominees and my Oscar Tips

Best Picture

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

 

Best Actor in a leading role

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

 

Best Actress in a leading role

Sally Hawkins, “The Shape of Water”
Frances McDormand, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” – WINNER
Margot Robbie, “I, Tonya”
Saoirse Ronan, “Lady Bird”
Meryl Streep, “The Post”

 

Best Supporting Actor

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

 

Best Supporting Actress

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

 

Best Director

“Dunkirk,” Christopher Nolan
“Get Out,” Jordan Peele
“Lady Bird,” Greta Gerwig
“Phantom Thread,” Paul Thomas Anderson
“The Shape of Water,” Guillermo del Toro – WINNER

 

Best Animated Feature

“The Boss Baby,” Tom McGrath, Ramsey Ann Naito
“The Breadwinner,” Nora Twomey, Anthony Leo
“Coco,” Lee Unkrich, Darla K. Anderson – WINNER
“Ferdinand,” Carlos Saldanha
“Loving Vincent,” Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman, Sean Bobbitt, Ivan Mactaggart, Hugh Welchman

 

Best Adapted Screenplay

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

 

Let’s see what happens but some of these categories have close rivals. Get Out could get the Best Director Oscar and also Best Adapted Screenplay could go to Call me by your Name. Although there were not as many blockbusters this year as other years, there are some splendid films. All eyes will be on Hollywood on March 4th.

If you have thoughts on who will win, leave a comment below…

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – Movie Review

Released : 2017
Directed by: Martin McDonagh.
Starring: Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell, Lucas Hedges, Peter Dinklage, Caleb Landry Jones

The first thing you will probably have heard is that this film is based on true events. Is Three Billboards a true story? Well, the inspiration is true. The director saw a poster calling on police to act on a crime. The story of Three Billboards stemmed from this event.

This is a very powerful movie and the first thing I will say is that if you don’t like swearing in movies, then this is the wrong f*$king movie for you. It is gritty, emotional, uncompromising and all driven by an amazing performance by Frances McDormand.

As the movie starts you see Mildred Hayes (played by Frances McDormand), driving and passing three old unused billboards. The town has been bypassed so the three billboards are decrepit and showing old torn defunct adverts. Mildred’s daughter was killed and the police still have no leads. Mildred thinks that there is no action being taken by the police so she buys the three spots and places her own unique adverts. She erects three adverts on the billboards stating that her daughter was killed and there are still no leads, what will Chief Willoughby do about it? The billboards upset those in the local town especially since everyone knows that the chief of police is suffering from cancer; but Mildred has no sympathy for that. As far as she is concerned, all those who did not take any part in finding her daughters killer are equally culpable for the crime. (…one scene regarding the culpability with Mildred and the local priest is shocking and hilarious at the same time).

There are many sub-plots which bring in emotions of hatred and bigotry in the patrol man played by Sam Rockwell, and comedy in Mildred’s ex-husbands new girlfriend who brings some comic relief at the right times. There is plenty to keep you interested through-out and there were no lulls in the action.

You will find that Three Billboards will give you every emotion from fear and anger to honour and sadness. The characters are amazing in this movie, each bringing something different to this sure to be Oscar winning movie. Frances McDormand has to be up for the best actress award as the strength of the character was amazing. The only thing I did not like about the film was the lack of a conclusive ending. For me, I thought I was going to see a film which would have some closure for Mildred. Some people don’t mind this sort of ending but for me it was not what I wanted at the end.

Overall Review Score : 90%

 

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – Official Trailer

Best Pancake Recipe

Best Pancake Recipe

My Best Pancake Recipe

Pancake day is Tuesday 13th February so if you are looking for the Best Pancake Recipe and the easiest pancake recipe this is it. This pancake recipe has never failed me and I have tried a few.

  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup of flour
  • Pinch of salt

Simply mix all the ingredients together. Start by mixing the egg and flour and then add the milk. Whisk well and make sure there are no lumps. If possible, let it rest for 30 mins to and hour if you can in the fridge, (not actually necessary but I find it works well for me).

To cook the pancakes use a small amount of butter on a non stick pan. You can use some kitchen roll to mop the excess. Now ladle some mix into the pan. Don’t touch the pancake until you see the little holes appear in the top. The first pancake for me is always a throw-away but I hope this pancake recipe helps.

Pancake Toppings

These are some of my favourite pancake toppings;

  • Sugar and jam
  • Sugar and lemon
  • Nutella
  • Nutella and banana
Novotel Century Hong Kong – Hotel Review of the Novotel Century Hong Kong

Novotel Century Hong Kong – Hotel Review of the Novotel Century Hong Kong

Novotel Century Hong Kong Hotel Review

The Novotel Century Hong Kong is a hotel we stayed in back in 2010 en-route to New Zealand. We decided to return in 2014 based on our past stay there and again this year in December 2017 when we visited for a 7 day stay. This review of the Novotel Century Hong Kong is a culmination of all 3 visits and the things which we liked about this great hotel.

Hotel Review - Novotel Century Hong Kong

Hotel Location

The Novotel Century Hong Kong is located in Wan Chai on Hong Kong Island, very near to areas such as Central and on all the major MTR and tram lines. The easily accessible cation of the Novotel Century Hotel is one key advantage. You can walk to the ferry, the MTR or the tram lines in 5-10 minutes. The Neighbourhood is safe and we have often gone for a late night walk when jet lag was affecting us.

Novotel Century Check-in

The checkin process here is always speedy and friendly. The accommodation we had in 2014 was a very nice large room on 17th floor with excellent air conditioning and this year we were in room 1913. Both times the view was towards the inner city nothing to write home about, but it’s not a big issue since you will probably be in the room just to sleep. Hong Kong is so amazing to visit this is not a big deal. The bathroom was good with the best steaming hot power shower you could get. The bathroom and the room was bright and clean with and good products in the bathroom.

Hotel Facilities

In 2014 on the first night we enjoyed a swim in the roof top pool. This is one of the key selling points of the hotel. The pool was great with helping with the effects of a 13 hour flight. The gym is also excellent – visit the InBalance gym and pool via the lift with towels and lockers available. The only issue was, that on our visit this year (2017 and into 2018) the pool closed on January 2nd and we were never told, so we missed out on a swim on this occasion which was a pity.

In 2014 you had to pay for the WiFi, now, it is totally free. The Wifi is speedy and always reliable. I held a few Skype calls to Ireland and they were 100% perfect.  Free Wifi is a must for me in hotels and I was delighted to see that the Novotel Century had this available.

The Novotel Breakfast

The breakfast buffet is stunning, the second key selling point of the Novotel Century – you might just stay here for the breakfast alone. An amazing array of foods from all over the world. Everything from Congee and Dim Sum to fresh fruit and western style breakfast. I always chose the asian steamed dumplings! The breakfast is served from 6am and we were there most days at 6am to enjoy this amazing feast of asian dishes. You could enjoy everything from Shui Mai to Pork Steamed buns. Delicious !

Breakfast at the Novotel Century Hotel Hong Kong

Breakfast at the Novotel Century Hotel Hong Kong

There is also an Italian Restaurant and a bar. However get to the bar before the stated 1am closing time as it should really state that last orders is 12:30 closing at 1am.

Beds are very comfortable and you can be guaranteed a good nights sleep. Sometimes you stay in bed that bit too long as they are ridiculously comfy beds !

Overall

Overall the Novotel Century Hong Kong is a lovely hotel within walking distance of MTR and Trams and about 15 mins walk to the Star Ferry terminal.  A really great hotel to stay at if you are visiting Hong Kong.

Novotel Century Hong Kong – Map Location

Below is a map location of the Novotel Century Hong Kong

Novotel Century Hong Kong, Jaffe Road, Hong Kong

Premium Economy on Virgin Atlantic – London to Hong Kong Review

Premium Economy on Virgin Atlantic – London to Hong Kong Review

Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy Review – London to Hong Kong

I have been to Hong Kong on 3 previous occasions. In 2002 I went with British Airways in Economy class. On the next occasion in 2010 I flew Qantas but went in Premium Economy. In 2011 I flew with Cathay Pacific Premium Economy. This year I flew with Virgin Atlantic from London to Hong Kong in Premium Economy on flight VS206 and return on VS207  I had never flown with Virgin Atlantic before. Another first was flying on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

Checkin and Pre-Flight

Because you have a Premium Economy ticket you do get to check in ahead of the Economy section. On arrival at your seat you find an amenity kit. This kit includes socks, sleep mask, toothbrush, tooth paste and ear plugs. A neck pillow and blanket are also provided for your comfort. The kit is very useful on the long flight and you will appreciate the toothbrush around 7 hours into the flight (nice touch).

As part of the VIP Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy service you are also treated to sparking wine or orange juice before takeoff.

Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy Review - The Boeing Dreamliner Awaits
Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy Review - The Champagne Welcome

Your seat on board Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy

The seats in Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy are that bit wider than standard economy plus they recline further. They are very comfortable and combined with the quality leg rest, you can get into a decent resting position.

I managed to get about 4 hours sleep on the flight which is good for me as I usually end up watching movies on board. The neck pillows were a little soft so I had to double it over and use as a normal pillow.

 

The In-flight Experience & Comfort

Take off in the Boeing 787 Dreamliner was powerful and smooth. The Rolls Royce Trent 1000 engine delivers 80,000lbs of force to take you elegantly into the skies.

During the flight the Virgin on board entertainment system, “VERA”, has much to offer. If has movies, box sets, music, games and done extra features. The movies were all recent releases including IT, Despicable Me3, Baby Driver and Atomic Blonde. Music included albums from the greats such as Bruce Springsteen, AC/DC, Bob Dylan and many more. One notable omission was that Queen were not included much to my disappointment. However, it was nice to see Joe Bonamassa included in the listings. The box sets were varied including Big Bang Theory, Veep and Game of Thrones – but only a limited number of episodes are included. On the games, these are good but basic. Kids will enjoy the soccer and breakout games.

Other functions of the VERA entertainment system include a flight tracker showing current position, speed and altitude. You can also chat to other seats and use USB keys for media playing.

During the flight I found it very comfortable to watch the VERA screen. You can tilt it to suit your needs and adjust brightness and volume easily.

 

The In-flight Experience & Comfort

Take off in the Boeing 787 Dreamliner was powerful and smooth. The Rolls Royce Trent 1000 engine delivers 80,000lbs of force to take you elegantly into the skies.

During the flight the Virgin on board entertainment system, “VERA”, has much to offer. If has movies, box sets, music, games and done extra features. The movies were all recent releases including IT, Despicable Me3, Baby Driver and Atomic Blonde. Music included albums from the greats such as Bruce Springsteen, AC/DC, Bob Dylan and many more. One notable omission was that Queen were not included much to my disappointment. However, it was nice to see Joe Bonamassa included in the listings. The box sets were varied including Big Bang Theory, Veep and Game of Thrones – but only a limited number of episodes are included. On the games, these are good but basic. Kids will enjoy the soccer and breakout games.

Other functions of the VERA entertainment system include a flight tracker showing current position, speed and altitude. You can also chat to other seats and use USB keys for media playing.

During the flight I found it very comfortable to watch the VERA screen. You can tilt it to suit your needs and adjust brightness and volume easily.

 

Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy Review - The VERA onboard entertainment system

The Food in Premium Economy

The dinner I had was a chicken dish with rice. It was very tasty but a little spicy to be served at almost 11:30pm (about 2h 30 into the flight) for my body clock.

As a Premium Economy flyer your meals are served in proper bowls with napkin and a choice of any beverages you wish. You can also avail of snacks from the galley, we were told to help our selves. The only comment I would have is that the snacks are all crisps and munchie style. On Cathay there were noodle pots, a 5 star version of Pot Noodle, and they were a delicious alternative to crisps or biscuits. Qantas also offered ice creams (small choc-ices) as part of their galley snack offering which I also thought was nice.

Breakfast next morning was served at around 5:30am GMT with about 2 hours to landing. It was waffles with blueberry and vanilla cream. The waffles were very well cooked and tasted great with the blueberry compote – however since I don’t like custard or cream I had to leave the half which had been coated in the vanilla cream sauce. The alternate was congee, a Chinese porridge – not an option for me.

Overall the food was very tasty and was served well but certain elements didn’t pass the premium test. On the return leg there was a pudding described as light and fluffy – it was tough and difficult to cut so not as described on the menu. For me, it would be great to have a third option.

Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy Review - The Boeing 787 Dreamliner has no window shades

The Premium Economy Service

From start to finish the service was excellent. We were well looked after at all times. The staff are friendly and had time for you. On disembarkation were were thanked by about 4 staff leaving the Dreamliner.

The Boeing 787 Dreamliner

The Dreamliner is a beautiful aircraft. Previous to this flight I had flown in all the Airbus and Boeing aircrafts with the exception of the Dreamliner – so it was nice to cross it off my list. As you enter the Dreamliner the mood lighting is very cool and gives a very sophisticated look to the mood and ambience inside the 787.

The flight was smooth with only a little light turbulence. One feature I was impressed with was the lack of window blinds. Instead the Dreamliner can tint the window so that no light gets in. This stops the annoying instances of people opening a window blind on a night flight as morning approaches. The tinted windows really worked and although it was 3pm outside (7am GMT for our body clocks) the inside was still very dark.

 

Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy Review – Overall

I really enjoyed the return flight from London to Hong Kong with Virgin Atlantic. I would have no hesitation on flying with Virgin again as there were no major faults or issues. However for the extra money paid for Premium Economy, it didn’t wow me as much as Cathay or Qantas previously; The biggest difference being the food.

I have outlined my scores below taking into consideration the commentary above.

Service: 9/10

Food: 6/10

In-flight Experience: 8/10

Comfort: 8/10

Overall: 7.5/10

If you have any questions on my Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy review and experience just drop a comment below.

The review is my own opinion of a recent flights on 28th December 2017 and 5th January with Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy. No promotion, payment or upgrade was received in return for this blog post. This content is my own thoughts on this flight based on the events, service and food on my flight.