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Issue 315
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OSCAR BAIT OR ACADEMY GREAT?

For two minutes and 23 excruciating seconds, La La Land was the 2017 Best Picture Oscar winner. Mid-acceptance, the clerical error was righted as the cast and crew of Moonlight, the actual winners, were invited on stage. Though we can't promise drama on this scale when the Academy gathers in LA in the early hours of Monday, we can promise debate — so many of these nine Best Picture nominations deserve to be recognised. But have you managed to see them yet? From the silverscreen to the little screen, here's how to get up-to-speed before they get up to speak.
ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD
Noms: 10. Best chance: Brad Pitt, Supporting Actor
In Quentin Tarantino's best film in decades, Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt co-star as an over-the-hill actor and his stunt double, both the wrong side of 40 and feeling it. Meanwhile, Margot Robbie’s Sharon Tate is at the other end of Hollywood’s pipeline, strapping in for a lifetime of stardom she has no idea will be cruelly cut short. Told through a series of hilarious, disturbing and increasingly deranged vignettes, this is a relaxed, confident film that you almost wish you could live in. Worth it for Pitt’s wardrobe alone. See it at Mockingbird or on Amazon Prime
1917
Noms: 10. Best chance: Best Picture
Seen it twice. Still can't quite believe how bad the Germans are at shooting straight, and still can't quite believe it's possible to make a one-take visual masterpiece like this. A gruelling, challenging ride of a movie focussing on two First World War tommies sent 'over the top' of trench riddled France. In a race against time, they must cross enemy territory and deliver a message that will stop a deadly attack on hundreds of soldiers. George MacKay and Dean-Charles Chapman are spell-bindingly believable in the lead roles. Top-to-toe, unnervingly powerful. See it at Cineworld at Resorts World
FORD V FERRARI
Noms: 4. Best chance: Film Editing
Ever wondered what a mix of Mad Men and Top Gear would be like? Us neither, but that doesn’t mean this old-fashioned flick doesn’t deliver the goods. Christian Bale and Matt Damon are the key members of the Ford team at Le Mans, who must get over their chalk-and-cheese styles to defeat the dominant Ferrari and their affront to American engineering knowhow. Sure, it follows the same template as everything from Mighty Ducks to Bend it Like Beckham, but the leads are excellent, and the racing scenes are phenomenal. See it on Amazon Prime
LITTLE WOMEN
Noms: 6. Best chance: Adapted Screenplay
Much has been said about the lack of a nomination for Greta Gerwig as director of this retelling of Louisa May Alcott's classic novel. But there's also rather a lot to say about performances from Saoirse Ronan, as story-teller Jo March in both adult and child form, plus Florence Pugh's Amy. A new version of such a well-known story is about as risky as it gets off the back of Gerwig's debut, Ladybird. And although it's unlikely we'll be talking about this one a year from now, it's an accomplished film that stays the right side of cutesy. See it at these cinemas
MARRIAGE STORY
Noms: 6. Best chance:  Laura Dern, Supporting Actress
If you're in the throws of any sort of relationship strife, word on the popcorn-paved streets is to give this nomination-magnet a swerve. Not because it isn't brilliant but because it is quite so stirring and incisive. Following stage director and actress, Charlie and Nicole Barber (Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson), as their marriage unravels, it's the screenplay as well as individual performances from the leads, plus Laura Dern as Nicole's lawyer, that are getting all sorts of acclaim. See it on Netflix
JOJO RABBIT
Noms: 6. Best chance: Adapted Screenplay
Love or loathe it, Jojo Rabbit is a satirical comedy set in the final year of WW2 about the most serious of ideas: propaganda, hatred and ethnicity. Jojo is a Hitler Youth enthusiast, who is visited regularly by his imaginary friend, Hitler. When Jojo discovers a little Jewish girl hidden by his mother — also played by Scarlett Johansson, and giving the actress her second individual nomination — in the attic, he starts to have rather more questions than answers. A wry, clever film for some and a bit too pleased with itself for others. See it at these cinemas
PARASITE
Noms: 6. Best chance: International Feature
This beautiful, funny, dark tale of two South Korean households at opposite ends of society turns and twists in the most unexpected ways, as Ki-taek and his impoverished family ingratiate themselves into the lives of the glamorous, clueless Parks'. Parasite fills you with hope, then thwacks you over the head with a grim, gritty reality that wouldn't be out of place in a Tarantino flick. Winner of the Palme d'Or and darling of the critics, if there's going to be an upset this year, it will involve director Bong Joon ho's big-thinking, subtitled export. See it at Everyman or The Electric
THE IRISHMAN
Noms: 10. Best chance: Adapted Screenplay
Rotten Tomatoes, box office takings and Mark Kermode all feel like reasonable ways to measure the success of a film. But at three hours and 29 minutes, Martin Scorsese's gangster retrospective can be measured in bathroom breaks, or lack thereof. We did not so much as fidget for 209 minutes so caught up were we in the world of hitman, Frank Sheeran, as he reflects on his time working for crime family, the Bufalinos. Beautifully shot and, at times, luxuriously slow. See it at No 8 (Feb 7) or on Netflix
JOKER
Noms: 11. Best chance: Joaquin Phoenix, Actor in a Leading Role
The most Oscar-nominated film this year, Joaquin Phoenix — blistering and brilliant — is a mentally ill clown who falls through the cracks and discovers a taste for mass murder, becoming a strange folk hero in the process. Nihilistic and dark, this is the grim obverse of a Marvel movie and could not be further from the "comic book movie" some have dismissed it as. For his physical acting and his sad twistiness, Phoenix is, deservedly, feeling like an absolute cert for the best actor gong. See it at these cinemas

"IT TASTES LIKE TCHAIKOVSKY" 


Nowhere in the careers advice we received did the possibility of becoming a food artist come up. Had it, Unusual Ingredients, is exactly the sort of night we'd be doing all that "extra reading" to achieve. A multi-sensory sort of feasting for your eyes, ears and tongue, you'll be guided through a menu including seaweed, popping candy and tamarind all paired with a piece of music composed to amplify an element of each course, whether that's texture, flavour or feel. Based on actual, real science — gastrophysical research into our sensory perception, if you're asking — the project, run by musicians and that food artist, will consider ideas like how sweet and bitter flavours are impacted by higher and lower frequencies. In Brum for one night as part of the four-date national tour, find the one-off at MAC on May 14. Tickets are £15. And if for some reason you can't make that date, a box set containing a vinyl of the soundtrack as well as the edible ingredients is being released on March 11.

WELLBEING:
NOW IN A PUB


Odds are, you could do with taking a little bit more care of yourself than you are currently. But you're time-poor and finding a well-located new class that hasn't been fully booked by all those New Year's resolvers can be a toughie. Enter left, Pop-Up For Positivity, a month of free wellbeing events, from yoga and HIIT, to workshops on improving the quality of your sleep, your relationship with your colleagues or even with your partner. Starting today (Feb 6) and continuing through until March 4, check out the full work-schedule friendly timetable right here. Then get over to The Good Intent (entrance pictured) in the middle of the Great Western Arcade to try as many of the sessions as you like. They're all free and there's no need to book.

LAUGH OUT LLOYD


Comedian, choirboy and (still) aspiring goalkeeper, Lloyd Griffith hit the big time in 2019, fronting Can You Beat The Bookies?, co-hosting Netflix series Flinch and appearing on all and any of the 8 Out 10 thingymabobs you can shake a conductor's baton at. But the highlight, surely, was when he sang the national anthem (skip to 4 mins) at the Birmingham Mayoral opening of Joe Lycett's kitchen extension. Due to hefty demand, he's had a second date added for his sellout, stand-up show at Birmingham's Glee, now appearing on both March 18 (no tickets) and May 6 (hurry, hurry). Mixing jokes with choir singing, Lloyd's landed himself a style of comedy unlike anything else on the circuit and his likability is chart-topping. Tickets are £14.
Venue: Baked in Brick, Custard Factory, B9 4AA; website 
Choice: Roast beef (as part of 3-course menu, £19.95)

Deciding whether or not to have children is life's biggest decision. And the second? Was the mutton dumpling or the dry aged rump of beef the better dish and therefore the You Choose victor in this week's battle of meaty greats? While you'll find Aubrey Allen's finest, served refreshingly pink, every week on Baked In Brick's Sunday menu, the slow-cooked, unctuous, drippy mutton starter was the special interloper — a starter available only on the day we made it over to the Custard Factory spot. The depth of flavour, coupled with the fatty juices, caught expertly in the pitta-like casing, had us asking for a further dumpling dose in lieu of pudding for our third course. And, as we left, we spied the staff snaffling up main-course sized portions of the stuff. But the beef. It's been actual years since we were entirely sated by a portion of the King of Sundays. Add to that a faultless yorkie, charred-up hispi cabbage, and honey roasted carrots and — we just this moment realised — we never even asked for horseradish. So complete was this plate of food that our usual need for the hot root didn't even register. In summary, the beef takes it, just, but we're immediately increasing the frequency of our visits in a bid to strike a sweetheart trade deal where the dumpling becomes a menu-mainstay. From 12pm 'till 6pm. Do 
book. Sample menu
Prising open its heavy old door this Saturday (Feb 8), Steel House Lane Lock-Up is open from 10am for non-permanent visitations and a look inside the cells that were in use until as recently as 2016. Tickets are £6.
Dig Brew Co and Rudys are having a get-together and you are cordially invited. Get a brewery tour, pizza and beers across their two sites, tomorrow (Feb 7) from 6pm. Snag a place for £19.50.
Local lads, Webster and Horsfall, manufactured the wire for the first successful transatlantic cable in 1866. If that sort of thing excites your floppy brain, get to BMAG's new exhibition, telling the story of the family business. Until Oct 4. Entry is free.
After a bit of a pre-Crimbo sell out, Bongo's Bingo has added a load of Feb and March dates, with some spots even available for this Saturday's sesh (£13).
And if you're in the mood for a day trip, it's the Agentur Kingmaker Chase at Warwick Races on Saturday (Feb 8), a bit of a biggie in the world of geegees. Tickets (from £15)


“Just because my dreams are different than yours doesn’t make them unimportant.”


Meg March in Little Women (2019)



 
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WORDS: Katy Drohan, Tom Cullen, Andrew Lowry

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