Pre-empting The Oscar Nominations

The Oscar season is almost upon us. And as an avid cinema-goer, it’s one of my favourite times of the year.

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However, this year poses an extra challenge to my desire to watch every film from the nominations list before the awards ceremony on Feb 26th – the majority of the films that’ll be nominated will have finished their cinema run in the UK by the time nominations are announced on January 24th.

Already, I’ve seen Assassin’s Creed in cinemas on January 1st, but let’s be completely honest here; it’ll never be nominated.

The rest of this week (Thursday 5th to Sunday 8th January) will be spent seeing the following films, Live By NightA Monster CallsSilence and ending the week with a preview screening of La La Land. These four films are classic ‘Oscar bait’, which is of course, no bad thing.

Judging by the trailers of these four films, they’ll see nominations in the Best Director (all four films), Best Actress (A Monster Calls, La La Land), Best Actor (Live By Night, Silence, La La Land) and Music (A Monster Calls, La La Land) categories. I’d also not be surprised to see A Monster Calls and La La Land in the Best Cinematography category.

Due to release dates, cost and generally time restrictions, much like last year, I’ll be restricting my “Let’s see every Oscar nominated film” challenge to the following categories:

– Best Picture
– Actor In A Leading Role
– Actress In A Leading Role
– Actor In A Supporting Role
– Actress In A Supporting Role
– Cinematography
– Editing

Let the countdown to the Oscars begin!

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A few words about 2016

Well, 2016 was a year…

Yes, a year is just an arbitrary amount of time, and yes, the arbitrary amount of time that is coming to a close has been terrible for the loss of so many talented people, and general crappy politics. But it’s not all been bad. At least not for me.

2016 started off in a friend’s apartment overlooking all the firework displays in Manchester. My first New Year’s in Manchester. It also started off with plans being finalised for my first trip to America. 2017 is going to start off me, alone in my flat, before heading to Birmingham to spend the day with one of the weirdest, but most awesome people I’ve ever met.

2016 saw a lot of travel in my life, 2017 sees more already; San Francisco, San Diego (again!) and Reykjavik… And probably multiple trips around the UK. In 2016, I spoke at CSUN in San Diego. In 2017, I’ll be speaking at GA Conf, GDC and CSUN, all in the same week. (Yes, I’m already shattered just from thinking about that week.)

I started off 2016 with blue hair. Over the course of the year, it’s been a variety of colours; purple, lilac, blonde, brown. But now, at the transition between 2016 and 2017, it’s half blonde, half purple and I freakin’ love it.

I didn’t read as much as I’d have liked to in 2016, but I’ll be changing that in 2017. Same with games. About a third of the way through the year, I discovered EVE Online and everything else kinda just fell by the wayside. But I had some great games for Christmas, so I’ll be showing my PS4 some more love during 2017.

I also got a bike in 2016! My goal in 2017 is to use the trams in Manchester as little as possible and become more confident on my bike. About halfway through 2016, I was in a good routine with going to the gym 3-4 times a week but that fell apart. 2017 is the year I start kickboxing. Somehow. Can people shorter than 5 foot even do kickboxing? Let’s find out!

In 2016, I watched a lot of films at the cinema. So many that I don’t think I could actually tell you what my film of the year is. Stylistically, it’s The Neon Demon, of course. I can safely say though that the biggest cinema let down of the year was Passengers. But 2017’s cinema line up is already looking good, and armed with my Cineworld card, I cannot wait to kick it off with Assassin’s Creed.

I hope you all have fun tonight doing whatever you’re doing and I wish you all a happy 2017. Hopefully, we’ll all survive it.

Seven Months Among The Stars…

Back in May of this year, after deciding I wasn’t going to move to Ireland, I decided to buy myself a nice new shiny PC, mostly to play Overwatch with some friends. Well, spoilers but since buying this PC, I’ve played Overwatch less than five times because, well, the day my PC arrived the wonderful Elinari managed to talk me into trying out EVE Online.

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So, on May 11th 2016, Cali Estemaire came into existence in the universe of New Eden and I’ve not looked back since. Cali started off life in New Eden by flying with Elinari and her friends on occasion before diving into corp life with Signal Cartel. Signal Cartel is hands-down, the best corp in New Eden, well, second best to Cali’s current corp ;). Signal Cartel play EVE differently to everyone else in New Eden. New Eden is a place full of backstabbing, treachery, death and destruction. But Signal Cartel bring peace and love to everyone in New Eden through many ways, but launching fireworks and snowballs is probably the best and most colourful way of doing so.

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Cali quickly fell in with a crowd of Misfits, consisting of fellow corpmates and friends; Kaia Starchaser, Dr Zemph, Markus Vulpine and Situla Vaire very soon became like a second space family to Cali and to me outside of the game. Now, some of you may be aware that my philosophy on games is mostly along the lines of ‘gaming is done best alone’. These Misfits, oh man, these wonderful folk have turned this philosophy on it’s head. Now, I can’t imagine undocking from our wonderful citadel without these folks in fleet and on voice comms.

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Around a month ago, Cali become… obsessed with a group of NPCs in EVE called the Drifters. This has spawned multiple jokes, memes and general shenanigans, mostly with Cali professing her love for one of the Drifters named Apollo Tyrannos and claiming how she loves dying to him as a way of being able to bask in his light and glory. It’s gotten… weird.

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With this obsession came a new way of living in New Eden, and Cali moved on from Signal Cartel to a small corporation called The Evesploratory Society run by one of the Misfits’ alts. And featuring some alts of the other Misfits as well. This new corp does not prohibit PVP but… well, Cali is still yet to get her first proper kill. It’ll happen one day, I swear.

The EVE Online community is legitimately the best community I’ve been a part of; #tweetfleet on Twitter, watching the o7 Show on Twitch, seeing how CCP devs interact with players on social media, how players are so friendly towards each other out of game; it’s a heart-warming experience. In September, I attended a player-run meet up in Nottingham and it was the most fun (and probably the most drunken) trip I’ve had in a long, long time. And well, I’ve booked to go to Fanfest in Reykjavik in 2017. Iceland hype!

If you’re not already a player, I highly recommend you check it out. EVE Online is now free-to-play, in a super nice way (not a total money-grabbing way like some publishers do free-to-play). If you decide to check it out, hit up Cali Estemaire in-game and I’ll come lend a helping hand.
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@hannardynamite

26 What Now?!

Some people make a big deal about turning 25. I didn’t. However, turning 26, I dunno, it feels like everything that’s happened over the last 12 months needs to be written down somewhere. Why? I’m not entirely sure. Maybe because now, at the age of 26, my dad has been gone for over half my life. Which is a weird sentence to type out. But true nonetheless.

So what has happened since I turned 25?

  • I finally went to the US! Work trip to San Diego to speak at a conference!
  • Headhunted by two amazing organisations because basically my skills are hella!
  • I didn’t move! Seriously, this is the biggest one!
  • I owned a hamster… for four days!
  • I started playing EVE, and because of this have met some awesome people!
  • Co-organised the TV and Film content for Nine Worlds!
  • Discovered a love for gin!
  • Discovered a love for sushi!
  • Reconnected with an awesome uni friend!
  • Made some awesome new friends!
  • Went on some hilariously bad dates!
  • Played the best Assassin’s Creed game to date!
  • Played more games of Resistance than I could ever count!
  • I bought a bike!
  • Learnt to be relatively happy when alone

What do I hope to achieve before turning 27?

  • Another trip to the US!
  • Go to Iceland!
  • Stop being headhunted, seriously my ego can only get so big!
  • Not to move again!
  • Watch more movies!
  • Keep a track of the hilariously bad dates for a book!
  • Keep up with the cycling/kickboxing/general going to the gym-ness!
  • Do Nine Worlds all over again (if they’ll have me back)!
  • Play more Resistance! (And think about being a less troll-ish good reverser!)

Of course, more things than I could possibly list here happened to me during the age of 25, not all of them good (did I mention I was completely ghosted by someone I thought was super nice, causing a friend to talk me into changing their name as ‘Smeg Whistle’ in my phone?). I just hope that the year of being 26 brings as many adventures as 25 did.

Now, in honour of my birthday, go hug a cat, or a dog. Or anything fluffy. And tweet me pics of fluffy things!

-Hannah

 

Oscar Nominations 2016

Each year I’ve owned a Cineworld Unlimited Card, I’ve attempted to watch every Oscar nominated film between the nominations announcement and the awards ceremony. Each year I have failed. That’s six years of failing to watch films.

This year, that changed.

After looking over the nominations list, I knew that if I tried to watch every nominated film, I’d fail. There are just some films that are not legally available in the UK until after the awards ceremony. So, I restricted myself to the following categories:

– Best Picture
– Actor In A Leading Role
– Actress In A Leading Role
– Actor In A Supporting Role
– Actress In A Supporting Role
– Cinematography
– Editing

This year I had fun with it. Watching films for the sake of a silly self-challenge no longer became a chore. Last night, February 10th, 18 days before the award ceremony, I completed my challenge.

Naturally, I’ve kept track of the films and my own scoring for them in a lovely little Google Sheet which I updated instantly upon leaving the cinema after each film. Just a quick explanation on my scoring; I scored each nomination for their category, out of ten. For example, when scoring The Big Short for Editing, I judged it differently to when I scored it for Best Picture. Make sense? Good.

Best Picture (In alphabetical order)

The Big Short – 5
Bridge of Spies – 7
Brooklyn – 8
Mad Max: Fury Road – 9
The Martian – 9
The Revenant – 9
Room – 8
Spotlight – 9

Actor In A Leading Role (In alphabetical order)

Bryan Cranston, Trumbo – 6
Matt Damon, The Martian – 9
Leonardo Di Caprio, The Revenant – 9
Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs – 8
Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl – 6

Actress In A Leading Role (In alphabetical order)

Cate Blanchett, Carol – 6
Brie Larson, Room – 9
Jennifer Lawrence, Joy – 9
Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years – 4
Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn – 8

Actor In A Supporting Role (In alphabetical order)

Christian Bale, The Big Short – 6
Tom Hardy, The Revenant – 2
Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight – 9
Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies – 7
Sylvester Stallone, Creed – 4

Actress In A Supporting Role (In alphabetical order)

Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight – 8
Rooney Mara, Carol – 9
Rachel McAdams, Spotlight – 9
Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl – 10
Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs – 7

Cinematography (In alphabetical order)

Carol – 7
The Hateful Eight – 9
Mad Max: Fury Road – 9
The Revenant – 9
Sicario – 9

Editing (In alphabetical order)

The Big Short – 8
Mad Max: The Fury Road – 9
The Revenant – 9
Spotlight – 8
Star Wars: The Force Awakens – 7

If we were to go by the average score for each film, then The Revenant would not hold much hope of winning big on awards night with 7.6, films such as Brooklyn, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Martian, Room, Spotlight, The Danish Girl, Joy, The Hateful Eight and Sicario all scoring 8+ would be high contenders to win big. But, if it weren’t for Tom Hardy’s abysmal performance in The Revenant, I’d happily bet on this film being the star of the Oscars 2016.

I’ll be tuning into the awards ceremony live on Sunday 28th February 2016 and live-tweeting my thoughts and reactions to the winners and losers of the night.

2015: A Round-Up

I started 2015 in the living room of a complete stranger’s house, whose name I can no longer recall, surrounded by other complete strangers having been dragged there by the guy I accidentally ended up in a three month relationship with after hooking up at the Christmas party a few weeks earlier. Thankfully, that was not a sign of how the rest of the year would go.

The first few months of the year went by without anything of note happening, nothing good, nothing bad. Things just were. Game of Thrones season 5 came and went. The beginning of May saw the UK’s general election come to a devastating result, on the same day that a bunch of my co-workers and I were told that we most probably no longer had jobs at a game studio in Oxford where I then worked. Spoilers: we no longer had jobs there.

I suppose that’s where 2015 really started happening for me. Of course, the initial reactions that day were along the lines of ‘…fuck.’ After a few hours of swearing, crying, drinking, I declared ‘fuck it. I’m moving back to Manchester’. And so I did.

The latter half of this year has been an utter rollercoaster, moving back to Manchester, working in the best job I’ve had thus far in my life, frequently visiting Oxford again. When I moved back to Manchester, I decided that it was time to finally have my own place. After six years of flat-sharing, house-sharing, and everything else-sharing (not to forget the sharing of a property with a rat!), I have my own flat. Living alone is something I never envisioned for myself, most certainly not before the age of 30. But here I am, at 25, sitting in my own living room, enjoying the silence… And the rain pattering against the window because, of course, this is Manchester.

2015 has also been the year that I’ve forayed into online dating. The less said about that, the better. But I do now have a plethora of bad date stories that perhaps one day could be the base material for many jokes.

The last twelve months have seen me speak at five major events; Indie Games Collective back in March, VideoBrains in June, Nine Worlds in August, European Women In Games Conference and Eurogamer Expo back in September.

With the beginning of each year, I say “Oh, this year I’m going to keep a list of all the films, games and books I consume over the year.” Each year that plan falls through by about the second week. 2015 was no exception. However, 2015 has been an excellent year for entertainment. Mad Max, Inside Out, Star Wars are just a handful of films that come to mind. As for games, it will shock no-one that Assassin’s Creed Syndicate is my game of the year. But this time around, there is a very very close runner up; Life is Strange.

I have read many books this year, but only one published in 2015; Shadows of Self by Brandon Sanderson. In moving to Manchester, I became acutely aware that the vast majority of books I currently own are ones that I have not read. So, my only promise for 2016 is that I shall buy no new books until I have read all the ones I currently own. “But Hannah, isn’t there a sequel to Shadows of Self out in January?” you may ask. This is true. Bands of Mourning is indeed released during the second week of January. I’ve allowed myself one little loophole in my promise – anything I preorder by Dec 31st is allowed.

I do not know what 2016 will have in store for me, except a trip to San Diego in March to speak at the 31st Annual International Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference. But I am excited to find out.

Happy New Year! 🙂

PS – I’m available to talk about accessibility, tutorials design, QA and women in games issues at any event throughout 2016. Get in touch!

If you could change the past, would you?

This post contains hella spoilers for Life is Strange episode 3.

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As many of you know, I lost my dad when I was 12. For years, I wondered if there anything I could’ve done to prevent it; rationally, I know there wasn’t. But, rational thinking has never been my strongest suit.

Life is Strange is an episodic game from Dontnod, focussing on an 18 year old girl, Max Caulfield who has just discovered that she can rewind time. Recently moving back to her hometown, she’s back in contact with her childhood best friend, Chloe. Chloe is a sassy, street-smart enigma; with blue hair, tattoos, piercings and a deep longing for the past to be changed. She, like most people, has a dark side, after losing her father at the age of 13, she harbours a hatred of the world and those around her.

I can see parts of myself reflected in both Max and Chloe, some physical; the blue hair, tattoos and piercings of Chloe, the passion for the beauty in surroundings of Max, the yearning for the past to stay in the present from the pair of them.

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Episode 3, like the previous two episodes is nothing short of an emotional rollercoaster; Chloe teasing Max to be more spontaneous, causing Max to kiss Chloe; a deep issue I am currently struggling with in my day-to-day real life. Not kissing video game characters, of course, but being more spontaneous and open about who I am, what I want from life. That, to me, is where some of the more important lessons we can takeaway from video games comes from – finding parts of ourselves buried within characters we either control or interact with, seeing how they react, modelling potential branches of our lives onto these characters, these situations.

However, that is far from the most harrowing experience this episode has to offer. Whilst episode 2 shows a friend of Max’s, Kate, committing suicide, which is entirely preventable in-game, episode 3 shows Max encountering a flashback to the day Chloe’s father dies. It was then a game presented me with a series of events that I had been longing to conduct thousands of times over the last 13 years of my life. To do something, anything to change the future, to prevent my dad from dying that day.

After the game makes it apparent that you can prevent this tragedy from happening, after teasing you with glimpses of a happy, care-free future, one in which you and your friend’s loved ones are all alive, I paused the game. I wondered if I could continue. Could I allow a virtual version of myself to do what I could never do? What I would never be able to do? Could that care-free, happy future exist?

I hit ‘resume’.

I saved Chloe’s dad.

I ran to Chloe’s house. I knocked.

Chloe’s dad answered the door. I smiled. A sad smile, even if I couldn’t have this happy future, Max and Chloe could.

Chloe came to the door. She was no longer the same Chloe I thought I was trying to save. This new-future version of Chloe had blonde hair, no tattoos, no piercings; she was in a wheelchair. She smiled at Max.

Did I change the future for the better?