Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

Here’s a micro forecast of what to look out for this year (or at least be able to talk about at dinner parties in the next month or two).

The screen successes to watch

The Academy Awards nominees get announced on January 13 and we’ll be shocked if Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson aren’t among them. If you haven’t watched their heartbreakingly real portrayals of a couple divorcing in Netflix’s Marriage Story, make a plan to do so soon.

We also predict nominations for Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

The New York Times critics, who take this stuff seriously, reckon we should see Greta Gerwig’s version of Little Women and Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman in the best picture category roundup. And Scorsese and Gerwig are being cued up for a best director gong too.

Other suggestions for acting honours include Lupita Nyong’o for the terrifying Us, Charlize Theron for Bombshell and Wesley Snipes in a supporting role for Dolemite Is My Name.

The book to read

There was mass literary hysteria when it was announced that Hilary Mantel’s last book in her trilogy about Thomas Cromwell would be released this year.

The Mirror & the Light (4th Estate) is out in March, which gives you two months to catch up on Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies. The latter was voted the best book of the 21st century (so far) by The Guardian last year — across both fiction and nonfiction, so no mean feat.

If you haven’t read the first two books in the trilogy you’ve got more than 1,000 pages to get through before the new release, so get cracking. Oh, and did we mention that Mantel got the Booker Prize for both of the first two books — could her new baby scoop the third?

The spot to eat at

Think it’s pretentious that your friends fly down to Cape Town to eat at a restaurant? Or travel to San Sebastián, Spain, for a food holiday? Well, this year’s hottest restaurant is opening in the Kalahari and will have fans flocking to the harsh but beautiful wilderness (provided they can afford the accommodation).

SA’s own Michelin-starred chef Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen will open his new restaurant, Klein Jan, at the Oppenheimers’ exclusive lodge, Tswalu Kalahari, in the Northern Cape, towards the end of the year. The lodge is near the Botswana border and not far from the aptly named town of Hotazel. We’re expecting perfect local produce and lots of innovative cooking, as is always Van der Westhuizen’s way.

The TV series to binge on

For a dead guy, Dracula has a busy schedule. Now the world’s most famous count has popped up on our screens, thanks to the BBC and Netflix. What’s got us most excited about this version of Bram Stoker’s eternally popular yarn? It’s not the devilishly handsome Claes Bang as the master of darkness, nor is it the camp spin on the Transylvanian tale and its endless metaphors for forbidden sex — though, truthfully, we’re keen on both. Rather, it’s that the retelling is the work of Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, who made Sherlock, easily one of the top TV shows in decades. We’ve got high hopes for a piercingly sharp and enjoyable Drac adaptation.

The book to cook from

The teaser for Sami Tamimi and Tara Wigley’s hotly anticipated recipe book, Falastin (Penguin Random House), says it is "a love letter to Palestine, the land and its people". We’ve clocked a couple of pages out of this visual feast and might be a little in love with the love letter already. Food of the Levant is always generous and involves some of our favourite things like hummus, lamb, labneh, sumac and aubergines. The book promises to dish these up in spades, along with all kinds of recipes and stories from the contested area.

As the publishers put it: "Named after the Palestinian newspaper that brought together a diverse people, Falastin is a vision of a cuisine, a culture, and a way of life as experienced by one influential chef." It’s due for release in March.

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