New year: What’s hot and what’s not?

TELEVISION Bridget McManus

Will streaming media and network catch-up sites spell the end of date television?

There’s no question that free-to-air programmers have to work harder than ever to get bums on couches all at the same time. Seriously, who would structure their social life around one episode of their favourite show when they can binge-watch the entire series (uninterrupted by ad breaks) whenever they like? But as long as there are drawn-out reality competitions or salacious tabloid specials, there will probably still be some viewers glued to their seats on schedule.

Can we expect more diversity on commercial television?

OK, so Ten’s Wrong Girl has an Indigenous love interest and an ethnic love rival to its blonde, white heroine; Seven’s First Dates almost always includes a gay couple; and Nine is launching a women’s AFL panel show, but we have a long way to go until commercial networks truly represent this multicultural nation in current affairs broadcasting, and tell the kinds of diverse stories that are part of the fabric of ABC and SBS.

Edie (Antonia Prebble), Julia (Maria Angelico) and Roxy (Lucy Durack) in new Ten drama Sisters. Photo: Supplied

Edie (Antonia Prebble), Julia (Maria Angelico) and Roxy (Lucy Durack) in new Ten drama Sisters. Photo: Supplied


What will be the hit local drama?

There’s no shortage of exciting homegrown drama ahead, including Seven’s biopics on Paul Hogan, Olivia Newton-John and Shane Warne and the return of 800 Words. SBS has two dramas about refugees (Sunshine and Safe Harbour); and Blue Water Empire and The Warriors on ABC address Indigenous experiences. But the most popular new drama is likely to be Ten’s latest rom-com series, Sisters, closely followed by Newton’s Law starring Claudia Karvan on ABC.

FOOD Dani Valent

What are the It foods?

The fondness for food combining will continue: look out for naan pizza and banh mi bruschetta. Poke (say poh-kay) is a raw fish salad with rice and vegetables – think of it as sushi that’s bowled, not rolled. It’s Japanese-inspired, big in Hawaii and about to hit Melbourne in a major way. Check out the advance guard: Poked ( and the Poke Time food truck (, which does versions with beef and chicken, and expect to see poke pop up at cafes all over town.

What am I going to be eating this year?

More vegetables and less meat. Driven by cost, environmental concerns and creative, celebratory approaches to vegetables, many chefs are turning away from meat, or at least using it more thoughtfully. Look to cafes like Higher Ground, where most dishes are vegetable and seafood-based, pumping vegan restaurants like Smith and Daughters, and fine dining restaurants such as Attica and Woodland House which ensure vegetarians feel like first-class diners.

Who’s foodie and famous and coming to town?

Expect much hoo-ha for the World’s 50 Best announcement of top restaurants, here in April for its first trip to the southern hemisphere. Melbourne Food and Wine has shifted the dates of its 25th festival to coincide and Fairfax is pitching in, too, making it a triple whammy of star chef events and tasty sideshow action. Big names include US chefs Grant Achatz and Wylie Dufresne, Peruvian powerhouse Gaston Acurio and cheeky Japanese master Zaiyu Hasegawa.

Raise a dram to the year of whisky at Elysian Whisky Bar in Brunswick Street. Photo: James Neilson

Raise a dram to the year of whisky at Elysian Whisky Bar in Brunswick Street. Photo: James Neilson

DRINKING Daniel Lewis

Is whisky the new beer?  
Beer consumption is at a near-70-year low (although the craft market is growing at 30 per cent annually and now has a 5 per cent hold overall), while craft spirits spike. Whisky leads that charge, with Hawthorn’s The Kilburn and Boilermaker House (CUB) examples of where the bar sits in Melbourne. And with two notable December launches – Starward’s new bar and distillery in Port Melbourne; and The Elsyian on Brunswick Street, a collaboration of two former Whisky & Alement bartenders – whisky’s golden (sorry, amber) run looks set to continue.

Can we go back to cocktails being just a fancy way of combining booze, ice and juice?

Unlikely. In this age of Instagram, reality cooking and premium booze, it’s de rigueur that bartenders – or is that bar chefs? – inject a dash of the daring. Theatre accompanies the making and shaking, with drinks set to be even more experimental – think glitter, smoke and fluorescent – and a sharper focus on the use of scent to plug into drinkers’ moods and memories. In an industry of shifting sands, look for the “micro-friendship” trend – where barkeeps seek to befriend clientele in the half hour it takes them to down a cocktail – to grow.

Could the “brewpub” become the new norm?

If we’re going by US trends – which dictate many of ours – then, yes. America has hundreds of brewpubs (a venue that serves beer brewed onsite) and it’s anticipated that more local pubs will adopt the practice. The fast-growing crowds at the likes of Cheltenham’s Bad Shepherd and Stomping Ground in Collingwood are testament to their popularity. Expect small-scale outfits, like the Henry Street Brewhouse in Kensington, to keep popping up, too.

MOVIES Sandra Hall

Will the 2017 Oscar race mark a good year for ethnic diversity in movies?

It should. African-American actors and film-makers are being tipped as contenders in most of the main categories, including Best Picture. The hottest favourite is Moonlight, Barry Jenkins’ film about a young African American navigating the hazards of coming-of-age in a drug-infested neighbourhood of Miami. But Fences, Denzel Washington’s film of August Wilson’s hit play, is in there, too. It also looks like scoring acting nominations for Washington and his co-star, Viola Davis. Hidden Figures is another candidate, although it’s a long shot. It tells the true story of three African-American women whose work as mathematicians was crucial to NASA’s space programme. Its ensemble cast, which includes Octavia Spencer (The Help) has strong prospects in the Supporting Actress category. More acting awards could go to Naomie Harris and Mahershali Ali for their supporting roles in Moonlight. And the Indian actor Dev Patel could score for his role in Lion, the true story of an Indian boy adopted by an Australian family. Finally, there’s Irish-Ethiopian Ruth Neggar’s much admired lead performance in Loving, Jeff Nichols’ film about the Lovings, a mixed-race couple persecuted by Virginia’s anti-miscegenation laws in the 1960s.

Are any Australians in the running for an Oscar?

They certainly are. Australians often feature in the cinematography, editing, design and technical categories but this year, the country’s actors and directors are also in the running. Joel Edgerton could have a chance at the Best Actor Award with his highly-praised performance opposite Ruth Neggar in Loving. Director Garth Davis is being touted as a possibility for Lion, and Nicole Kidman could show up in the Supporting Actress category for her role in the same film. Both Lionand Mel Gibson’s Hacksaw Ridge may make the Best Picture nominations. Whether Hollywood is yet be ready to embrace Gibson as a Best Director candidate remains to be seen.

What Australian films can we look forward to in 2017?

I’m looking forward to Breath, Simon Baker’s film of my favourite among all Tim Winton’s novels. Baker stars as the enigmatic Sando, Elizabeth Debicki is his co-star and the script is by the gifted Gerard Lee (Top of the Lake). But there’s no release date yet. In the meantime, we have Rachel Perkins’ film of Craig Silvey’s bestselling coming-of-age novel, Jasper Jones (March 2).

The haute ticket in town will the NGV's House of Dior show and gala. The great designer Christian Dior drapes fabric on model Sylvie in 1948. Photo: Bellini

The haute ticket in town will the NGV’s House of Dior show and gala. The great designer Christian Dior drapes fabric on model Sylvie in 1948. Photo: Bellini

FASHION Rachelle Unreich

What’s a hot fashion ticket?

The National Gallery of Victoria doesn’t disappoint when it comes to fashion: Jean Paul Gaultier and the recent Viktor & Rolf exhibits have been huge successes. From August 27, they’ll host The House of Dior: Seventy Years of Haute Couture, which is exclusive to Melbourne and will showcase more than 140 garments, including some of Dior’s marvellous ballgowns, as well as current designs. And if you’ve always longed for Melbourne to have its own New York Met Gala, this is it: the exhibition opening will be celebrated with the inaugural NGV Gala, a ticketed, black-tie ball.

Where can I go to see fashion on the street?

The Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival (VAMFF) set forth in a new venue last year, moving from Docklands to the vibrant Melbourne Museum precinct. This year, they’re going to take it to the next level, with The Plaza outside becoming an entire fashion “village” of bars, pop-up restaurants, food trucks and activations. You don’t necessarily need a ticket for one of the runway shows to enjoy; it’s a block party for the fashion set. (March 14-19)

Which collaboration will be big?

Australians, weep: you won’t have access to the Victoria Beckham and Target collab. Never mind: the Gigi Hadid x Tommy Hilfiger (TommyXGigi) collaboration success proved that consumers are attracted to the It Girls of the moment. Next covetable cab off the rank? Selena Gomez’s hook-up with Coach, where she’ll not only be the face of that brand but will be designing a line for them.

What will change, fashion-wise, in 2017?

Even though fast fashion is hardly dead, many are leaning towards a more bespoke, individual look that lasts. That’s now crossed over to the world of jewellery.

Which fashion collaboration am I going to line up to get?

This year, there were lines outside H&M for their Kenzo collaboration, and everyone wanted a look-in to Jean-Paul Gaultier for Target. Those will be nothing compared to Victoria Beckham for Target.

Domino's plans to launch pizza delivery via drone in New Zealand.

Domino’s plans to launch pizza delivery via drone in New Zealand.


Will my Christmas shopping be delivered by drone?

Not likely. So far most drone deliveries we’ve seen around the world have been publicity stunts. Domino’s Pizza will start flying deliveries in New Zealand in the year ahead, while it waits for Australian regulations to catch up, but whisking stuff to your front lawn also needs to be practical. Amazon is trialling drone deliveries with small parcels in the English countryside, and the online retail giant is expanding in Australia, but don’t expect our skies to be filled with delivery drones for a few years yet.

Will the internet take over our lounge rooms?

Yes, if it hasn’t already. The National Broadband Network rollout is picking up speed, plus television producers are targeting more new shows at streaming services rather than traditional television networks. Australian sci-fi fans will be able to legally watch the Star Trek: Discovery television reboot on Netflix in 2017, the day after it screens in the US, rather than suffering at the hands of Channel Nine. Meanwhile, the Foxtel Play streaming service is dropping prices, making Game of Thrones cheaper than ever.

Will artificial intelligence take over the world?

Slowly, but probably not in a Skynet Terminator kind of way. The focus of everyday AI is more on teaching machines to “learn” rather than “think”. Learning helps them serve us better – Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana will get smarter in 2017 but Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa are also jostling for a spot in our lives – via smart speakers designed to sit on your kitchen bench and respond to your spoken commands. Meanwhile IBM’s Watson cognitive computing system will pop up in more places, helping us make better decisions based on more information than you could ever hold in your head.

Acclaimed Australian author Kate Grenville argues her case against perfume this year. Photo: Nic Walker

Acclaimed Australian author Kate Grenville argues her case against perfume this year. Photo: Nic Walker

BOOKS: Thuy On

So 2016 was an eye-wateringly amazing year for books. Could 2017 be just as good?

Quite possibly. We have lots to look forward to. A.S Patric, the dark horse who surprised quite a few with his Miles Franklin win for Black Rock White City last year, has a new novel. Atlantic Black is set on an ocean liner headed for Europe. The action takes place over a day and a night on NYE, 1939 and explores  the “legacy of violence”. Speaking of former Miles Franklin prize-winners, Kim Scott returns with a new book after a five-year absence and Brian Castro too, has a new offering, a verse novel this time, Blindness and Rage. Elsewhere, Caroline Overington’s The Lucky One is the very on-trend psychological thriller while J.M. Green also has a new crime fiction, Too Easy.

These are all novels though. I’d like to learn some new stuff as well as be transported into another world. What about non-fiction?

Jimmy Barnes’ raw-as-guts memoir will have a companion volume and the ever-elegant J.M. Coetzee will hold forth on various Australian authors in Late Essays. Meanwhile literary powerhouse Kate Grenville’s The Case Against Fragrance looks at the science of scent and the perfume industry. It promises to “make you see and smell the world differently”. If you’re a millennial, you’d be nodding your well-coiffed head to Briohny Doyle’s provocatively titled Adult Fantasy, a mix of memoir and critique in which she ponders tricky questions like how to cope with a culture that both trivialises and reveres youth.

Quickly now, guaranteed bestsellers that will fly off the bookshop shelves before a page is even turned?

American funny guy David Sedaris is opening his diaries for the very first time in Theft by Finding. Expect nearly four decades of wincingly intimate confessions. Oh and Oprah Winfrey’s first cookbook, Food, Heath and Happiness.

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