#EDITORSNOTE: MR. WILL’S 2013 TOP TENS!
It was a memorable year indeed! Join me as I recall some of 2013’s brightest moments in Celebrity, Film and Music with a Toronto twist! As a true Connoisseur of Pop Culture, I certainly was spoiled with several delights this year on all three fronts. Toronto witnessed what could well be the strongest years this City ever has seen in terms of Star Power. Also, as an experienced Digital Photographer of sorts, I am sharing some of my favourite Snaps taken around the City this year too. If you’re a #NOFILTER kinda Guy or Gal, I apologize! A few of them are Horse-related, spending many of my weekends at scenic Woodbine Racetrack, my fave Place since Childhood to escape and recharge from the City. Come Wongsters, let us walk down this luminous Memory Lane together!
TOP TEN SONGS OF 2013
2013 was solid for Pop Music and I was thrilled to hear a return to great, strong melodies. What a year it was for Miley Cyrus who not only wowed us with We Can’t Stop, but slayed us hard with Wrecking Ball! Coming in like a Wrecking Ball she managed to turn all eyes her way in a year which saw Albums released from some Marquee names like Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Rihanna and more. Lana Del Rey put us in a state of euphoria this Spring with her chilling Ballad for The Great Gatsby, Young & Beautiful. Flawless and timeless. Mariah Carey and Miguel provided much of the Soundtrack for my early Summer with their gorgeous Collabo #Beautiful, while Robin Thicke undisputedly had the Song of Summer 2013 with Blurred Lines. His Album of the same name easily is my favourite Disc of 2013.
1. Miley Cyrus – Wrecking Ball
2. Lana Del Rey – Young & Beautitul
3. Mariah Carey ft. Miguel – #Beautiful
4. Justin Timberlake – Mirrors
5. Miley Cyrus – We Can’t Stop
6. Robin Thicke ft. Pharrell & T.I. – Blurred Lines
7. Capital Cities – Safe and Sound
8. Katy Perry – Roar
9. Icona Pop – I Love It
10. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – Same Love
Miley Cyrus – Wrecking Ball
TOP TEN FILMS OF 2013
I don’t recall a year in recent memory where the Films were quite as strong as this year. It is as if Filmmakers have studied critiques, knew precisely what to avoid and owned it. Time after time I’d make it out to the morning Media Screenings and just when I thought I’d seen my favourite Film of 2013, another would come along and usurp the throne. In all, AIDS Drama Dallas Buyers Club would leave the strongest imprint with Jared Leto touching the core of my soul with his phenomenal performance. 12 Years a Slave left me shaken and speechless and made it really tough to decide a Fave. Saving Mr. Banks truly affected and inspired me, moving me to tears and I could never forget Cate Blanchett‘s empathic portrayal of a Woman battling her own demons in Woody Allen‘s Blue Jasmine. And yes, I really loved Spring Breakers. James Franco is just on another level.
1. Dallas Buyers Club
2. 12 Years a Slave
3. American Hustle
4. Blue Jasmine
5. Saving Mr. Banks
8. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
9. Enough Said
10. Spring Breakers
Watch the Trailer for Dallas Buyers Club below:
TOP CELEBRITY MOMENTS
It was a
good bloody amazing year. My experience in New York City seeing the Met Gala is unforgettable, as a revolving door of Celebrities came my direction. I didn’t even know which way to go or who to ask first for a Photo! TIFF ’13 brought me several amazing memories finally getting to meeting one of my favourite Actresses, Nicole Kidman – not to mention getting to meeting personal Heroes Seth McFarlane, Jim Carrey, Mike Myers, Baz Luhrmann and several more throughout the year. My ultimate Highlight however was finally after 15 tries, getting my Lady Gaga moment in November!
As seen top to bottom, left to right in the above Collage are:
Supermodel Cara Delevingne, Shoe Visionary Christian Louboutin, Actress Mia Wasikowska, Actor Jesse Eisenberg, Actor Kit Harington, Astronaut Chris Hadfield, Singer/Songwriter Lorde, Singer/Songwriter Robin Thicke, Television Personality/Actress Kelly Ripa, Domestic Goddess Martha Stewart.
Director Baz Luhrmann, Actress Emma Thompson, Singer/Actress Ariana Grande, Actress Léa Seydoux, Actress Adèle Exarchopoulos, Actress Toni Collette, Singer/Songwriter Lady Gaga, Singer Kylie Minogue, Actress Nicole Kidman, Actress/Singer Selena Gomez.
Writer/Actor Mike Myers, Comedian, Writer/Actor Seth MacFarlane, Writer/Actor Seth Meyers, Writer/Actor Jim Carrey, Actress Dakota Fanning, Actress Taylor Schilling, Singer/Songwriter/Fashion Mogul Pharrell, Television Personality/Actress Rosie O’Donnell, Kentucky Derby-winning Jockey Joel Rosario, Breeders Cup Classic-winning Jockey/Actor Gary Stevens.
Spice Girl/Actress Mel B., Actor Armie Hammer, Actress Kerry Washington, Actor Sam Rockwell, Actor Nicholas Hoult, Actor Tom Hiddleston, Actor Adam Driver, Actor Josh Brolin, Actor Daniel Radcliffe, Actress Dakota Fanning, Actor Sam Claflin, Actress Jena Malone.
And now the ten best Photos of 2013 snapped through my lenses (Samsung Galaxy S2, Samsung Galaxy S4 and Olympus E-PL5):
Clarence Square ParkMy Balcony – YorkvilleRosedale ValleyMy Balcony – YorkvilleNorth YorkWoodbine RacetrackWoodbine RacetrackWoodbine RacetrackWoodbine RacetrackYorkville
I truly am blessed and can’t wait to see what 2014 has in store for us here in this sight-filled City of Tastemakers!
(Photo credit: Mr. Will Wong)
#TIFF13: FIRST BATCH OF SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS, PREMIERES AND GALAS ANNOUNCED (UPDATED)
Anticipation is building for TIFF ’13, with less than two months to go as Toronto prepares to light-up on Star Power! The first batch of Films were announced by Piers Handling and Cameron Bailey on July 23, 2013 at TIFF Bell Lightbox and indeed there are several exciting Galas and Premieres to take place in Toronto this September. Today, August 8, 2013 the Canadian Film Slate was unveiled also!
The Opening Night Gala slot goes to DreamWorks‘ highly-anticipated WikiLeaks Film, The Fifth Estate from Director Bill Condon. “It’s about one of the most important issues of the day, information, and who controls it”, says Bailey. The Crime-Comedy, Life of Crime, will close-out the Festival.
With only one-quarter of the titles announced, there are several more Titles to be confirmed in coming weeks. I’ve also listed some major Contenders to get their Premieres here in the City after Labour Day Weekend! Most of these are based on Awards buzz, with speculation being made based on their release dates or the fact that they already are on the Festival Circuit.
AMONG THE CONFIRMED:
The Fifth Estate – A look at the relationship between WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and his early supporter and eventual colleague Daniel Domscheit-Berg, and how the website’s growth and influence led to an irreparable rift between the two friends. Stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Stanley Tucci, Daniel Brühl, Laura Linney and Anthony Mackie.
August: Osage County – A look at the lives of the strong-willed women of the Weston family, whose paths have diverged until a family crisis brings them back to the Oklahoma house they grew up in, and to the dysfunctional woman who raised them. Stars Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep, Juliette Lewis and Abigail Breslin.
12 Years a Slave – In the pre-Civil War United States, Solomon Northup, a free black man from upstate New York, is abducted and sold into slavery. Stars Chiwetel Ejiofor, Brad Pitt, Michael Fassbender, Paul Dano, Benedict Cumberbatch and Paul Giamatti.
Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom – A chronicle of Nelson Mandela‘s life journey from his childhood in a rural village through to his inauguration as the first democratically elected president of South Africa. Stars: Naomie Harris, Idris Elba and Robert Hobbs.
The Railway Man – A victim from World War II’s “Death Railway” sets out to find those responsible for his torture. A true story. Stars Nicole Kidman, Colin Firth and Stellan Skarsgård.
The Grand Seduction – A much-needed boost, in the form of a new factory, is promised to the residents of the tiny fishing village St. Marie-La-Mauderne, provided they can lure a doctor to take up full-time residency on the island. Inspired, the villagers devise a scheme to make Dr. Christopher Lewis a local. From Toronto’s Don McKellar, starring Taylor Kitsch, Brendan Gleeson and Liane Balaban.
The Art of the Steal – A third-rate motorcycle daredevil and part-time art thief teams up with his snaky brother to steal one of the most valuable books in the world. Film in Toronto and directed by Jonathan Sobol, it stars Jay Baruchel, Kurt Russell, Katheryn Winnick and Matt Dillon.
The Right Kind of Wrong – Leo the dishwasher falls in love with a bride on the day of her wedding – to another man. Stars Ryan Kwanten and Catherine O’Hara.
Don Jon – A New Jersey guy dedicated to his family, friends, and church, develops unrealistic expectations from watching porn and works to find happiness and intimacy with his potential true love. Stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Scarlett Johansson and Julianne Moore.
Dallas Buyers Club – The story of Texas electrician Ron Woodroof and his battle with the medical establishment and pharmaceutical companies after being diagnosed as HIV-positive in 1986, and his search for alternative treatments that helped established a way in which fellow HIV-positive people could join for access to his supplies. Stars Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Garner, Jared Leto, Dennis O’Hare and Steve Zahn.
Devil’s Knot – The savage murders of three young children sparks a controversial trial of three teenagers accused of killing the kids as part of a satanic ritual. The latest from Toronto Director Atom Egoyan, starring Reese Witherspoon, Colin Firth, Mireille Enos and Stephen Moyer.
Labour Day – Depressed single mom Adele and her son Henry offer a wounded, fearsome man a ride. As police search town for the escaped convict, the mother and son gradually learn his true story as their options become increasingly limited. Stars Kate Winslet, Josh Brolin and Tobey Maguire.
Prisoners – A Boston man kidnaps the person he suspects is behind the disappearance of his young daughter and her best friend. Stars Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Mario Bello, Viola Davis, Melissa Leo, Terrence Howard and Paul Dano. One of two possible Denis Villeneuve Films to premiere at TIFF.
Rush – A biography of Formula 1 champion driver Niki Lauda and the 1976 crash that almost claimed his life. Mere weeks after the accident, he got behind the wheel to challenge his rival, James Hunt. Stars Liam Hemsworth, Olivia Wilde, Natalie Dormer and Daniel Brühl; Ron Howard directs.
The Past – An Iranian man deserts his French wife and two children to return to his homeland. Meanwhile, his wife starts up a new relationship, a reality her husband confronts upon his wife’s request for a divorce. Stars Bérénice Bejo, Tahar Rahim and Ali Mosaffa.
Blue is the Warmest Colour – The story of a young lesbian couple’s beginning, middle and possible end. Stars Léa Seydoux, Adèle Exarchopoulos and Salim Kechiouche.
Can a Song Save Your Life – A dejected music business executive forms a bond with a young singer-songwriter new to Manhattan. Stars Hailee Steinfeld, Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo.
Belle – Period drama inspired by the life of Dido Elizabeth Belle. She was the illegitimate daughter of John Lindsay a Captain in the Royal Navy, stationed in the Caribbean with a Black woman named Maria Belle who bore him a daughter c. 1762. There has been a great deal of speculation about Maria Belle‘s status: whether enslaved, captured, free and so on. It is likely she was a slave aboard a captured Spanish ship. Stars Sarah Gadon, Matthew Goode and Tom Felton.
Bad Words – A spelling bee loser sets out to exact revenge by finding a loophole and attempting to win as an adult. Stars Jason Bateman and Ben Falcone; Bateman also directs.
The Double – A comedy centered on a man who is driven insane by the appearance of his doppleganger. Stars real-life Couple, Jesse Eisenberg and Mia Wasikowska.
Enough Said – A divorced woman who decides to pursue the man she’s interested in learns he’s her new friend’s ex-husband. Stars the late James Gandolfini, Ben Falcone and Toni Collette.
Ida – Poland 1962 Anna is a novice, an orphan brought up by nuns in the convent. She has to see Wanda, the only living relative, before she takes her vows. Wanda tells Anna that Anna is Jewish. Both women start a journey not only to find their family tragic story, but who they really are and where they belong. They question their religions and ideas they believed in. Both are trying to go on living but only one of them can. Stars Agata Kulesza, Dawid Ogrodnik and Agata Trzebuchowska.
Third Person – Three interlocking love stories involving three couples in three cities: Rome, Paris, and New York. Stars James Franco, Mila Kunis and Olivia Wilde; Toronto’s Paul Haggis directs.
Felony – Life changes in an instant for a decorated police officer on his way home after having a few drinks when he kills a bicyclist, but he ends up hiding the truth from his fellow officers. Stars Joel Edgerton, Jai Courtney and Melissa George.
Gravity – Astronauts attempt to return to Earth after debris crashes into their space shuttle, leaving them drifting alone in orbit. Stars George Clooney and Sandra Bullock.
Like Father, Like Son – Ryota Nonomiya is a successful businessman driven by money. He learns that his biological son was switched with another child after birth. He must make a life-changing decision and choose his true son or the boy he raised as his own. Masaharu Fukuyama, Machiko Ono and Yôko Maki.
Mystery Road – An indigenous detective returns to the Outback to investigate the murder of a young girl. Stars Hugo Weaving and Aaron Pedersen.
Joe – An ex-con, who is the unlikeliest of role models, meets a 15-year-old boy and is faced with the choice of redemption or ruin. Stars Nicolas Cage, Tye Sheridan and Sue Rock.
Man of Tai Chi – A young martial artist’s unparalleled Tai Chi skills land him in a highly lucrative underworld fight club. Stars Keanu Reeves, Hu Chen, and Karen Mok.
Under the Skin – An alien in human form is on a journey through Scotland. Stars Scarlett Johansson, Paul Brannigan and Antonia Campbell-Hughes.
Philomena – A woman searches for her adult son, who taken away from her decades ago when she was forced to live in a convent. Stars Judi Dench and Steve Coogan.
Night Moves – A drama centered on three environmentalists who plot to blow up a dam. Stars Dakota Fanning and Jesse Eisenberg.
Tracks – A young woman goes on a 1,700 mile trek across the deserts of West Australia with her four camels and faithful dog. Stars Mia Wasikowska and Adam Driver.
Pioneer – This conspiracy thriller is set in the early 80’s, the beginning of the Norwegian Oil Boom. Enormous oil and gas deposits are discovered in the North Sea and the authorities aim to bring the oil ashore through a pipeline from depths of 500 meters. A professional diver, Petter, obsessed with reaching the bottom of the Norwegian Sea has the discipline, strength and courage to take on the world’s most dangerous mission. But a sudden, tragic accident changes everything. Petter is sent on a perilous journey where he loses sight of who’s pulling the strings. Gradually he realizes that he is in way over his head and that his life is at stake. Stars Wes Bentley and Stephen Lang.
Omar – The portrait of a 17 year-old girl, in 4 seasons and 4 songs. Directed by François Ozon and starring Marine Vacth and Géraldine Pailhas.
Only Lovers Left Alive – A story centered on two vampires who have been in love for centuries. Stars Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton.
Parkland – A recounting of the chaotic events that occurred at Dallas’ Parkland Hospital on the day U.S. President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Stars James Badge Dale, Zac Efron, Paul Giamatti, Colin Hanks, Marcia Gay Harden and Billy Bob Thorton.
The Lunchbox – Indian Drama set in Mumbai about love by correspondence. Stars Irrfan Khan, Nimrat Kaur and Nawazuddin Siddiqui.
Life of Crime – Ordell Robbie and Louis Gara hit it off in prison, where they were both doing time for grand theft auto. Now that they’re out, they’re joining forces for one big score. Stars Jennifer Aniston, Isla Fisher and John Hawkes.
The Green Inferno – A group of student activists travel from New York City to the Amazon to save a dying tribe but crash in the jungle and are taken hostage by the very natives they protected. Stars Lorenza Izzo, Sky Ferreira and Ariel Levy.
All Cheerleaders Die – A rebel girl signs up a group of cheerleaders to help her take down the captain of their high school football team, but a supernatural turn of events thrusts the girls into a different battle. Stars Sianoa Smit-McPhee, Caitlin Stasey and Brianna Womick.
Kill Your Darlings – A murder in 1944 draws together the great poets of the beat generation: Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs. Stars Daniel Radcliffe, Ben Foster, Dane DeHaan, Michael C. Hall and Elizabeth Olsen.
Enemy – A man seeks out his exact look-alike after spotting him in a movie. Stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Mélanie Laurent and Sarah Gadon; a second Denis Villeneuve Film (made in Toronto) which could well premiere at TIFF.
The F Word – A story of a young man and woman who struggle to navigate their friendship, which has developed a deep romantic undercurrent. Stars Daniel Radcliffe, Adam Driver, Rafe Spall, Megan Park and Zoe Kazan.
All the Wrong Reasons – An ensemble Film about four everyday people: a Store Manager, a Security Guard, a Fire Fighter and a Clerk who struggle in the aftermath of trauma. Stars Kevin Zegers, Emily Hampshire and the late Cory Monteith.
Tom à la ferme – A grieving Man meets his lover’s family, who were not aware of their son’s sexual orientation. Stars and is directed/written by Festival Favourite Xavier Dolan, Lise Roy and Pierre-Yves Cardinal.
TO BE CONFIRMED:
Machete Kills – The U.S. government recruits Machete to battle his way through Mexico in order to take down an arms dealer who looks to launch a weapon into space. Stars Danny Trejo, Jessica Alba, Alexa Vega, Mel Gibson, Vanessa Hudgens, Sofia Vergara and Lady Gaga.
Runner Runner – When a poor college student who cracks an online poker game goes bust, he arranges a face-to-face with the man he thinks cheated him, a sly offshore entrepreneur. Stars Ben Affleck, Anthony Mackie, Justin Timberlake and Gemma Arterton.
Carrie – A sheltered high school girl unleashes her newly developed telekinetic powers after she is pushed too far by her peers. Stars Julianne Moore, Chloë Grace-Moretz, Judy Greer, Ansel Elgort, Portia Doubleday and Gabriella Wilde. Filmed in Toronto, this would be a welcome return home and possible Midnight Madness Premiere.
The Counselor – A lawyer finds himself in over his head when he gets involved in drug trafficking. Stars Michael Fassbender, Cameron Diaz, Natalie Dormer, Penélope Cruz and Javier Bardem.
Oldboy – An advertising executive is kidnapped and held hostage for 20 years in solitary confinement. When he is inexplicably released, he embarks on an obsessive mission to discover who orchestrated his punishment, only to find he is still trapped in a web of conspiracy and torment. Stars Josh Brolin, Samuel L. Jackson and Elizabeth Olsen.
The Wolf of Wall Street – Based on the true story of Jordan Belfort, from his rise to a wealthy stockbroker living the high life to his fall involving crime, corruption and the federal government. Stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Matthew McConaughey, Jonah Hill, Jon Favreau and Ethan Suplee.
Nebraska – An aging, booze-addled father makes the trip from Montana to Nebraska with his estranged son in order to claim a million dollar Mega Sweepstakes Marketing prize. Stars Bruce Dern and Will Forte.
Grace of Monaco – The story of former Hollywood star Grace Kelly‘s crisis of marriage and identity, during a political dispute between Monaco’s Prince Rainier III and France’s Charles De Gaulle, and a looming French invasion of Monaco in the early 1960s. Stars Nicole Kidman, Tim Roth and Frank Langella.
American Hustle – The story of a con artist and his partner in crime, who were forced to work with a federal agent to turn the tables on other cons, mobsters, and politicians – namely, the volatile mayor of impoverished Camden, New Jersey. Stars Christian Bale, Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams, Robert DeNiro and Jeremy Renner.
How to Catch a Monster – A single mother is swept into a dark underworld, while her teenage son discovers a road that leads him to a secret underwater town. Stars Saoirse Ronan, Eva Mendes, Christina Hendricks and Ben Mendelsohn; Ryan Gosling‘s directorial debut.
Noah – The Biblical Noah suffers visions of an apocalyptic deluge, and takes measures to protect his family from the coming flood. Stars Russell Crowe, Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, Jennifer Connelly and Anthony Hopkins.
Inside Llewyn Davis – A singer/song-writer navigates New York’s folk music scene during the 1960s. Stars Carey Mulligan, John Goodman, Justin Timberlake, Adam Driver and Oscar Isaac.
Haunter – The ghost of a teenager who died years ago reaches out to the land of the living in order to save someone from suffering her same fate. Stars Abigail Breslin, David Hewlett and Stephen McHattie; filmed in Toronto.
Very Good Girls – Two New York City girls pact to lose their virginity during their first summer out of high school. When they both fall for the same street artist, the friends find their connection tested for the first time. Stars Elizabeth Olsen, Dakota Fanning, Demi Moore and Peter Sarsgaard.
Diana – The last two years of Princess Diana‘s life: her campaign against land mines and her relationship with surgeon Dr. Hasnat Khan. Stars Naomi Watts, Cas Anvar and Naveen Andrews.
More Titles at ‘TIFF 13 to come in the coming weeks… Full Schedule to be released August 20, 2013.
(Photo credit: DreamWorks)