2016 certainly was one for the books. I admit feeling terribly guilty every time someone claimed how horrible the year was when I secretly felt otherwise! Whether it be the amazing Films I saw, singling-out LA LA LAND, which I will say is the one of the finest to be released in the past decade, or songs on the radio – we love a return to strong melancholy melodies – the year gave us many memories to hold on to. And to think we used to scoff at Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, Bruno Mars and The Weeknd … now they’re on repeat on our Spotify account.
If there was a big name in town, we were there and this will be defined as the year we met our faves Gwyneth Paltrow, James Corden, Anne Hathaway, Taraji P. Henson, Rooney Mara and Emma Stone. We admit, we’re a bit mortified we’ll run out of heroes to meet!
And let’s not forget my love of horses. My travels to New York and California brought me together with icons like California Chrome, Beholder, Lady Eli and star of tomorrow, Classic Empire – the early favourite for May’s Kentucky Derby. My favourite horsey moment though? Meeting “Princess” aka A Pic by MrWill, my own namesake, for the first time back in February! I will miss her as she enjoys the sun and sand in Florida this winter, but look forward to her being a tough machine in the spring after her winter training.
Join me on a walk down memory lane one more time! And check back this weekend as we check-in with Team Mr. Will including Justin Waldman, Jon Godfrey, Dave Baldwin, Siobhán Rich, Amanda Gilmore + George Kozera as they give us their Best-Ofs!
TOP TEN FILMS
1. La La Land
3. Bridget Jones’s Baby
4. Nocturnal Animals
7. A Bigger Splash
9. Florence Foster Jenkins
Into You – Ariana Grande
Don’t Let Me Down – The Chainsmokers ft. Daya
Let Me Love You – DJ Snake ft. Justin Bieber
Starboy – The Weeknd
24k Magic – Bruno Mars
Cheap Thrills – Sia ft. Sean Paul
Dangerous Woman – Ariana Grande
No – Meghan Trainor
7 Years – Lukas Graham
Lifted – CL
All About Us – Jordan Fisher
Love Like That – Mayor Hawthorne
Just Like Fire – P!nk
This is What You Came For – Calvin Harris ft. Rihanna
Lost Boy – Ruth B
Treat You Better – Shawn Mendes
Spirits – The Strumbellas
Let it Go – James Bay
Work from Home – Fifth Harmony
City of Stars – Ryan Gosling
Audition – Emma Stone
Paul Verhoeven’s eclectic career has won him legions of Fans in both the mainstream and Arthouse worlds. The Basic Instinct helmer continually has pushed the envelope with several bright spots in his career like Starship Troopers, Total Recall, RoboCop and we actually “got” Showgirls and are unafraid to admit it.
He returns with French psycho-sexual Thriller Elle, which after drawing several raves at Cannes, now makes its way to Toronto where it should make a splash.
Centering on video game company executive Michèle (Isabelle Huppert) who mysteriously gets attacked, she makes it a mission to find her assailant after failing to get the help of police. He edges-in dangerously close, ready to attack again at any moment and the suspense at time becomes unbearable.
Cleverly-crafted, we find ourselves mesmerized by the effortless cool of Michèle in what is an unforgettable performance by the legendary Huppert. We navigate through her complex world of lies, secrecy and seduction. All the while she must consolidate her strained familial relationships with her mother, son and her imprisoned father, while we learn more about her deep, dark past.
ELLE screens at TIFF ’16 Friday, September 9, 2016 at 5:30 PM VISA Screening Room and Saturday, September 10, 2016 at 9:00 AM TIFF Bell Lightbox.
It’s our favourite time of the year and the team at MR. WILL WONG are excited to share with you their insights as to what you should be seeing at TIFF ’16! It’s impossible to believe we’re literally two days away from the world’s greatest Film Festival!
The electric buzz coming out of Venice for LA LA LAND is certainly warranted and we cannot wait for you to discover the genius that is Damien Chazelle‘s dazzling sophomore effort. We also were mesmerized by Isabelle Huppert‘s work in Paul Verhoeven‘s dark and twisty ELLE. Kristen Stewart mesmerized us in PERSONAL SHOPPER in what is a career-best performance. We haven’t yet seen LOVING, but believe the buzz and can’t wait to be floored by Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton‘s performances. We also cannot deny we were moved by Rachel Weisz‘s phenomenal work in DENIAL and although people aren’t talking about it as much as some of the other marquee titles, do not let this one slip off your radar. Honourable mention also to UNA starring Ben Mendelsohn and Rooney Mara (we adore her!) which also is getting quite a bit of buzz and acclaim out of Telluride. We will let you know as soon as we see it!
Abacus: Small Enough to Jail La La Land Nelly Paterson Toni Erdmann
If you’re only going to see five Movies at TIFF this year you should try and make them well rounded choices. Toni Erdmann is a brilliant Foreign Film that will leave you smiling long after you leave the theatre. Jim Jarmusch’s Paterson is a beautiful character study starring Adam Driver. No Film curation would be complete with a Documentary and you can’t go wrong with Director Steve James.Abacus: Small Enough to Jail is an interesting David&Goliath story centering around the 2008 financial crisis. Checking off both the Vanguard and all important Canadian boxes is Anne Émond’s Biopic Nelly, which explores the life a writer from Québec. Finally, for a fun pick that will leave all your friends envious: La La Land. This hugely buzzed-about Musical staring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone is an early favourite for People’s Choice winner. My bonus pick is Jeff Nichols’ Loving about a couple in Virginia who fought to overturn the State’s ban on interracial marriage.
La La Land
I absolutely adored and championed Damien Chazelle’s Oscar-winning Whiplash after seeing it during TIFF ’14. I was immediately on board for anything he had in store for his follow-up. I was excited after hearing it was a Musical, but became infinitely more excited when I found out it would team-up Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone again. No matter what happened, this was the only ticket I absolutely NEEDED at this year’s Festival.
The Birth of a Nation Nate Parker’s directorial debut about a slave uprising in the 1830s was the toast of this year’s Sundance Film Festival. It was destined for Oscar glory at that time, but now it is being talked about for a whole other despicable reason. It was on my radar from before, but the controversy that is plaguing its release is just making me more interested in watching it. TIFF promises extended talks after the Film for its first two screenings, but are they going to happen?
I look back at some years going to TIFF and immediately regret missing out on some great Films. Skipping-out on The Raid back in 2011 was a terrible mistake, and one I made sure I did not repeat when I heard Indonesian action star Iko Uwais was returning to Midnight Madness with his new Film Headshot. I did not even stop to read what the Film was about and still have very little clue. I just know that watching it at Midnight is going to be a blast.
Nocturnal Animals Jake Gyllenhaal and Amy Adams are two of the best actors working in Hollywood right now. Putting them together under the direction of Fashion Designer-turning-Filmmaker Tom Ford? Well that can only be a truly special kind of Film, and if the buzz out of Venice is to be believed, we are in for a sumptuous treat. And if it is anything like Ford’s A Single Man, it is destined for greatness.
Bleed for This Miles Teller is one of the very few actors who I will watch anything in, no matter what. When I watched the trailer for Bleed for This during the summer, I knew this would be another great performance from the young actor. And seeing him paired with the likes of Aaron Eckhart, Katey Sagal and the great Ciarán Hinds makes for an unmissable event.
Oh where to begin with the most wonderful time of the year? And no I am not talking about Christmas. Well I lied, I sort of am TIFFmas is here and there are plenty of highly-anticipated Films coming to the Festival this year and without further yammering, here are my top five in no particular order.
La La Land Nocturnal Animals Arrival Free Fire Paterson
All of these Films have elements to them that make me incredibly-excited for them. Whether that be Actors, Directors or general concept behind each one of these Movies, these have me anticipating TIFF ’16.
American Honey American Pastoral A United Kingdom The Handmaiden The Red Turtle
What I love most about Film Festivals are the Movies. What I love most about TIFF is its international flavors. Like the city the Festival of Festivals is set in, TIFF Films are from multiple cultures and feature endless perspectives. Though two of my picks have “America” in their title, both are helmed by Directors from the United Kingdom. A United Kingdom is directed by an English woman of Ghanaian decent, and discusses interracial marriage. Then there’s The Handmaiden, set in Japan occupied Korea and dressed like Victoria’s England. Lastly, The Red Turtle, is a Dutch drawn Film co-produced by Japan’s Studio Ghibli… and it’s also my top pick 😉 All my picks look at this world with wonder, and come from around this wonderful world.
La La Land
Anything Damien Chazelle makes I will run to see! Plus it has the added bonus of Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling. It’s a Musical! It is one of the most talked about Films of the year.
Manchester By The Sea Casey Affleck is a marvel to watch in everything he does, that is reason alone to see this. But this year he is getting Oscar buzz for his performance! It’s a quiet Film with a lot of heart.
This is the most talked about film coming out of film festivals. It’s got Oscar written all over it! The story is one of the more powerful and important ones at the Festival.
Burn Your Maps
This is a small Film that many aren’t talking about. Jacob Tremblay (Room) stars as the lead which is enough reason to go. It’s the Film no one talks about before the Festival, but everyone will hear about it after.
I’m a sucker for Jake Gyllenhaal. I’m a sucker for Amy Adams. The plot is strange and dark. It’s directed by Tom Ford (A Single Man) and is sure to be a crowd-pleaser.
La La Land
It’s Only the End of the World
From a sun-drenched, most innovative Musical in decades (LA LA LAND) to the darkness of a soul who dismisses the reality of the Holocaust in a court room Drama (DENIAL); from offerings by two Canadian Auteurs who have yet to fail to impress (Xavier Dolan‘s IT’S ONLY THE END OF THE WORLD and Denis Villeneuve‘s ARRIVAL) to a heartbreaking Family Drama based on a Philip Roth Novel (AMERICAN PASTORAL), TIFF ’16 is poised to be the best Festival yet!
TIFF ’16 takes place between Thursday, September 8, 2016 through Sunday, September 18, 2016. Check back right here and bookmark for up-to-minute star sightings and Reviews of the most buzzed Films at the Festival!
Umm… can we go to Cannes? The lineup for the prestigious Film Festival has been revealed and this year 49 titles from 28 countries will be making their way to the CroisetteMay 11-12, 2016. The Festival is seen as a precursor to some of the Films that will be seen Awards Season as contenders and also in our City, TIFF this September?
Among the highlights are Woody Allen‘s latest, Café Society, which re-teams once again Kristen Stewart and Jesse Eisenberg. The Film is about a young man in the ’30s who goes to Paris looking to work in Film, but he falls in love and is swept away by the café society. It opens the Festival.
Unlike other years, no Closing Night Film was announced. Like TIFF, they will re-screen the winner of the prestigious Palme d’Or.
American Honey from Andrea Arnold (Transparent), is a British Film about a group of young people who travel the U.S. selling magazine subscriptions and the antics they get into. Shia Labeouf and Riley Keough star.
Elle is the latest from Paul Verhoeven (Showgirls, Basic Instinct) and it centers around a video game company executive who gets attacked in her own home. She devotes her energies into finding her assailant and what results is much like an unpredictable video game.
Canada is well-represented by festival darling Xavier Dolan‘s latest, It’s Only the End of the World. It centers on a man who returns home to tell his family he’s dying. It stars Vincent Cassel, Marion Cotillard and Léa Seydoux.
Visionary Pedro Almodóvar returns to the festival circuit with his latest Julieta, which follows the life of a woman on the verge of madness and her life 30 years prior when things were grand.
Loving from Jeff Nichols follows an interracial couple who go to prison for being in love in 1958. Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton star.
Jim Jarsmusch returns with his latest, Paterson, about a bus driver who dabbles in poetry. Star Wars: The Force Awakens’Adam Driver stars.
Sean Penn directs The Last Face, starring Charlize Theron and Javier Bardem, both aid workers who fall in love in a war-torn Liberia.
Park Chan-wook (Oldboy) returns with The Handmaiden, about an heiress who falls for a thief.
Nicolas Winding Refn is developing a reputation for stylish, unconventional and polarizing Films and he returns with The Neon Demon, starring Elle Fanning as a supermodel whom is preyed upon by her rivals.
Personal Shopper stars Kristen Stewart as a young woman working as a shopper for a celebrity. Olivier Assayas directs.
Screening out of competition, meaning they are not competing for the Palme d’Or, are Jodie Foster‘s New York-filmed Money Monster starring Julia Roberts, George Clooney and Jack O’Connell. Steven Spielberg‘s eagerly-awaited Roald Dahl adaptation, The BFG also premieres. TheNice Guys by Shane Black, stars Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe – a pair of almost-cops who bend the rules surrounding a missing girl’s investigation.