If there was ever a year that contained highs and lows for me, 2019 was that year. My heart was broken losing my best friend and companion Billy in March. Since then there have been good days and bad days. I try to keep myself occupied always as it keeps my mind off things and I’ve decided this was the way I would cope. The Holidays this year will be extra tough and while I appreciate people quick to comment, “Just get another dog, you have so much love to give”, it really isn’t that easy. I am touched by the donations on Billy‘s behalf, the flowers we received, the thoughtful tokens and sentiments. Those helped.
I am in a different place than I was 16 years ago when I first got Billy. Life is much more hectic for me now and I didn’t have to be there as much for my parents as I do now. So to those who are concerned, the day will come when I will open my heart again to the possibility of pet parenting, but it isn’t just yet.
On that note, I also feel that we really don’t do enough to support people mourning pet loss. At work, employees get Bereavement Leave when they lose an immediate human family member and can get accommodations for mental wellness if deemed supported by the employer. But when it comes to a pet whom we love just as deeply and experience just as much pain when they’re gone, there are no formal regulated measures in place. In fact, with that being said, it is easy to feel embarrassed and ashamed for grieving a pet because it is so institutionalized that losing human lives is so much more important than losing an animal life. Pets are dependents and provide affection, support and routine in one’s life. When a pet ails, the heart aches just as much as it does as when a family member or a friend is ill. And when a pet goes, the disruption in one’s flow is dramatic. Just think about that for a sec.
The year while marred by some sadness, contained several happy moments that I will never forget. In addition to celebrating our tenth anniversary as a Blog, we met more heroes than we could’ve dreamed, saw great Films, enjoyed some great Music. These are things that no amount of unhappiness could erase. Thank you to our Readers and Team Mr. Will – Dave, Jonathan, Justin, George, Amanda and Siobhán for all your continued loyalty and all you give so generously.
I always look forward to sharing with you my favourites of the year, and here are my Best-Of 2019.
Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood
Juice – Lizzo
Cruel Summer – Taylor Swift
Old Town Road (Diplo Remix) – Lil Nas X ft. Billy Ray Cyrus
Lover – Taylor Swift
Someone You Loved – Lewis Capaldi
Good as Hell – Lizzo
Sweet But Psycho – Ava Max
Hey Look Ma, I Made It – Panic! at the Disco
Dancing with a Stranger – Sam Smith ft. Normani
7 Rings – Ariana Grande
I’ll admit it, I know little about Basketball but for that one moment in time that night in June, every Torontonian was a die-hard fan! 2019 was Toronto’s year and no one can ever take that away from us. The City has never been more united and I’m so happy despite it being gruelingly-hot, I was able to skip away from work thanks to my boss, and take-in the 2019 Toronto Raptors Championship Parade. You never forget a moment like that. Eight hours under the scorching sun on University Avenue. Screaming children who didn’t want to be there. People budding ahead of you. But the moment the Raptors came through, none of that mattered.
One unassuming night waiting on a friend arriving on an L.A. flight, I’d cross paths with basically all them Raptors. All of them came passing through the terminal returning back from their exhibition games in Tokyo. I couldn’t believe my eyes! It was like being in one of those rooms with the dollar bills spiraling in the wind around you on a game show. Slam Dunk!🏀
CÉLINE DION Céline not only is a national treasure, she is an Artist I’ve loved for many, many years. While power ballads haven’t always remained in-vogue, her Music has stood the test of time. My Heart Will Go On helped me cope with losing Billy and I like to think of meeting Céline as Billy‘s gift to me from beyond. Seeing her on her Courage World Tour finally for the first time, my heart wept. Only she can make me laugh hysterically and bring a tear to my eye in the span of four minutes. Such a blessing getting to meet my Heroine (the only one I didn’t have a photo-with yet other than Mariah!), even if I waited till 2 AM for it to happen on a frigid night in Toronto! I felt like death shortly after, but I’m alive! See what I did there?
RENÉE ZELLWEGER Bridget Jones’s Diary is the reason I got inspired to Blog. She defined an era in my life as did Renée Zellweger. Seeing her at TIFF ’19 for JUDY was a bright spot in my life and getting to chat with her gorgeousness is something I will never forget. At the risk of being one of those annoying people who see like one movie a year and cry “Oscar!”, I actually mean it and you better be ready for a complete domination this Awards Season. Internet trolls, let’s see who gets the last laugh now!
Who wasn’t obsessed with Jennifer Lopez in the early 2000s? Everyone calls Auld Lang Syne their New Year’s song, but sorry! Waiting for Tonight is all about 12/31 to me and always will be! Lorene Scafaria‘s HUSTLERS is the bomb and anyone who thinks otherwise sucks. Itis about women taking back what’s theirs, owning-up to their mistakes and surviving to tell us about the juicy details. If that’s not empowerment, please step aside, I don’t need your negative energy! J-Lo and Constance Wu killed it.
Will never forget meeting J-Lo after hearing her and her Castmates speak at a Panel about the female voice, in support of the Film. Buy and download HUSTLERS now.
It’s okay sister, I got you! I’m not going to go on about how much Constance owned my 2018 with CRAZY RICH ASIANS because that’s so 2018, but meeting her and J-Lo after blessing us with that beautiful performance in HUSTLERS? I was a dummy for not stocking-up on Lotto 6/49 tickets that night!
This time last year I would’ve been, “Who-zzo?!?”. LIZZO slayed my 2019 with her excellence and one-by-one I saw the world become believers. I discovered her Music seeing her performance at Coachella on YouTube and became obsessed. I paid top-dollar for a ticket to her Danforth Music Hall Show which was long sold-out, grabbed that Meet & Greet lanyard and have never booked back. That was money well-spent seeing her twerk all up my face front row 🍑 and collectively with the sold-out crowd, be moved to tears by her inspiring words. I still don’t know how Truth Hurts became a #1 hit before Juice, but okay! CUZ I LUV YOU is essential listening. You. will. not. regret. buying. this. Album.
Never mind that I look like I’m losing control of my bladder in this pic and mysterious age lines that came from nowhere. This man of grace and legendary stature was kind enough to acknowledge me and that is enough. “I’m not going to pose for your Selfie, but I will walk by verrryyyy slowly.”. These are words spoken by Tom to me which I will repeat over and over in my head like a mantra till I die.
Oh how nice, you got a Selfie with Kendall Jenner. Who cares!? This is the Selfie any self-respecting human being wants. LEGEND. ICON. KING MASTERMIND. Yes, I know, blurry as sh*t. Not even Remini could save this, but I got it. That was a night in New York at the Saturday Night Live Afterparty I’ll never forget!
We’ve all criticized some of Scarlett‘s choice of roles. 2019 was the year I’ve decided that Scarlett should be absolved of all casting sins as she more than redeemed herself with a mesmerizing performance in Noah Baumbach‘s MARRIAGE STORY, my personal fave of 2019. I am still traumatized from that fight scene with Adam Driver. I don’t care what Critics say about that part ruining the Movie – it was perfect, it was passion, it was ACTING! And if it weren’t for damn Renée and her brilliance, it would be the Year of Scarlett. She also is a delight in JOJO RABBIT. See both. Scarlett is notoriously-tough on Selfies, but she was amazing to give me a smile and a wave at the New York Film Festival Premiere of MARRIAGE STORY. Close enough!
Okay, this really is pushing it as it doesn’t really count as a Selfie so much as it is her looking the same direction as me, but I’ll take it. but being in Meryl Streep‘s presence at her Premiere for THE LAUNDROMAT was an uplifting experience. We’ve waited so long for her to come to TIFF after having cancelled her last appearance in 2013 for AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY and it finally happened. What a goddess!
So humbled we got a bit of face time with screen veteran Danny Devito back in March in support of Disney’s DUMBO. I’ve never had a more giving, gracious interviewee. He was personable, gave us rich and thoughtful responses. So happy our Dave Baldwin and I could share that together!
Totally dating myself, but I spent a lot of my school breaks being entertained on TV by Ron Howard, whether it be The Andy Griffith Show or Happy Days reruns. Okay, sure he’s directed Masterpieces like A BEAUTIFUL MIND, CINDERELLA MAN, SPLASH, APOLLO 13 and FROST/NIXON but in my heart he’ll always be Richie Cunningham and Opie!
Okay, enough time has passed where I can admit that I just didn’t love BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY. For one, it irks me how key things in Freddie Mercury‘s life like his sexuality were muted, when that was actually a big part of his life and persona. That being said, none can be detracted from Rami‘s flawless Oscar-winning performance. This Snap was taken at Chateau Marmont just one night before he took the gold. Don’t let others fool you, it gets cold in L.A. at night!
KRISTEN STEWART OMG. I almost died when she said “yes” to the Selfie. I have been obsessed with K-Stew forever. Let me make it clear, I never fully got TWILIGHT, but it is her body of work including PERSONAL SHOPPER, CLOUDS OF SILS MARIA, PANIC ROOM, ON THE ROAD, THE RUNAWAYS and even more recently CHARLIE’S ANGELS, that I love. I’m sure many have wanted her to disappear but she’s not going nowhere, babe! She just keeps churning-out some outstanding work.
I could’ve swore it was Glenn‘s year at the Oscars. So lovely meeting this brilliant Thespian receiving her final award of last Awards Season for THE WIFE and the Independent Spirit Awards. Her adorable Havanese baby Pip was with her to receive the honour!
I have loved Paul Rudd for years now and knowing he never comes to Toronto, New York Comic Con was that rare chance finally to see him! Love that he’s looking like himself and he’s every bit as friendly as you’d think! But then again, this was a paid Photo Op…
I am one of those people who freaks out every time there is a Spice Girls reunion rumour circulating on Twitter and then go frowny-faced when I realize it’s only “the four of them”. Victoria was in Toronto doing good for Camp Oochigeas and giving her beauty line a plug. It was beyond cold, but so goddamn worth it. Is that a smile I see? 😊 That’s the magic of Mr. Will!
EDDIE MURPHY Umm. So I won’t repeat what Victoria thinks about Eddie Murphy (Google it), but this does not erase how I feel about him as an Entertainer. Thrilled to see Eddie make his resurgence with DOLEMITE IS MY NAME and a triumphant return to the stage on Saturday Night Live this Holiday season. Hedelivered me many age-inappropriate thrills in my younger days with BEVERLY HILLS COP, COMING TO AMERICA and BOOMERANG. But it was DREAMGIRLS that made me truly appreciate his artistry.
TIFFANY x DEBBIE GIBSON
Seriously, ten-year-old me is still freaking-out. Former Teen Pop Idol rivals Tiffany and Debbie Gibson rocked my world as a kid. To see them join forces in this Photo Op as part of NKOTB‘s Mixtape Tour, was epic! Who’d ever have known just a few months later I’d get invited to introduced Tiffany on-stage at her show at Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts? I’m so busy running through life sometimes that I forget to appreciate things like this.
This Funnyman came out of nowhere to steal the show. Bowen is the best thing to happen to Saturday Night Live in quite some time! Better yet, he has the distinction of being the first American-Asian Cast member in the star-making Program! Cheers to diversity!
Our airwaves continue to be dominated by PANIC! AT THE DISCO and we are so stoked we got this Snap with the Band’s Frontman Brendon Urie in New York this October! It was a complete surprise! It wasn’t easy but he posed and made sure I got it. If you haven’t heard their contribution to the FROZEN 2 Soundtrack, INTO THE UNKNOWN, you must. Mind-blowingly-powerful vocals from Urie!
And while we’re on the topic of FROZEN 2, we were so delighted Toronto got its own Fan Event for the Film in November! We deserved it! On Cloud Nine we got to chat with star Kristen Bell, nabbing a signature Team Mr. Will Selfie with Anna herself!
It’s okay, Ja! We know Fyre Festival wasn’t your fault. You’re forgiven. The things we’ve all done for a bit of cash 🙄… doo-doo-doo… Don’t look at me like you’ve never “taken one for the team”! That’s right, move along now!
So yeah, it’s super-awkward when you’re at the office pouring some water into your bottle and someone’s like “Oh! I saw on BlogTO you met Sting!“. Well, thank you Toronto for thinking my Selfies are culturally-relevant. You’re welcome!
2019 was low-key The Boss‘ year. He had his Western Stars album and Documentary arrive and also BLINDED BY THE LIGHT was a love letter to his amazingness. Although I loved him as a kid, this was a year I was reminded once again to appreciate his amazing catalog of Music. Born to Run, Born in the USA, Dancing in the Dark, Lonely Hearts, Glory Days. Timeless. Seeing him at TIFF ’19 was great and he was so amazing going down the line, leaning-in for pictures and waves. So happy I had the video rolling and caught this!
Till next year! Stay tuned next week for Team Mr. Will‘s Best-Of 2019 Lists! Happy Holidays to all of you and your family! May all the stars come your way! Looking forward to killing the game once again in 2020!
We admit it, we are approaching that stage in our life where it is growingly-difficult to stay up past 10. We tried staying-up but alas, the weight of 2019 wore us down and dozed-off, only to take up at 2:30 AM realizing we missed Eddie Murphy and Lizzo on SNL!
God bless PVRs and the fact that NBC Tweets clips of what we missed!
Growing-up watching SNL and the age-inappropriate (for me at least back then!) Comedy of Eddie Murphy was a joy for me and last night was in fact only his third time hosting the long-running late night staple since he left the Show back in the mid-80s. He didn’t disappoint in his return, winning huge raves from the Internet reprising several favourites including Mr. Robinson, Velvet Jones, Gumby and Buckwheat! We loved that these classics were tied-in to today with references like Instagram ‘Hos’, The Masked Singer, Gentrification and more. Brilliant!
Several alumni and friends came out to show support as well including Alec Baldwin, Tracy Morgan, Maya Rudolph, Dave Chappelle, Chris Rock and more!
While stumbling a bit on lines, Murphy proved just as sharp and still has funny. Not even Bill Cosby was spared of the humour, Murphy joking he’d never thought 30 years ago he’d be a boring stay-at-home dad and Cosby would be in jail in his Monologue. Best of all, we love that Murphy goofed and even swore during the Holiday Baking Championship sketch. That was gold! 🏆
Good news Canada, Global Television has the full episode right here for you to enjoy! Click here.
The year belonged to Lizzo, so it’s only fitting she capped it all off in this last SNL episode of 2019, delivering has smash hits Truth Hurts and Good as Hell with a festive holiday flare! We’re sure this is just the first of many appearances to come for her.
HUSTLERS still ranks among our favourites of 2019 and we’re thrilled with Elevation Pictures/Universal Home Pictures Entertainment to give our Readers in Canada a chance to win a Blu-ray copy of this enthralling true story!
Inspired by the viral New York Magazine article “The Hustlers at Scores,” follows a crew of savvy strippers who band together to turn the tables on their Wall Street clients.
Starting in 2007, we meet experienced exotic dancer Ramona (Jennifer Lopez) and newcomer Destiny (Constance Wu). Ramona takes Destiny under her wing and introduces her to the life of an exotic dancer, showing her how the game works. She also learns that the group of strippers she’s become a part of not only dance, but hustle their way into the pockets of their wealthy clients.
However, after the 2008 Wall Street crash, attendance at the club drops off and the dancers struggle to earn money. They devise a scam to coerce potential clubgoers to spend huge amounts of money at the club, with the women getting a large cut of the profits. But this scheme doesn’t work well in the long run.
Includes Blu-ray, DVD and a digital copy of Hustlers (Digital Copy redemption code subject to expiration. See product insert for details.)
Feature Commentary with Director Lorene Scafaria
You know how much we love Ariana. You know how much we love Lizzo. But them together? GOOD AS HELL originally was released in 2016 but thanks to Lizzo’s sudden surge in popularity we are seeing it get new life and now comes this new Remix with Ariana Grande!
Make no mistake, HUSTLERS isn’t just ‘that stripper movie’. Lorene Scafaria (Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist, Ricki and the Flash) is back with this enthralling look at a group of woman, whom after thriving in the business relying much on Wall Street clientele, see it all fall apart after financial crisis ensues in the late 2000s. Refusing to fall in defeat, the women led by Ramona (Jennifer Lopez), band together in a carefully-executed plan, stealing from unassuming wealthy men silenced by the same of their habits being uncovered.
Hustlers is told from the perspective of Destiny (Constance Wu), as it cuts between past and present where she is being interviewed by Elizabeth (Julia Stiles), a journalist reporting on the scandal. Scafaria hones-in on the heart of the story, a story of two women brought together by their determination to care for their families and drive to give themselves a better life, even if it means doing illegal things.
Lopez has never been better. Wu is fantastic as our eyes into this irresistible, dark world which is both scary and fun at once.
HUSTLERS screens at TIFF Sat, Sep 07, Roy Thomson Hall at 9:30pm and Sun, Sep 08, Ryerson Theatre at 6:00pm.
Elevation Pictures x Mr. Will want to give Readers a chance to win Advance Passes to see TIFF ’19 selection HUSTLERS! Screenings take place Wednesday, September 11, 2019 in Vancouver, Ottawa, Calgary, Halifax, Winnipeg and Edmonton.
Synopsis: HUSTLERS follows a crew of savvy former strip club employees who band together to turn the tables on their Wall Street clients. The film was inspired by the article published by New York Magazine entitled “The Hustlers at Scores” written by Jessica Pressler.
We can’t wait for this! J-Lo slays it in this new Trailer for HUSTLERS. But you won’t believe this powerful Supporting Cast! LIZZO! CARDI B! CONSTANCE WU! JULIA STILES! LILI REINHART!We’re hearing whispers of a TIFF ’19 Premiere? We’ll see!
Inspired by the viral New York Magazine article “The Hustlers at Scores,” Hustlers follows a crew of savvy strip club employees who band together to turn the tables on their Wall Street clients.
We meet experienced exotic dancer Ramona (Jennifer Lopez), and newcomer Destiny (Constance Wu), who learns from Ramona the art of pole dancing. She also learns that the group of strippers she’s become a part of not only dance, but hustle their way into the pockets of their wealthy clients.
See the Trailer:
Elevation Pictures release HUSTLERS this September!
Success has long been in the making for LIZZO, the Detroit-born and Minneapolis-based Singer/Songwriter/Rapper and Actress. After cutting her teeth in Indie circles, she subsequently was signed to Atlantic Records in 2015, quietly developing herself into Music’s now and next girl. Connecting to audiences with her message of body positivity and self-love, she has been filling theatres on her Cuz I Love You Tour, supporting her major label debut Album of the same name. Toronto was no exception as she sold-out The Danforth Music Hall quickly. A second leg has been added to the Tour, her popularity propelled by a recent appearance at Coachella which drew rave reviews. Due to overwhelming demand once again, she had been upgraded to Budweiser Stage this September only to sell-out yet again!
Lizzo has hit a sweet spot in her career, her single Juice poised to become one of 2019’s biggest breakout hits, hitting #1 on Billboard‘s Bubbling-Under Chart and her Album debuting in the Top Ten. The Album, a mixture of Old and New School R&B, winning universal critical acclaim. She has come a long way since last playing Toronto’s Velvet Underground to a half-filled venue.
Lizzo, who stars in UglyDolls currently, zipped through her catalogue of hits including her first ever Top 50-charting hit Truth Hurts; her Album’s title track; self-love celebrating Soulmate; the empowering Like a Girl which gave her a moment to comment on the abortion ban in Alabama; and closing number Juice which had the audience singing aloud in unison. The audience was moved to tears by her encouraging words and uplifting spirit and even she noted there was something special about the Toronto audience that made the night extra-emotional.
See some Snaps (hover cursor right to navigate slideshow):
The audience was treated to an energetic opening set from Tayla Parx, an emerging act who has penned smash hits High Hopes (Panic! At the Disco), Love Lies (Normani x Khaled), 7 Rings (Ariana Grande), Thank You, Next (Ariana Grande) and also has contributed to Grammy-winning Best New Artist Dua Lipa‘s eagerly-awaited sophomore Disc.
Houston-born Singer/Songwriter/Actor/Rapper/Floutist LIZZO is on the verge of becoming an icon. Her undeniable talent had her front and center, with everyone talking about her performance these past two weekends at Coachella. Her brazen, body-positive outlook is making a believers out of everyone and her current single JUICE, quickly is impacting airwaves en route to becoming one of the biggest breakout hits of 2019.
We admit we are in love and want more. Her debut on Atlantic Records, CUZ I LOVE YOU is now out via Warner Music Canada and we can’t wait too for you to discover her. She is amazing. She lifts us up and takes us to a happy place.
Check-out some of her genius below:
CUZ I LOVE YOU
TEMPO (ft. MISSY ELLIOT)
LIKE A GIRL
Lizzo plays Toronto’s Danforth Music HallThursday, May 16, 2019. New date added September 19, 2019 at Rebel.
Warner Music Canada release CUZ I LOVE YOUFriday, April 19, 2019.