With both the Holidays and Awards Season approaching, December can be a joyous time indeed for us with a big slate of new releases to surface. Here’s some of our recommendations across various screening platforms, including some theatrical releases!
HAPPIEST SEASON (EONE FILMS/AMAZON PRIME VIDEO)
Clea Duvall co-writes and directs this Holiday Rom-Com with a fresh take on expanding the idea the type of relationships the genre includes. Kristen Stewart stars as Abby, who is ready to propose to her live-in girlfriend Harper (Mackenzie Davis) as they get ready to spend the Holidays at the latter’s home for the first time. There is one hitch, Harper still hasn’t officially come out to them yet despite telling Abby she did, and that it went well. The daughter of a politician, image is everything for her family and this keeps holding her back from being her true self and matters get confused as former flames resurface in the visit which make the couple question their commitment to one another.
While ultimately meant to be heartwarming, tonally Duvall goes to heavier places as the couple gets pulled apart and its message is something the world needs a bit more of, hence its release is timely. Stewart has a knack for bringing her characters a ton of history and her Abby feels truly lived-in, while Davis spends much of the Film embattled in Harper‘s fears and in the shadow of her rival sister Sloane (Alison Brie). Canada’s Dan Levy delivers some much-needed comedic relief as Abby‘s confidante John and we wish the Film had even more of that. That being said, this is a Holiday story which many will identify with and feel seen by. And who knows, Stewart just might win over even more new fans here!
eOne Films release HAPPIEST SEASON Digitally and On-Demand Friday, November 26, 2020. It arrives on Amazon Prime VideoThursday, December 10, 2020.
We knew very little until only recently about this latest effort from Sharon Maguire (Bridget Jones’s Diary, Bridget Jones’s Baby) and now we can’t imagine life before it. Right in time for the Holidays comes this whimsical and fantastical Comedy which centers on Eleanor (Jillian Bell) who is out to prove to the world that Fairy Godmothers are needed. She finds a letter written by Mackenzie (Isla Fisher) when she was 10-years-old, only to realize now that she has grown into a widowed, 40-year-old single mother of two, stuck in a job at a newsroom with a miserable boss. Needless to say, she’s given-up a little on the “happily ever after” she dreamed of as a girl. Eleanor, whether Mackenzie wants it or not, is here to grant her wish but we wonder if Eleanor ever be more than just a Tooth Fairy with this challenging task ahead!
Bell is an absolute joy, hitting what is a sweet spot in her career after last year’s acclaimed Brittany Runs a Marathon. She brings a Will Ferrell-Elf-esque enthusiasm and curiosity to the world which is infectious. Fisher also is a pleasure to watch as she channels Mackenzie‘s cynicism in a way many of us see the world right now. Maguire manages to craft a magical experience which lifts the spirits, yet balancing what it means to expand our definition of what happily ever after means and who it involves in our lives and we’re here for this.
GODMOTHERED arrives on Disney+ Friday, December 4, 2020.
Prior to his passing, Screenwriter and father of David, Jack Fincher, had completed a Script for MANK, based the life of Herman J. Mankiewicz, also a Screenwriter.After many years in incubation as a passion project, the Film finally got made by the younger Fincher. The Film recounts its titular character’s well-documented fight to get credit for co-writing what would go on to be one of the greatest films ever made, CITIZEN KANE.Mank (Gary Oldman), who prior had been brought aboard to help as a Script Doctor on The Wizard of Oz – without credit – isn’t particularly a likable type. He’s an alcoholic, a gambling addict and in fact, others call his wife “Poor Sarah” (Tuppence Middleton). Mank’s outspoken in his political beliefs and his support of Democrat Upton Sinclair, who is viewed by powerful Hollywood types as a Socialist. This puts him at odds with the powers that be. He’s tasked with helping co-write CITIZEN KANE, which Orson Welles (Tom Burke) produced, starred, directed and co-wrote. From here, we see a heated battle between Welles and the unpopular Mank as the latter fights to secure himself a credit on the eventual masterpiece. More so, we see how the battles within his own life found their place in CITIZEN KANE – his alcoholism, going against the machine and career sabotage. Mank had nothing to left to lose, refusing to go down without a fight. And we’re here for it.
While the Film might not be for everyone, it is a must-watch for true Cinephiles and those obsessed with the history of Cinema. Fincher‘s direction and some of the performances are meticulously-faithful to the period. Carrying almost all of the weight is Oldman who transforms completely and he mesmerizes in the manner of passersby staring at a car crash on a highway. We are concerned for and empathetic of the driver in the wreckage. Amanda Seyfried plays actress Marion Davies, whom Mank befriends. She is the mistress of William Randolph Hearst (Charles Dance), a media mogul and backer of MGM who inspires the character Susan Alexander, albeit an untalented entertainer and second wife of the titular character in CITIZEN KANE. Seyfried is so committed, poised and sweet that what Mank does feels like a huge betrayal.
This certainly is a Film which Awards Season was made for and just may replicate the Oscars success which CITIZEN KANE achieved. MANK arrives on Netflix Friday, December 4, 2020.
SHAWN MENDES: IN WONDER (NETFLIX)
Fan of Pickering’s Shawn Mendes will revel in delight at this Documentary by veteran Music Video Director Grant Singer. The Singer-Songwriter rapidly has shot to stardom and makes his first foray into the world of Film with recent collaborations with TIFF and now this companion to his upcoming fourth Disc, WONDER coming early December. The Film gives us an intimate (literally we go right into the shower with him) look at his daily life, which really presents him as someone who is level-headed and taking his fame into stride. In one scene he is driving around downtown and a man asks him roll-down his window to give his daughter a video shoutout. We learn about Mendes‘ creative process writing material for the new Album and he goes back to older, soulful influences this time around and one thing I found particularly interesting is to protect his voice from the rigours of touring, he takes vocal rests finding alternate ways to communicate on rest days. While nothing earth-shattering is revealed here really, it is an essential watch for fans or those who appreciate his Music and believe me, there are many! SHAWN MENDES: IN WONDER arrives on Netflix Tuesday, November 24, 2020.
SOUND OF METAL (PACIFIC NORTHWEST PICTURES/AMAZON PRIME)
Riz Ahmed delivers a career-best performance in Darius Marder‘s SOUND OF METAL,which after a run on the Festival circuit, including TIFF ’19 gets its debut at long last. Ahmed plays Drummer Ruben Stone whose hearing rapidly is deteriorating and after battling heroine addiction for years, he now is sober. While resisting help from the Deaf Community, the Film centers itself on his humbling journey accepting help, with the urging of his bandmate girlfriend Lou (Olivia Cooke). Ruben is his own enemy in many regards and at the core of SOUND OF METAL which while being set in the chaotic world of screamy Death Growls, is something heartfelt and a meaningful coming-of-age.
Ahmed and Cooke disappear completely into Ruben and Lou and their transformations are sympathetic and affecting. A bit of a slow-burn but a rewarding watch.
Pacific Northwest Pictures release SOUND OF METAL in theatres Friday, November 20, 2020 and it arrives on Amazon Prime Video in the U.S. and it is available digitally and on-demand in Canada Friday, December 4, 2020.
Anna Sewell’s BLACK BEAUTY is a love story that captures the bond between human and animal so beautifully that it should come as no surprise that it still stands the test of time some 143 years after it was written. Ashley Avis, formerly a competitive Equestrian, takes the reins on Disney+‘s adaptation of the story for a new audience. Along with this heartfelt timeless tale, we get updated messaging and more inclusion in casting.
This version centers on Jo Green (Mackenzie Foy), who is sent to live with her Uncle John (Iain Glen). While she is reluctant to warm-up to him, she does strike a bond with his filly (narrated by Kate Winslet) a wild Mustang who is acquired to be broken-in and sold. The horse changes Jo‘s life forever, helping her find herself but circumstances separate the two and we wonder if they ever will reunite again as she is treated like a commodity, changing hands multiple times.
Foy as always is great and she is fascinating to see develop into a dramatic actress and while we appreciate how the Film treats animal rights with the right delicateness and sympathy it deserves, ultimately it is paced in a way where things happen a couple beats too quickly, without fleshing-out key characters and their involvement with the Plot. And at times, the dialogue feels perhaps too simplistic even though we appreciate that the Film caters to a young audience. That being said, Winslet’s narration tugs on all the right heartstrings and you do feel something for her and her beloved friend, Jo.
BLACK BEAUTY arrives on Disney+ Friday, November 27, 2020.
THE CHRISTMAS CHRONICLES: PART TWO (NETFLIX)
If there’s anyone who knows the spirit of nostalgia, it’s Director Chris Columbus who has brought us classics like Adventures in Babysitting, Home Alone (1 and 2), Mrs. Doubtfire and a litany of others. He directs and co-writes the sequel to 2018’s popular The Christmas Chronicles and while the first Film was very enjoyable, this installment has a wondrous, fantastical element to it that truly captures the joy of the Holidays.
Back again are Kate (Darby Camp) and Teddy (Judah Lewis) as they find themselves spending Christmas on a resort with their mom Claire (Kimberly Williams-Paisley), her new boyfriend Bob (Tyrese) and his son Jack (Jahzir Bruno).Kate is faced with the fear of her deceased father being forgotten and wishes to escape and together with Jack, they find themselves transported off to the North Pole with Santa (Kurt Russell) and Mrs. Claus (Goldie Hawn), where the elves have gone out of control. One elf gone rogue, Belsnickel (Julian Dennison) threatens to ruin Christmas forever with the potential of a world without a Santa Claus. It is up to Kate and Jack to help save Christmas and also, will Kate get her long-awaited wish of finally getting to see her father?
THE CHRISTMAS CHRONICLES: PART TWO is none short of the boisterous, sparkly fun we’re totally here for. The Film belongs entirely to Camp and Russell who both are fantastic and Hawn is a welcome addition to the Franchise, a perfect warm and nurturing Mrs. Claus. Hijinx aside, the Film hits all the right notes emotionally, feeling exactly like a Holiday film should! We wouldn’t be surprised if this got several viewings this Holiday season. Streaming now on Netflix.
SMALL AXE (AMAZON PRIME VIDEO)
It’s been a minute since we’ve heard from Academy Award-winning Director Steven McQueen (12 Years a Slave, Shame, Widows), but he’s back with an innovating new Mini-Series of five Films centering on the West Indian-immigrant experience in London in the ’60s and ’70s. While the subject matter is timely, with #BlackLivesMatter being at the forefront of discussion this past year, McQueen’s storytelling is timeless as we are transported right into the era.
The first Film in the Series, Mangrove, is about nine black activists arrest for inciting a riot after police had targeted a restaurant of the same name in Notting Hill. In a fight for their rights and the rights of the future generation, the group choose to represent themselves in court. What plays out is an intense court battle featuring some truly compelling performances from Shaun Parkes (Doctor Who), Malachi Kirby (Black Mirror) and Letitia Wright (Black Panther). McQueen masterfully examines racial hatred from both sides of the argument and this is a fantastic start to the Series.
The second Film, Lovers Rock is a sensual Romance set within a party where we meet Martha (Amarah-Jae St. Aubyn) who sneaks out of her bedroom at night, and Franklyn (Michael Ward). The lighting is gorgeous and we are swept away into their looming love affair. McQueen has a masterful way of transporting us into the moment through music and the scenes just breathe beautifully as the songs play. While most of the story is set within the party itself, he paints a picture of the world these characters are living in at the time when we get brief glimpses of how unsafe things can get just stepping away from that safety net.
The remainder of the films arrive December 4, 2020 on Amazon Prime Video.
SELENA: THE SERIES (NETFLIX)
Throughout the late ’80s and early ’90s, Selena became the queen of Tejano music. Managed by her father and supported by her siblings in her band, this tight-knit family went from performing at weddings, while living on the road to Selena becoming one of the most successful Latin artists of all time. That is, before she was murdered in 1995 at the age of 23, by the manager of her boutiques. This happened tragically, just as she was set to launch internationally with her debut English album.
The detail-obsessed Series is crafted heavily with the input of the Quintanilla family so what we get here are ten quick-moving episodes that recount the family’s struggles from having very little, but were ignited by an undying commitment and belief in themselves. Rather than being entirely focused on Selena, we get the story from all sides of the family and we truly feel the tension between them in how tightly-knit they were. Fantastic performances from our lead Christian Serratos (The Walking Dead) and Ricardo Chavira (Desperate Housewives). Even at the end of the ten episodes the complete story isn’t told, cleverly leaving room for a second season. A must-watch for fans and intriguing enough to win over new fans who aren’t familiar with Selena‘s legacy.
SELENA: THE SERIES streams Friday, December 4, 2020 on Netflix.
ALL MY LIFE (UNIVERSAL PICTURES CANADA)
Based on a true story that happened right here in Toronto, ALL MY LIFE recounts the tale of a young couple, Solomon (Harry Shum Jr.) and Jennifer (Jessica Rothe). The couple whom after receiving tragic news, still forge ahead with plans to have a fairy tale wedding with the help of their friends who help them raise the funds to make it happen.
Marc Meyers (My Friend Dahmer) directs this tale which at times tugs on the heartstrings, but in moving along rapidly, misses the opportunity to delve deep into the couple’s love and their struggles during Solomon’s health battles which could’ve made this a bit more impactful, giving us more to root for. A solid performance from Rothe (Happy Death Day) in the lead role, though we wish a bit more room was given for the talented Supporting Cast which includes Jay Pharaoh (Saturday Night Live), Keala Settle (The Greatest Showman) and Mario Cantone (Sex and the City). There is definitely an audience for a Film like this.
ALL MY LIFE opens in theatres Friday, December 4, 2020. Please ensure you observe COVID-19 protocols if seeing this in theatres.
MARIAH CAREY’S MAGICAL CHRISTMAS SPECIAL (APPLE TV+)
Based on the premise that 2020 has been… not so great, the Queen of Christmas, Mariah Carey is here to help save Christmas. Joining her on this 45-minute adventure is an understandably starstruck Billy Eichner as Santa‘s Assistant, with a story narrated by Tiffany Haddish. Several famous friends join Carey including Ariana Grande and Jennifer Hudson on a new rendition of Oh Santa!, which stands a chance at being a successor to modern classic All I Want for Christmas is You! The Peanuts Gang also make an appearance as do the likes of Snoop Dogg and long-time collaborator Jermaine Dupri. While festive and well-being including a touching rendition of Silent Night, the Special’s emotional high note is its Encore, where Carey delivers an extra festive Aspen-set performance of her biggest Holiday smash and her twins Moroccan and Monroe even come on out to support their Mom! We live for this and even if another Carey Holiday Special doesn’t come for a while, this one will do on-rotation! Mariah Carey’s Magical Christmas Special streams now on Apple TV+.
EUPHORIA: TROUBLE DON’T LAST ALWAYS (HBO/CRAVE)
While it’ll be a while till we see Season Two of HBO‘s Euphoria, two special Holiday episodes of the acclaimed Series are amidst us, to tie us over. Director/Writer Sam Levinson goes deep as we ponder the Holidays with Rue (a recent Emmy-winning Zendaya) and her friend Ali (Colman Domingo) where they question their existence and what it means to cope with addiction, sobriety and some of the destructive things they had done in their lives to the ones who love them. Rue is coping with Jules (Hunter Schafer) leaving her, which leads her on a downward spiral again. Phenomenal, intimate performances in what feels like it could’ve been a stage production. A reminder that the Holidays aren’t a happy time for everyone. The first special episode is available to stream now on Crave with the HBO add-on, with the second arriving January 2021.
SUGAR RUSH CHRISTMAS SEASON 2 (NETFLIX)
You know how much we love our baking shows and we’re so delighted SUGAR RUSH is back for a second season with its Christmas edition. Lots of exciting and exhilarating baking challenges here in this second season where contestants are challenged with tasks like making creations inspired by Christmas Carols, the North Pole, Advent Calendars, Peanuts and more. The finished products as always look to-die-for and we wish we could taste everything too! Celebrity guests include Chris Bosh, Abigail Breslin, Jordin Sparks, among others! Adore this. Season 2 is streaming now.
FABULOUS LIVES OF BOLLYWOOD WIVES (NETFLIX)
We’re told Bollywood is different from Hollywood in that Bollywood stars maintain much more mystique than many of those stars those in Hollywood who have embraced oversharing on Social Media. This new Series comprised of eight episodes, takes us right inside the worlds of Neelam Kothari Soni, Maheep Kapoor, Seema Khan and Bhavana Pandey, whom are longtime best friends and among Bollywood’s elite. With a Kardashians-like view, we get a glimpse into their glamorous, although they consider it mundane, lives. All isn’t always rosy as passions too flare at times as these friends too have unresolved issues that get brought to the table. Don’t know much about the world of Bollywood? Don’t worry, they explain these relationships well and drama knows no cultural boundaries. Maheep is the loud, assertive one. Neelam is a former Actress pondering relaunching her career. Seema is all about protecting her family even though we understand her husband isn’t always around. Bhavna plays Devil’s Advocate which can be problematic when a friend wants her support. Fabulous Lives of Bollywood Lives is streaming now on Netflix.
THE UNDOING (HBO/CRAVE)
This six-part Mini-Series directed by Susanne Bier and and written by David E. Kelley, is adapted from the Novel You Should Have Known by Jean Hanff Korelitz.The Undoing centers on a privileged family, Jonathan (Hugh Grant), Grace (Nicole Kidman) and their son Henry (Noah Jupe) who are impacted in the aftermath of a woman’s death. With Jonathan standing accused of murder, Grace is left to put together the pieces how her husband could have been done this. The story masterfully twists and turns as we no longer know what to believe and who is reliable right up to the gripping conclusion.
Phenomenal work as expected from Kidman who is forced to dig deep and find the truth, leaning on her father Franklin (a strong performance by Donald Sutherland) for guidance. Jupe is coming into his own as a fine Actor with a goodheartedness that makes it all the more unbelievable that such a grounded family could be dealing with something so awful. Grant is the biggest surprise here and while we’re used to seeing him in Holiday movies around this time of year. Looking back, it all makes perfect sense.
THE UNDOING streams now on Crave with the HBO add-on.
STYLISH WITH JENNA LYONS (HBO MAX/CRAVE)
Better known as “The Woman Who Dressed America” at the height of J.Crew‘s popularity, the retailer’s former President Jenna Lyons is a fashion icon in her own right. Since her time with J.Crew had ended, she’s been a bit more on the quiet side, but she’s back as she makes her foray into Home Design and Beauty. She’s looking to add to her Team and goes on a search for the next Associate as fresh new talent have a chance to prove they have what it takes to work with her on this eight-episode Series. What is interesting is that the finalists must work against unconventional conditions as the competition is halted amidst the Pandemic and picks-up again, forcing Lyons to alter her course. We love the assured way in which she speaks and mentors, which comes with a gentle grace and assuredness. The Series gets intimate as was also learn about her life and her own challenges. STYLISH WITH JENNA LYONS is available to stream now on Crave with the HBO add-on.
THE FLIGHT ATTENDANT (HBO MAX/CRAVE)
Cassie (Kaley Cuoco) is a flight attendant coping with Alcoholism, living her life recklessly between stop-offs. On a flight to Bangkok, she meets a handsome stranger in Alex (Michiel Huisman) and after an enchanting, alcohol-fueled night out, she wakes-up to find him dead in the bed beside her. As she runs away from the situation, trying to stay under the radar, she must confront her past, her addiction and relationships, and gets to know Alex better as he surfaces as an apparition to her. The Series has a chaotic energy to it which keeps things fun and lively, and Cuoco is a perfect casting choice. Also Girls’ Zosia Mamet surfaces as Cassie‘s delightfully-funny lawyer/best friend Annie. THE FLIGHT ATTENDANT streams on Crave with HBO add-on, new episodes weekly.
Shawn Mendes fans will be delighted about this! A new Documentary about Pickering’s finest is set to arrive on Netflix next month!
GRAMMY nominated, multi-platinum singer/songwriter Shawn Mendes and longtime manager Andrew Gertler partner with Netflix to release “IN WONDER” globally on November 23. The debut feature length documentary, a TIFF special event selection, from acclaimed music video director Grant Singer (The Weeknd, Lorde, Sam Smith), is a portrait of Mendes‘ life, chronicling the past few years of his rise and journey. Executive produced by Andrew Gertler, Shawn Mendes, & Ben Winston; produced by Saul Germaine, p.g.a and James Haygood. This announcement comes on the heels of the release of “Wonder,” the title track off Mendes’ forthcoming album.
The 2020 TIFF TRIBUTE AWARDS, now in its second year, took place tonight virtually and were aired on CTV. Hosted by eTalk’s newest addition Co-Anchor Tyrone Edwards and Chloe Wilde, the Awards in the absence of an in-person gala this year, were comprised of taped introductions and speeches from recipients in five categories.
Recipients tonight included Director Mira Nair at TIFF ’20 with A SUITABLE BOY; Terence Blanchard who scored Regina King‘s acclaimed TIFF ’20 selection ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI; Tracey Deer who directs this year’s BEANS; Sir Anthony Hopkins who stars in THE FATHER at the Festival; Director Chloé Zhao, at the Festival with NOMADLAND; and Kate Winslet who stars in very buzzed AMMONITE.
Presenters and speakers on the broadcast included: Regina King, Martin Scorsese, Delroy Lindo, Colin Farrell, Rosamund Pike, Ava DuVernay, Jodi Foster, Olivia Colman, Brie Larson, Jason Reitman and more.
Performing Stevie Wonder‘s Stevie Wonder’s “Love’s in Need of Love Today“, Toronto’s Shawn Mendes appeared on the broadcast announcing that his Shawn Mendes Foundation will launch an annual Changemaker Award for Filmmakers making film with a social message.
Frontline workers from Toronto area hospitals also have been invited to attend special screenings of some of the Festival’s marquee Films like CONCRETE COWBOY as a special gesture of thanks for their hard work amidst these challenging times.
Those honoured tonight and some memorable quotes:
TIFF IMPACT AWARD – MIRA NAIR
Nair: “When I work, it feels like fun. Thanks TIFF for an award to have my fun and the extraordinary privilege to make Cinema. To know my fun and art have made change which is a beautiful feeling. If we don’t tell our stories nobody will, but more so in this, I’ve learned the great power of listening and being porous.”.
TIFF VARIETY ARTISAN AWARD – TERENCE BLANCHARD
Blanchard: “I’m humbled by this entire experience. My life in Film has been one of growth and expansion for decades. I originally set-out to be Jazz performer but being in this realm has expanded my creative ability beyond my belief. I love Toronto and have been coming many years. To get award from place I love so much, warms my heart.”.
TIFF EMERGING TALENT AWARD – TRACEY DEER
Deer: “I’ve wanted be Filmmaker since I was 12 and now I’m living my dream come true. Thank you my community… and the biggest thanks to my mother who told me when I was a girl that I can do whatever I want and not let anyone get in my way. My mother is always right and this is something indigenous kids need to hear. Their voices are important and we need to create an environment they can feel safe in and I put out a challenge to do all we can to make it better for them.”.
TIFF TRIBUTE ACTORS AWARD – SIR ANTHONY HOPKINS
Hopkins: “I’m astonished I’m still in work at my age. I want to thank front-line workers and first responders around the world. This award is yours. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Have a great day, have a great life.”.
TIFF EBERT DIRECTOR AWARD – CHLOÉ ZHAO
Zhao: “I’m so amazed by the hard work TIFF has done putting a festival together, to help us take a break from all the craziness this year. It’s incredible what you have done. One most important takeaway I have from my four films is that when I entered the industry I felt it was competitive and didn’t know anyone. If I fail or make mistakes, I carry this with me for a long time. I feel lucky people I work with are there when I succeed and when I fail. Would like to share this with them.”.
TIFF TRIBUTE ACTOR AWARD – KATE WINSLET
Winslet: “It does feel odd to get an award in a time like this. Since I am able to say few words., I’d like to offer my deepest sympathies to families and individuals whose lives forever have been altered over the past six months. I commend TIFF for keeping the poignancy of storytelling alive. Even more so as we piece together this world and everything happening in it. However minor my thoughts might be, my feelings are heartfelt that we can return to a healthier reality with kindness and respect regardless of race, gender, beliefs or sexual orientation.”.
Even though they were pushed back a bit this year, it was better late than never for the 2018 iHeartRadio Much Music Video Awards. The event celebrating the tastes of Canadian Music fans, took over Bell Media headquearters at 299 Queen Street saw headliners Shawn Mendes, Halsey, 5 Seconds of Summer, Alessia Cara and more perform before a live outdoor audience, seen across the country on CTV. The fixture held annually on Father’s Day, was pushed back till now.
Filling hosting duties was Awkwafina, Star of Box Office hits OCEAN’S8 and CRAZY RICH ASIANS joking with the audience how she has the voice of a wrestler and the body of a Pikachu.
Among the big winners of the night were Pickering’s Mendes who won Best Pop Artist of the Year and Fan Fave Artist and Fan Fave Video for In My Blood. Halsey was named Artist for Change, while Toronto’s “6ixGod” Drake won Best Hip Hop Artist, seeing his track God’s Plan win Best Director – emerging young talent Karena Evans receiving the honour. Bebe Rexha’s duet with Florida Georgia Line,Meant to Be, won her Best Collaboration. Coveted Video of the Year went to Logic ft. Khalid and Brampton native Alessia Cara‘s 1-800-273-8255. Toronto’s Loud Luxury won Song of the Summer for Body (featuring Brando).
We were out and about sighting the stars and see who we saw!
Taking place at Vancouver’s Rogers Arena tonight, the 47th annual JUNO Awards took place, celebrating the best in Canadian achievements on a national and international stage. The themes of truth and reconciliation were front and center tonight in light of recent social movements like #TimesUp and #MeToo.
The late Gord Downie was honoured winning Artist of the Year. Brothers Patrick and Mike accepted the Award on his behalf, stating “All this love and support is really helping the healing. This is Gord‘s Award. He’s Artist of the Year but he was our man of a lifetime.”. He was paid tribute to also by friends Dallas Green (City and Colour) and Sarah Harmer via song during the CBC Broadcast. Downie himself was awarded post-humously alongside Kevin Drew as Songwriter of the Year for their work on A Natural, Introduce Yerself and The North on his Album Introduce Yerself, released October 2017. He also won for Adult Alternative Album of the Year.
Receiving major recognition tonight also was Montreal’s Arcade Fire winning Album of the Year for Everything Now. The Band also were recognized for their body of contributions, receiving the International Achievement Award.
Michael Bublé, who prior to tonight had won 12 JUNOs, filled hosting duties after being unable to do so last year due to his son Noah falling ill.
He won for Adult Contemporary Album of the Year for Nobody But Me and confirmed earlier in the evening that he and his wife Luisana Lopiloto are expecting a second child. Fellow Vancouver native Diana Krall who won Vocal Jazz Album and Producer of the Year for her Album Turn Up the Quiet would join him on-stage in a duet of Nat King Cole‘s Love.
Another major highlight was Canadian Outfit Barenaked Ladies coming together on-stage for a one-night-only reunion, marking the Band’s 30th anniversary. The Band this year are inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. Steven Page had embarked on a solo career in 2009 and joined his Bandmates on-stage and each of them individually thanked those who were a part of their success in a comical song which drew thunderous applause from the crowd.
Pickering’s Shawn Mendes won Single of the Year for There’s Nothing Holdin’ me Back and also the Fan Choice Award, although he wasn’t in attendance as he preps his upcoming Album.
Kendrick Lamar won International Album of the Year for DAMN.
Toronto’s LIGHTS was awarded Pop Album of the Year for her Disc, Skin & Earth.
Brampton’s Jessie Reyez scored for Breakthrough Artist. Her hit Figures reached #58 on the Canadian Billboard Hot 100, which she performed live on the Broadcast joined by fellow Torontonian Daniel Caesar, who won R&B/Soul Recording of the Year for his Track, Freudian.
As the din of the screams, tears and cheers that greeted Shawn Mendes, the last person to walk down the red carpet, dissipated into the air, I entered the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts to watch returning Master of Ceremony, the very charming and professional Jason Priestley, host and introduce the most deserving inductees to this year’s CANADA’S WALK OF FAME.
Before each of the inductees had their moments to shine on the beautifully-adorned stage (which had screened clips and interviews of previous honorees that included Michael J. Fox and Anne Murray before the show started) there was a buzz of anticipation in the air. It is not very often that we get the chance to see some of the greatest talents this country has to offer.
Olympic gold medalist, Silken Laumann, spoke of courage and overcoming adversity. A somewhat unusually subdued Don Cherry and the very eloquent Ron MacLean showed us why they were so deserving of this accolade. After the effusive introduction from songstress extraordinaire Molly Johnson, author of “The Book of Negroes” (and brother to singer Dan Hill), a humble Laurence Hill, mesmerized the audience with his personal story of family and strength. Multi-talented and multiple Gemini Award winning actress, Wendy Crewson, gave the most passionate and fiery speech about the art of the craft that had the audience cheering. I have become even a bigger fan of Shawn Mendes, after he shyly and nervously accepted the Allan Slaight Award, then came back later in the show to sing two songs. This talented young man from Pickering has class AND talent!
There was then a lovely tribute to the late, Ottawa-born Lorne Greene who will be forever known as Ben Cartwright in the television classic, “Bonanza”. Vancouver Canucks‘ Trevor Linden had fun talking about the lack of hockey skills the last inductee. Michael Bublé, has, but what Bublé lacks on the ice, he more than makes up for in talent! Not only does he command the stage when he sings, in accepting his award, Michael Bublé was the consummate entertainer. His speech was funny, slightly ribald, modest and genuinely moving when he talked about his wife and son. Newly-minted Canadian, Johnny Reid, ended the show with an inspirational song from his new album.
You may have noticed that I have been vague about many of the exciting things that occurred on stage at the CANADA’S WALK OF FAME celebrations. My intent is to tease only and ensure you watch this show, as I will again, when it is televised on the Global Network on Thursday, December 17, 2015 at 8 PM EST. Watching it will give you another reason to be a proud Canadian! More here.
Teen Pop Sensation Shawn Mendes continues his massive ascent. The Pickering native after receiving the Allan Slaight Award earlier this month at the Canadian Walk of Fame Awards and touring in support of Taylor Swift‘s 1989 Tour now is set to embark on a series of Holiday shows this month including stops in New York, Dallas, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Arizona, Washington and more.
Just having re-released his Billboard Chart-topping debut disc Handwritten (Revisited), 17-year-old Mendes has a new single ready to impact airwaves, I Know What You Did Last Summer, featuring Camilla Cabello of Fifth Harmony.
Check it it below:
It was amazing to see fame hasn’t changed Mendes who was kind to stop a few minutes to chat with Fans, accommodating Selfies, Facetimes with Fans’ friends, autographs and hugs. We ran into Mendes with Billy at Walmart earlier this year (read here) and had another pleasant experience with the star!
Canada’s Walk of Fame 2015 took place at Sony Centre for the Performing Arts yesterday and our George Kozera was there to partake in the festivities!
The ceremony now in its 17th year, rolls out the red carpet and shines a bright light on Canadian talent and excellence over an array of fields: entertainment, science, politics and sports. Among those honoured at the ceremony yesterday were:
Michael Bublé Don Cherry & Ron MacLean Lawrence Hill Silken Laumann Wendy Crewson Lorne Greene
While these names were celebrated, other Canadian notables also were present including this year’s Allan Slaight Award recipient and Pickering teen pop sensation Shawn Mendes, lauded for his musical accomplishments including a Billboard Hot 200-topping 2015 debut, Handwritten.
TV star Jason Priestley returned home to Canada to host the affair, while Actress/Singer Jill Hennessy who was in town supporting her new disc I Do, walked the carpet also. The Vancouver Canucks’ Trevor Linden also was on-hand to present to Michael Bublé and Canadian crooners Johnny Reid and Molly Johnson also were on-hand.
This year’s inductees join a prestigious trail of stars who have been immortalized with their names engraved on stars situated on the sidewalk around King Street West x Simcoe Street in our Entertainment District.
Canada’s Walk of Fame 2015 airs Thursday, December 17, 2015 at 8pm EST/PST on Global Television. George‘s recap to come.
Australian Singer-Songwriter Vance Joy made a huge splash with his breakout hit Riptide earlier this year, gaining worldwide recognition. Joy is in Toronto today promoting his debut disc Dream Your Life Away (Deluxe Edition), prior to opening for Taylor Swift on her 1989 World Tour tonight at Rogers Centre. Tourmate, Toronto’s Shawn Mendes was here yesterday partaking in We Day celebrations, even walking the carpet and greeting fans!
The striking 27-year-old artist with flawless hair, appeared on both City‘s Breakfast Television with a two-song performance, before trekking over to Global‘s The Morning Show (National Edition) where also he performed live. We caught-up with him leaving an appearance and he was more than nice to come over for a Snap before heading out to do more press.
Did you know he formerly was an Aussie Rules Football Player?
See his performance of new single Fire and the Flood on The Morning Show:
In case you haven’t discovered Joy‘s outstanding music, you can download his debut disc Dream Your Life Awayhere.