Spy: And the winners are … Spy’s best of 2020

As we prepare to farewell 2020, Spy editor Ricardo Simich presents his annual awards for the stars who made their mark this year – mostly for the right reasons.

The All Blacks, their babies and the superstar wives holding it together

The year served up more than a few curve balls for All Blacks Beauden Barrett and TJ Perenara. Rugby game delays and keeping fit in lockdown were just the start.

Both had babies due with wives Hannah and Greer, who gave birth in October and August respectively.

The Barretts welcomed daughter Billie Rose, the Perenara’s welcomed daughter, Amaia.

Every precious moment of those first few months was lapped up by the new dads, in between Bledisloe Cup games, before leaving for the Rugby Championship campaign in Australia.

At times, it wasn’t clear if the ABs would make it back out of Oz and quarantine for Christmas. Both Barrett and Perenara were due in Japan after completing their black jersey commitments across the Ditch. It was left to Hannah and Greer to prep for their moves to Japan on top of caring for their newborns – and organising doggie daycare for their pups.

The Perenaras are now set up in Osaka, where TJ is playing for the NTT DoCoMo Red Hurricanes and the Barretts are settled in Tokyo, where Beauden is playing for Suntory Sungoliath.

The reality stars who found third place a charm

Sometimes missing out on first place has a silver lining. That was the case for engineer Quinn Ryan, when he appeared in the first season of The Bachelorette NZ this year. The series’ second Bachelorette, reality show veteran Lily McManus, had Ryan in her final three but chose romance with clothing designer Richie Boyens.

But a few months later Ryan found love with another rejected hopeful from the franchise.

Claudia Hoskins, who was one of Zac Franich’s final three on The Bachelor in 2017, contacted Ryan on Instagram and romance quickly followed. Jewellery, parachute jumping, jetboating and camping followed before the meeting of the parents.

Hoskins has just packed up her life and her job in fashion in Auckland and has moved toHawke’s Bay to be with her man.

The movie stars

Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst, Tim Roth and John Cho are just some on the long list of international talent that filmed in New Zealand this year.

No sooner had Sherlock Holmes star Cumberbatch and Spiderman star Dunst moved to Auckland for the second part of filming Jane Campion’s Netflix movie The Power of the Dog, it was lockdown.

Both preferred to get out of town. Cumberbatch chose the luxurious Summerlee Retreat in Hawke’s Bay – from where he joined Taika Waititi and Oscar winner Meryl Streep in the second of a 10-episode virtual charity read-along of James and The Giant Peach.

It was a family affair for Dunst, who was with fiance Jesse Plemons, also starring in the movie, and the couple’s 2-year-old son, Ennis. Dunst told the LA Times they wanted to be out of Auckland so they rented a house for their son to have grass to run around on – and also a place, she said, to potty train her son.

Legendary British actor and Oscar-nominee Roth is shooting PUNCH, a local feature film in Auckland, he did MIQ in the city centre and has lapped up the city’s western beaches while filming.

The Hateful Eight star told the New Musical Express he was looking forward to doing an independent movie in Godzone, which he called the safest place on earth right now.

Cho is back in Auckland to restart filming Netflix series Cowboy Bebop, a live-action version of the cult Japanese animated science fiction series. Earlier in the year filming stopped when Cho busted his knee on set. His return to Auckland from Hollywood has given him a Star Trek reunion with Kiwi actor Karl Urban. In November the pair went fishing in the Hauraki Gulf on Urban’s boat.

The streaming stars

Kiwi stars have shone on three hit series streamed around the globe this year – Virgin River and Riverdale on Netflix, and The Boys on Amazon Prime.

Karl Urban and Antony Starr have enjoyed international fandom for The Boys. The vigilante v crooked superheroes show has become a No 1. hit on all the TV hotlists – even former US President Barack Obama is a fan. Entertainment Weekly reported that their show helped Obama through the writing process of his book A Promised Land.

Starr, who has been based in the US this year, was a little surprised that the show, which contains expletive language and some rather racy storylines was appreciated by the former POTUS.

Urban has been based in NZ this year and last week enjoyed the action of the America’s Cup from his boat. A third season of the hit show is due to start filming in Canada early next year so Urban, who plays vigilante Billy Butcher, may not get to see the Cup action in March.

Over on Netflix, Martin Henderson’s romantic soap opera, Virgin River, has been picked up for a third season. Henderson spent much of this year in Mexico, where he revealed a new lady in his life, Aisha Mendez, who met with approval on social media by his former onscreen leading ladies, Ellen Pompeo and Jennifer Garner.

Fellow Netflix star KJ Apa, who has been filming season five of his hit show, Riverdale, in Canada, has also revealed a new girl in his life this year, French model Clara Berry.

The costume stars

The award for best fancy dress players goes to former All Black Ali Williams and partner, the sibling billionaire Anna Mowbray.

They dressed as Barbie and Ken at the annual Toy Mansion party last year – and this year went one better with Flash Gordon-inspired outfits for the party’s Out of this World theme.

The couple wore matching red outfits with Mowbray’s red dress boasting a huge train and arms-span flares of more than 2m. Williams’ Ming the Merciless white face and red eye makeup were worlds away from his days wearing black.

The party revealed a new go-to designer in label BW 36.175 which designed outfits for Williams, Mowbray, her brother Nick and his partner Jaimee Lupton, as well as fellow Rich Lister Harry Hart.

Weeks after the annual bash, Mowbray and her siblings threw a 70th birthday bash for their father at Nick’s Coatesville property. This time the theme was 70s and Mowbray slayed it again in a silver 70s mesh jumpsuit with matching headband over a red permed wig.

Mowbray and Williams this year purchased the waterfront Westmere home of Chronicles of Narnia director Andrew Adamson for what is estimated to have been more than $20 million.

The new mother of the nation?

Seven Sharp’s Hilary Barry’s introduction of Formal Friday in the early days of the first lockdown became an inspiration for many struggling with the pandemic fallout.

As a tribute to students missing their balls, Barry looked amazing when she wore her 1987 red one-shoulder ball dress – accessorised with gumboots and a trough in her backyard.

Barry wore a tuxedo to this year’s Aotearoa Film and Television Awards, where she won the People’s Choice Award, and has used fashion to challenge people too. She has taken down misogynist trolls for body shaming and fashion ageism. Barry is sure to bring more sass in the New Year when she goes back to her roots in radio on The 3pm Pick Up on The Hits in February, while Laura McGoldrick takes maternity leave.

The music heroes

It’s been a huge year for Six60. The multi-platinum selling band sold more than130,000 tickets to their Saturdays tour and sold out Western Springs for a second time in February. During Lockdown, frontman Matiu Walters jammed live and acoustically from the comfort of his own lounge, broadcasting on the Six60 Instagram account.

In October, Walters performed the national anthem before the All Blacks/Wallabies clash at Eden Park. Then he gave Aucklanders their biggest reason to date to get behind a concert at Eden Park, saying the band would love to perform there and add the venue to their summer concert schedule.

“Crazily, there’s never been a gig here. We thought, why don’t we just pump the brakes on that and see if we can make this thing work,” Walters told the Herald.

At the Aotearoa Music Awards last month, the band scored a hat-trick, winning Te Toa Hoko Teitei (Highest Selling Artist) for the third consecutive year and were a huge hit with the crowd during their live performance.

Walters, Eli Paewai, Chris Mac, Ji Fraser and Marlon Gerbes then launched their documentary Till the Lights Go Out at cinemas across the country. At the Auckland premiere at the Civic, Walters posed with his new fiancee, producer Caren Freeman.

The best party

It was ours of course! Days into Lockdown Spy Editor Ricardo Simich and Herald head of entertainment Sinead Corcoran needed to bust out of their bunkers and party. The result was Spy’s virtual party Bubbles in the Bubble, which saw TV stars, comedians and radio personalities join them for one of the strangest but most enjoyable nights of the year.

Members of the public were also able to attend the event, and more than 150,000 fans watched from home as the celebrities mixed and mingled.

Bravely attending live from their living rooms and lounges were All Black Beauden Barrett and wife Hannah Laity, Laura McGoldrick and Blackcap Martin Guptill, celebrity chef Josh Emett and wife Helen Cranage, actors Sara Wiseman and Craig Hall, Antonia Prebble and Claire Chitham and a dozen or so familiar faces.

Chats, toasts and the odd party game happened over the two hours of live, sometimes train-wreck virtual partying. When the world seemed to be going to hell in a handbasket, every guest just wanted to share a little bit of fun.

We’re hoping not to face another lockdown – but Spy is always ready to party. All the best for the holiday season!

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