Michelle Yeoh, Barbie, 1975: Revisiting triumphs and scandals of 2023

(From left) Michelle Yeoh, Margot Robbie as Barbie and Matty Healy of 1975 are some of the people we couldn't stop talking about in 2023. Photos: AP, Handout

As the year draws to an end, we take a look back at the year that was in entertainment.

Here are the eight people and events that stood out in 2023.

1. Michelle Yeoh

In 2022, Tan Sri Michelle Yeoh was one of the busiest actresses in Hollywood, starring in no less than five films, including the much-lauded Everything Everywhere All At Once. How does one top such a career high?

Well, by winning an Oscar, of course.

The Ipoh-born star started 2023 by sweeping most of the top acting prizes at the awards circuit and culminating with the historic Oscar win for Best Actress, making her the first actress of Asian descent (and first Malaysian, of course) to do so.

From a career high, Yeoh went on celebrating a personal high when she tied the knot with her long-time partner Jean Todt on July 27, after being engaged for 6,992 days!

Yeoh and Todt were back in Malaysia last week for a round of wedding celebrations for her family and friends in the country.

“In 2023, we celebrated some of the most joyous milestone moments and achievements of our lives, both professionally and personally. And we couldn’t have done any of it without your unwavering support every step of the way,” Yeoh said in a recent video post on Instagram, accompanied by Todt.

Michelle Yeoh. — Michelle Yeoh/InstagramMichelle Yeoh. — Michelle Yeoh/Instagram

2. Barbie

Pantone’s Colour Of The Year for 2023 might have been Viva Magenta, a shade of red, but we all know the real colour of the year is pink, all thanks to the Barbie craze.

The movie, starring Margot Robbie as the plastic fantastic doll, raked in over US$1.4bil (RM6.5bil) worldwide making it the No.1 movie of the year.

The clever marketing campaigns flooded social media for months leading to the release of the movie and continued even after the film release, making Barbie not only the winner at the box office but also a pop culture phenomenon of the year.

Barbie. — HandoutBarbie. — Handout

3. Coco Lee

The Chinese music industry was saddened, and then shaken, with the news of Coco Lee’s tragic death at 48. The Hong Kong-American singer died by suicide after suffering from depression for several years.

Days after her death, news emerged surrounding her death, including her estranged husband Bruce Rockowitz’s alleged infidelity, their impending divorce and Lee’s secret cancer diagnosis.

Then it was revealed that the affable singer was mistreated during her time as a mentor on the reality show, Sing! China.

At her funeral on Aug 1, more than 1,000 fans turned up to say farewell to their favourite singer.

Fans also heckled Rockowitz outside the funeral parlour, accusing him of Lee’s death.

Sing! China halted its current season after leaked audio of Lee complaining she had been bullied on the show went viral.

4. Matty Healy

What was supposed to be a good time for music fans at the planned three-day Good Vibes Festival in Sepang was marred on the first day of the show when British band 1975 took to the stage.

Its frontman Matty Healy, who appeared intoxicated, slammed Malaysia’s LGBT laws and kissed his male bandmate Ross MacDonald on stage during the concert.

The antics shocked concert- goers as well as Malaysians when clips of Healy’s tirade and drunken stupor were circulated online.

The festival was cancelled following the incident and made news internationally.

Matty Healy. — 1975/InstagramMatty Healy. — 1975/Instagram

5. Memoirs

It seems that every other celebrity has something to talk about with the amount of memoirs released in 2023.

From Jada Pinkett Smith and John Stamos to Paris Hilton and Barbra Streisand, top tier as well as D-list celebs were busy hawking their tomes.

But no one comes close to Prince Harry’s Spare which sold 1.2 million copies, making it the top-selling memoir of the year. Ghostwritten by J.R. Moehringer, Spare focuses on his relationships with his brother and father, as well as his wife, Meghan Markle, among other things.

Britney Spears’ memoir The Woman In Me was a bombshell upon release on Oct 24 as the former pop princess dished the dirt on ex Justin Timberlake (abortion revelation! infidelity!), who has since been keeping a low profile after being condemned online since the release of the book. The Woman In Me has sold close to 800,000 copies at last count.

Prince Harry. Photo: APPrince Harry. Photo: AP

6. Matthew Perry

Matthew Perry was found dead on Oct 28 in his home, drowned in the jacuzzi. He was 54. The world mourned the loss of a friend.

Perry’s death hit hard on fans globally because with the hit show Friends, the actor had been a staple on TV for many years.

Of all the characters on Friends, Chandler Bing, the character Perry played, is the one most fans can empathise with.

“Chandler’s a guy who’s just not comfortable in his own skin – he’s got a great excuse to be funny,” the actor said of his sarcastic character on the show.

Perry had been battling with addiction for many years – from alcohol to prescription drugs.

In 2018, he revealed in an interview that he had spent more than half his life in treatment centres, trying to get better.

On Dec 15, the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner released the results of Perry’s autopsy which stated that the actor died from “the acute effects of ketamine”.

Perry had been undergoing ketamine infusion therapy prior to his death, reportedly for depression and anxiety.

Matthew Perry. Photo: APMatthew Perry. Photo: AP

7. Syamsul Yusof saga

The saying “never air your dirty laundry in public” did not apply to Syamsul Yusof in 2023 as the local director was embroiled in a public spat with his family.

The Mat Kilau auteur started the year by announcing on Jan 6 that he had married local actress Ira Kazar in Thailand.

Ten days later, his first wife Puteri Sarah filed for divorce.

It would be five months later before the divorce was finalised.

But in between that, Syamsul, Puteri Sarah, Syamsul’s parents – Datuk Yusof Haslam and Datin Patimah Ismail – would go on social media to air their grievances and throw accusations, helping fill up the gossip pages and blogs.

But all’s well that ends well.

According to Puteri Sarah, both she and her ex-husband are on good terms now.

“After all that have happened, my relationship with him is now good and we are often in contact with each other to discuss our children.

“He also meets up with the kids regularly now... which the children are happy about,” she told mStar, The Star’s Malay-language portal.

As for Ira, she emerged as the most searched person in 2023 on Google Malaysia.

Syamsul Yusof and Puteri Sarah. — BernamaSyamsul Yusof and Puteri Sarah. — Bernama

8. Taylor Swift

No lookback of the year would be complete without mentioning Taylor Swift, the one celebrity who was constantly in the news throughout the year and for all the right reasons.

Swift, 34, could do no wrong this year and she went from strength to strength, dominating the music charts, breaking box-office records and filling up stadium after stadium with her Eras Tour.

Then there’s the love story between Swift and football player Travis Kelce that fans can’t seem to get enough of. (Interesting to note that Swift was rumoured to have dated the problematic Matty Healy briefly earlier this year, much to the horror of Swifties.)

The newly minted billionaire is also Spotify’s most-streamed artiste of the year. No surprises there as she released two more Taylor’s Version this year – Speak Now and 1989.

She’s also named Time Magazine’s Person Of The Year, the first person from the arts to be honoured for her success as an entertainer in the publication.

Taylor Swift might have a song called Cruel Summer but her life in 2023 is anything but.

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