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Bread and Circuses: Ruminations from Ground Zero of the Auto Bailout

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Bread and Circuses: Ruminations from Ground Zero of the Auto Bailout

This week I did something that I rarely ever do: I took the bus into work.

The mass transit infrastructure for the Detroit area is relatively lean compared to that available in other large U.S. municipalities. One reason for this is because the population has spread away from the city in an organic, rather than linear pattern, designing a logical system is all but impossible. The other more obvious reason is that Detroit is, after all, the “Motor City.” The idea of personal car ownership is baked into our DNA. Per usual, my bus carried no more than fifteen other passengers.

Outside, knocked over by high winds from the day before, holiday decorations adorning the front of people’s homes were left tossed about. Given the hard knocks Michigan has endured in the last few years that shows no signs of letting up as 2008 closes, there was something particularly apropos about the sight of dozens of Santas laying face down in the snow. One could call the regional dread that has resulted from the uncertain fate of the U.S. automotive industry palpable. But, at this point, a more apt description of it would be ubiquitous.

The Jefferson leg of my commute took me past the headquarters of the United Auto Workers, then, a few minutes later, that of General Motors. The exteriors of the respective buildings hide what I assume to be an inferno of frantic activity taking place within. The two camps, which usually find themselves at odds, seem to have formed a definite, if uneasy, alliance in the face of a dire financial outlook.

I’d find the political and economic wrangling that has gone on over this issue entertaining if it didn’t hit so close to home. My emotions have ranged from irritation to outrage over the hypocrisy displayed by just about everyone with an opinion on this. At times, I have to grudgingly include myself on that list as I vacillate between opposing and supporting the bridge loans, often out of pure self interest.

After Senate Republicans effectively blocked a vote on the proposed fourteen billion dollar bridge loan (I refuse to say “bailout”) for General Motors and Chrysler, President Bush indicated that he’d tap into existing monies set aside to save the banking industry. A few days later, White House Press Secretary Dana Perino, still sporting a black eye she got in the melee following an Iraqi reporter’s assault on Bush with a shoe, the original transportation device, indicated that the president hadn’t ruled out letting the Big Three go into an “orderly bankruptcy.”

I was disappointed by this in spite of myself. My viscerally conservative reaction to the idea of using government funds to prop up ANY business is decidedly negative and summed up by an unambiguous entry in Andrew Sullivan’s blog titled “Let The Big Three Die”:

“The point of capitalism is that actions have consequences. Once that market discipline is removed for a few of the worst, ill-managed, union-crippled companies in America, the stage is set for endless mediocrity, government-run industry (i.e. even more endless mediocrity), and a free-for-all at the government trough. A clear majority of Americans agree, in the new WaPo poll. If this intensifies the recession, so be it. Recessions are sometimes necessary for long-term economic health. And the bigger and sharper it is now, the more time Obama has to recover from it. Let them die.”

Or, as Clemenza said in The Godfather, you have to “go to the mattresses” every ten or fifteen years “to weed out the bad blood.”

Contrasting that view is Catch 22’s Lieutenant Milo Minderbinder, an Army Air Corp mess officer, who profits in the service from various schemes under the banner of his “M&M Enterprises.” When Milo’s plan to corner the market on Egyptian cotton proves to be a failure, he endeavors to unload his surplus on the government because, as he rationalizes, “the business of government is ’business’.”

From a state built on cotton production, Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama was the point man in the charge against the automotive bridge loans, decrying them as counter to the aforementioned free market principles. Spencer Bachus, a House Republican also from Alabama, chided Big Three auto executives when they appeared on Capital Hill.

“The vast majority of my constituents,” Bachus said, “are not making anywhere near what GM, Ford and Chrysler are paying their employees. My constituents do not understand why their taxpayer dollars should go to support less-efficient business.”

The irony in all of this was the apparent silence of Shelby and Bachus when Alabama offered a $253 million incentive package to lure German car company Mercedes-Benz to locate there. That netted out in the range of about $150,000 to $200,000 per new job created. It’s almost as if Southern legislators are still fighting the Civil War with non-union autoworkers cast as the new contraband. Because of Shelby and those who loudly applaud him, I don’t expect the GOP to perform very well in Michigan for a while. There’s even a group on Facebook called “Michiganders Against Alabama Tourism.”

As with my anomalous bus ride, I found myself in the rare position of mostly agreeing with a hyperbolic statement by Michael Moore posted after the defeat of the loan bill.

”…the Senate said, we’ll give you the loan only if the factory workers take a $20 an hour cut in wages, pension and health care. That’s right. After giving BILLIONS to Wall Street hucksters and criminal investment bankers—billions with no strings attached and, as we have since learned, no oversight whatsoever—the Senate decided it is more important to break a union, more important to throw middle class wage earners into the ranks of the working poor than to prevent the total collapse of industrial America.”

Moore, the self anointed voice of the working man, made his bones in 1989 by slamming GM’s then CEO Roger Smith with the documentary Roger and Me, after the automaker closed a factory in Moore’s “home town” of Flint, Michigan. I put “home town” in quotes because Moore actually grew up in Davidson, Michigan. A more affluent suburb, Davidson doesn’t convey nearly the same level of blue-collar street cred as Flint. Think of “Papa Doc,” Eminem’s rival in 8 Mile, whose real name was Clarence and studied music at Cranbrook, an exclusive private school.

But Moore is right. Those citing $73 an hour UAW wages as the reason for Detroit’s lack of competitiveness when compared with the $45 an hour earned by their non-union counterparts are being deceptive. All but lost during this debate is last year’s landmark new contract negotiated between the Big Three and the UAW in which the latter did indeed make a lot of concessions. As David Leonhardt points out in a New York Times piece, the $73/hour figure, which would amount to about $150,000 a year (or the low-end cost of an automotive job in the state of Alabama) is inflated to include benefits paid to retirees. Factoring that out does bring the union wage down to a more competitive $55 an hour.

However, I do part company with Moore and those who engage in the predictable demonization of domestic auto company executives.

It started when their first appearance before Congress was overshadowed by the fact that they each flew to D.C. in separate private jets. Sure, they probably should have thought that through. That they didn’t, indicates a certain level of tone deafness on their part to the choices “normal” people have at their disposal. Anecdotally, most of the blue-collar types I spoke with questioned the jet rides, but thought that the amount of attention it received was a bit overblown. In response, the Big Three honchos decided to travel to their next Congressional hearing by a convoy of domestic cars. Proving that you can’t win for losing, the executives at that session were questioned as to whether it was a wise decision for such high powered management to waste their valuable time in an eighteen hour (round trip) car pool between Detroit and Washington.

Their poor public relations choices not withstanding, other, more substantive criticisms of the Big Three seemed to focus on the idea that they aren’t making the “cars that people wanted.” Such as:

1. “Green” cars that will reduce global warming

2. More fuel efficient cars that lessen our dependence on foreign oil

3. Better quality cars

I separate the first two because “green cars” and cars that use less petroleum products are not synonymous. In the interest of full disclosure, I’m one of those “climate change” agnostics who thinks that the jabbering about “saving the planet” overstates the capacity of humans to be the primary cause of any global dynamic either positive or negative. Talk of “solving” the problem, complete with a disaster countdown clock, reminds me of a Star Trek: The Next Generation episode where Geordi figures out in the last act how to adjust the polarity of the deflector array to fix whatever malady threatens that week’s planet. Of course, I realize that for many this tags me as one of those flat earther, creationist, home schooling types (I’m NOT).

That said, a hybrid or even a completely electric car wouldn’t necessarily produce a significantly smaller carbon footprint from the perspective of averting climate change. The juice to power the vehicles has to be generated somehow. And unless more nuclear plants go up, that means burning coal. Clean coal technology sounds a little like cold fusion to me. Meaning it doesn’t really exist yet. Furthermore, practical and affordable hydrogen powered vehicles are still decades away. So, like it or not, the old fashioned internal combustion engine is still the best game in town (for a while, anyway). But, as the Journey song says, “Don’t Stop Believing.” Of course, most of the Detroiters I know chuckle a bit over that number because there’s no such place for that “city boy” to have been “born and raised in” called “South Detroit.” That’s actually Windsor, Ontario. Yes, Canada is technically south of Detroit.

Which, since Canada is our number one source of imported oil, makes for a nice segue to the second item: the need for the U.S. to lessen it’s reliance on foreign petroleum (notice how I resisted the temptation to make a bad pun out of “Segway,” the two-wheeled, energy efficient scooter). I find this is an important goal that is a bit more feasible. However, there are still a number of challenges involved in producing a commercially viable vehicle that burns less gasoline (or none at all). Not the least of which is getting people to buy them.

Sure, laws could be passed to force automakers to accelerate their plans to get such a product to market. But one need only look back at how a major legacy of the 1970’s CAFE standards was the death of the station wagon and the birth of the SUV. American consumers didn’t want smaller cars. Families like mine, with more than three kids (which I realize tags me to many as one of those flat earther, creationist, home schooling types), just couldn’t fit into a five passenger vehicle AND comply with seat belt laws. Enter the minivan. It didn’t fall into the same vehicle category under CAFE regulations as station wagons and allowed automakers to comply with the laws of both the land AND supply and demand.

One of the first lectures I give to my Intro-Marketing students outlines how the bromide “build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door,” is wrong. Just because an offering is somehow considered “superior,” doesn’t ensure market success. If it did, Betamax videotapes would have handily beaten VHS as the format of choice in the 1980s. For a simpler example, glance down at your computer’s keyboard. More than likely you’re looking at a QWERTY design, named for the characters appearing in the first row of letters and introduced in the 1870s. It had ergonomic shortcomings DELIBERATELY built into it so that users wouldn’t break the early, more fragile typewriters. This factor lost its significance once electric typewriters came on the market. However, “better” designs such as Dr. August Dvorak’s more efficient keyboard never caught on because the original design was so well entrenched.

In The Hustler, Bert Gordon (George C. Scott) describes success in their chosen profession to “Fast” Eddie Felson (Paul Newman) using words that could easily be applied to mass marketing:

“This game isn’t like football. Nobody pays you for yardage. When you hustle, you keep score real simple. At the end of the game, you count up your money. That’s how you find out who’s best. It’s the only way.”

That aspect of the free market is a two-edged sword and brings me to the third criticism of American automakers: the quality gap.

Regardless of a number of studies that show an ever-increasing level of quality for domestically produced automobiles, the “country of origin effect” on the average consumer still strongly favors foreign offerings. As the saying goes, “perception is reality” and, outside of Michigan, the patriotic appeal to “Buy American” only resonates so much.

Of course, as Ashley Fantz points out in “What makes a car American?,” determining the exact country of origin for an automobile is more complicated than it seems:

Fewer than half of the parts on some Big Three vehicles are made in the U.S.

Looking at a Ford Fusion? It is assembled in Mexico. The Chrysler 300C is assembled in Canada, but its transmission is from Indiana; the brand’s V-8 engine is made in Mexico. Engines in the Chevrolet Equinox sport utility vehicle are from China.

On the other hand, Toyota’s Camry is comprised 80 percent of parts made in the United States, and 56 percent of Toyota’s vehicles sold in the U.S. also are made here, according to Toyota spokeswoman Sona Iliffe-Moon.

The Toyota Sienna and Tundra also have 80 percent of their parts manufactured in the U.S.”

Nonetheless, while there haven’t been any reports in Michigan of auto plant supervisors, mad about Japanese imports, beating Asian Americans death, as Ronald Ebens did to Vincent Chin in 1982, “keying” foreign cars in saloon parking lots seems to be making a comeback.

Speaking of comebacks, many here in Michigan (both white and blue collar alike), are somewhat amused by the rising star of Governor Jennifer Granholm. By all accounts, she made a strong impression nationwide while stumping on various Sunday morning news shows for the auto loan.

However, those who watched the seemingly endless parade of companies pack up and leave Michigan under her watch realize that she was being unintentionally prophetic when, in her 2006 State of the State, she said that we’d be “blown away by the strength and diversity of Michigan’s transformed economy.” She won reelection handily against Republican Dick DeVos. Son of the founder of AmWay, DeVos was a horrible candidate who could apparently talk people into signing up for a questionable pyramid scheme, but was unable to convince the state electorate that he could talk businesses into moving to Michigan.

The only new industry Granholm has been able to attract to the state is filmmaking. She offered forty percent tax breaks for movie companies who decide to shoot in Michigan. So, ironically, we have the likes of Clint Eastwood filming the story of a disgruntled autoworker in Gran Torino ten minutes from my house, but no real autoworkers because Toyota, who didn’t get such a sweet deal, decided to locate their new plant in another state.

When, after hemming and hawing for a few days, President Bush finally did announce his decision to provide the loans, it was somewhat anticlimactic. I’m not sure which of the spirits of Christmas past, present or future finally convinced him. But, based on the raspy, beaten down tenor in Bush’s voice during his Saturday radio speech, he wasn’t nearly as happy as EbenezerScrooge was the morning after the rehabilitated miser had his epiphany.

Of course, the auto bridge loan doesn’t promise success. Hopefully, the financial institutions that received government bailouts in the hundreds of billions (without anything approaching the same level of scrutiny) will actually LEND out some of that money so consumers can buy things like, maybe, cars. We’ll see.

In the meantime, the holiday lawn decorations in my neighborhood are standing once again. For a while anyway as the weather report doesn’t sound too promising.

God bless us, everyone.

Matt Maul is author of the blog Maul of America.

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Music

Billie Eilish Drops Lush James Bond Theme Song “No Time to Die”

The lush, darkly cinematic track feature an orchestral arrangement courtesy of Hans Zimmer and guitar from Johnny Marr.

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Billie Eilish, No Time to Die
Photo: Interscope Records

On the heels of her historic Grammy wins, singer-songwriter Billie Eilish has unveiled “No Time to Die,” the theme song from the upcoming James Bond film of the same name. The song was produced by her brother and frequent collaborator, Finneas, and veteran knob-twirler Stephen Lipson. The lush, darkly cinematic track falls in line with past 007 themes, with an orchestral arrangement courtesy of Hans Zimmer and Matt Dunkley, and featuring guitar from Johnny Marr of the Smiths.

The 18-year-old Eilish, the youngest person and first woman to win the four main Grammy categories in the same year, is now the youngest artist to both write and record a Bond theme. She will perform the song live for the first time at The Brit Awards on February 18.

No Time to Die hits U.S. theaters on April 10 through MGM/United Artists Releasing.

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Film

David Lowery’s The Green Knight, Starring Dev Patel, Gets Teaser Trailer

Today, A24 dropped the trailer for haunting mustache enthusiast David Lowery’s latest.

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The Green Knight
Photo: A24

Jack of all trades and haunting mustache enthusiast David Lowery is currently in pre-production on the latest live-action adaptation of Peter Pan for Disney, which is bound to be full steam ahead now that The Green Knight is almost in the can. Today, A24 debuted the moody teaser trailer for the film, which stars Dev Patel as Sir Gawain on a quest to defeat the eponymous “tester of men.” Scored by Lowery’s longtime collaborator Daniel Hart, The Green Knight appears to have been shot and edited in the same minimalist mode of the filmmaker’s prior features, which include Ain’t Them Bodies Saints and A Ghost Story. Though it’s not being billed as a horror film, it’s very easy to see from the one-and-a-half-minute clip how Lowery’s latest is of a piece with so many A24 horror films before it.

According to A24’s official description of the film:

An epic fantasy adventure based on the timeless Arthurian legend, The Green Knight tells the story of Sir Gawain (Dev Patel), King Arthur’s reckless and headstrong nephew, who embarks on a daring quest to confront the eponymous Green Knight, a gigantic emerald-skinned stranger and tester of men. Gawain contends with ghosts, giants, thieves, and schemers in what becomes a deeper journey to define his character and prove his worth in the eyes of his family and kingdom by facing the ultimate challenger. From visionary filmmaker David Lowery comes a fresh and bold spin on a classic tale from the knights of the round table.

The Green Knight is written, directed, and edited by Lowery and also stars Alicia Vikander, Joel Edgerton, Sarita Choudhury, Sean Harris, Kate Dickie, and Barry Keoghan.

See the trailer below:

A24 will release The Green Knight this summer.

The Green Knight

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Film

Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch, a Tribute to Journalists, Gets First Trailer

Anderson’s latest is described as a “love letter to journalists.”

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The French Dispatch
Photo: Searchlight Pictures

Today, Searchlight Pictures debuted the trailer for The French Dispatch, Wes Anderson’s first feature since 2018’s Isle of Dogs and first live-action film since 2014’s The Grand Budapest Hotel. According to its official description, The French Dispatch “brings to life a collection of stories from the final issue of an American magazine published in a fictional 20th-century French city.” The city is Ennui-sur-Blasé and the magazine is run by Arthur Howitzer Jr. (Bill Murray), an American journalist based in France. The trailer, just a hair over two minutes, quickly establishes the workaday (and detail-rich) world of a magazine, a travelogue struggling with just how much politics to bring to its pages during a time of strife.

A French Dispatch is written and directed by Anderson, whose described the film as a “love letter to journalists,” and stars Benicio del Toro, Adrien Brody, Tilda Swinton, Léa Seydoux, Frances McDormand, Timothée Chalamet, Lyna Khoudri, Jeffrey Wright, Mathieu Amalric, Stephen Park, Bill Murray, and Owen Wilson. See the trailer below:

Searchlight Pictures will release The French Dispatch on July 24.

The French Dispatch

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Awards

Oscar 2020: Complete Winners List

Parasite earned four awards, edging out 1917 for best picture.

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Parasite
Photo: Neon

Across the last month, we contemplated various pendulum swings, drew links between the Oscar voting process and the Iowa caucuses, and generally mulled over the academy’s ongoing existential crisis, only to come the conclusion that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Or that’s what we thought prior to the Academy Awards ceremony. In a welcome surprise, Parasite took the top prize, becoming the first international title to do so in the history of the awards show, while Bong Joon-ho became the first director since Roman Polanski to win the directing Oscar after failing to win the DGA prize. (Parasite is also the first Palme d’Or winner since Marty way back in 1955 to claim best picture.)

In the era of the preferential ballot, one stat or another has been thrown out the window each year, but after last night, it feels like every last one was shattered to bits, and that the triumph of Bong film’s could signal a shift in the industry when it comes to not just what sorts of stories can be told. Indeed, Parasite’s victory is redolent of Moonlight’s no less historic one a few years ago, giving us hope that the very definition of an “Oscar movie” has been forever rewritten. Predicting the Oscars has become a little bit harder now.

Here’s the full list of winners.

Picture
Ford v Ferrari
The Irishman
Jojo Rabbit
Joker
Little Women
Marriage Story
1917
Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood
Parasite (WINNER)

Director
Martin Scorsese, The Irishman
Todd Phillips, Joker
Sam Mendes, 1917
Quentin Tarantino, Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood
Bong Joon-ho, Parasite (WINNER)

Actor
Antonio Banderas, Pain and Glory
Leonardo DiCaprio, Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood
Adam Driver, Marriage Story
Joaquin Phoenix, Joker (WINNER)
Jonathan Pryce, The Two Popes

Actress
Cynthia Erivo, Harriet
Scarlett Johansson, Marriage Story
Saoirse Ronan, Little Women
Charlize Theron, Bombshell
Renée Zellweger, Judy (WINNER)

Actor in a Supporting Role
Tom Hanks, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
Anthony Hopkins, The Two Popes
Al Pacino, The Irishman
Joe Pesci, The Irishman
Brad Pitt, Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood (WINNER)

Actress in a Supporting Role
Kathy Bates, Richard Jewell
Laura Dern, Marriage Story (WINNER)
Scarlett Johansson, Jojo Rabbit
Florence Pugh, Little Women
Margot Robbie, Bombshell

Adapted Screenplay
The Irishman, Steven Zaillian
Jojo Rabbit, Taika Waititi (WINNER)
Joker, Todd Phillips and Scott Silver
Little Women, Greta Gerwig
The Two Popes, Anthony McCarten

Original Screenplay
Knives Out, Rian Johnson
Marriage Story, Noah Baumbach
1917, Sam Mendes and Krysty Wilson-Cairns
Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood, Quentin Tarantino
Parasite, Bong Joon-ho and Han Jin-won (WINNER)

International Feature Film
Corpus Christi (Poland)
Honeyland (North Macedonia)
Les Misérables (France)
Pain and Glory (Spain)
Parasite (South Korea) (WINNER)

Documentary Feature
American Factory, Steven Bognar, Julia Reichert, and Jeff Reichert
The Cave, Feras Fayyad, Kirstine Barfod, and Sigrid Dyekjær
The Edge of Democracy, Petra Costa, Joanna Natasegara, Shane Boris, and Tiago Pavan
For Sama, Waad al-Kateab and Edward Watts
Honeyland, Ljubo Stefanov, Tamara Kotevska, and Atanas Georgiev

Animated Feature
How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, Dean DeBlois, Bradford Lewis, and Bonnie Arnold
I Lost My Body, Jérémy Clapin and Marc du Pontavice
Klaus, Sergio Pablos, Jinko Gotoh, and Marisa Román
Missing Link, Chris Butler, Arianne Sutner, and Travis Knight
Toy Story 4, Josh Cooley, Mark Nielsen, and Jonas Rivera (WINNER)

Film Editing
Ford v Ferrari, Michael McCusker and Andrew Buckland (WINNER)
The Irishman, Thelma Schoonmaker
Jojo Rabbit, Tom Eagles
Joker, Jeff Groth
Parasite, Yang Jinmo

Cinematography
The Irishman, Rodrigo Prieto
Joker, Lawrence Sher
The Lighthouse, Jarin Blaschke
1917, Roger Deakins (WINNER)
Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood, Robert Richardson

Production Design
The Irishman, Bob Shaw and Regina Graves
Jojo Rabbit, Ra Vincent and Nora Sopková
1917, Dennis Gassner and Lee Sandales
Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood, Barbara Ling and Nancy Haigh (WINNER)
Parasite, Lee Ha-jun and Cho Won-woo

Costume Design
The Irishman, Sandy Powell and Christopher Peterson
Jojo Rabbit, Mayes C. Rubeo
Joker, Mark Bridges
Little Women, Jacqueline Durran (WINNER)
Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood, Arianne Phillip

Visual Effects
Avengers: Endgame, Dan DeLeeuw, Russell Earl, Matt Aitken, and Dan Sudick
The Irishman, Pablo Helman, Leandro Estebecorena, Nelson Sepulveda-Fauser, and Stephane Grabli
The Lion King, Robert Legato, Adam Valdez, Andrew R. Jones, and Elliot Newman
1917, Guillaume Rocheron, Greg Butler, and Dominic Tuohy (WINNER)
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Roger Guyett, Neal Scanlan, Patrick Tubach, and Dominic Tuohy

Original Score
Joker, Hildur Guðnadóttir (WINNER)
Little Women, Alexandre Desplat
Marriage Story, Randy Newman
1917, Thomas Newman
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, John Williams

Sound Mixing
Ad Astra, Gary Rydstrom, Tom Johnson, and Mark Ulano
Ford v Ferrari, Paul Massey, David Giammarco, and Steven A. Morrow
Joker, Tom Ozanich, Dean Zupancic, and Tod Maitland
1917, Mark Taylor and Stuart Wilson (WINNER)
Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood, Michael Minkler, Christian P. Minkler, and Mark Ulano

Sound Editing
Ford v Ferrari, Donald Sylvester (WINNER)
Joker, Alan Robert Murray
1917, Oliver Tarney and Rachael Tate
Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood, Wylie Stateman
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Matthew Wood and David Acord

Makeup and Hairstyling
Bombshell, Kazu Hiro, Anne Morgan, and Vivian Baker (WINNER)
Joker, Nicki Ledermann and Kay Georgiou
Judy, Jeremy Woodhead
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, Paul Gooch, Arjen Tuiten, and David White
1917, Naomi Donne, Tristan Versluis, and Rebecca Cole

Original Song
“I Can’t Let You Throw Yourself Away,” Toy Story 4, Randy Newman
“(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again,” Rocketman, Elton John and Bernie Taupin
“I’m Standing with You,” Breakthrough, Diane Warren
“Into the Unknown,” Frozen 2, Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez
“Stand Up,” Harriet, Joshuah Brian Campbell and Cynthia Erivo

Live-Action Short
Brotherhood, Meryam Joobeur and Maria Gracia Turgeon
Nefta Footfall Club, Yves Piat and Damien Megherbi
The Neighbor’s Window, Marshall Curry (WINNER)
Saria, Bryan Buckley and Matt Lefebvre
A Sister, Delphine Girard

Documentary Short Subject
In the Absence, Yi Seung-jun and Gary Byung-seok Kam
Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl), Carol Dysinger and Elena Andreicheva
Life Overtakes Me, John Haptas and Kristine Samuelson
St. Louis Superman, Smriti Mundhra and Sami Khan
Walk, Run, Chacha, Laura Nix and Colette Sandstedt

Animated Short
Daughter, Daria Kashcheeva
Hair Love, Matthew A. Cherry and Karen Rupert Toliver (WINNER)
Kitbull, Rosana Sullivan and Kathryn Hendrickson
Memorable, Bruno Collet and Jean-François Le Corre
Sister, Siqi Song

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Music

Eminem Drops Surprise Album and Anti-Gun Violence Video for “Darkness”

Music to Be Murdered By was released unexpectedly, accompanied by a music video for the track “Darkness.”

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Eminem
Photo: YouTube

Less than 17 months after his last album, Kamikaze, swooped in out of nowhere, Detroit rapper Eminem, né Marshall Mathers, has dropped another surprise album. Music to Be Murdered By was released unexpectedly tonight, accompanied by a music video for the track “Darkness.”

Directed by James Larese, the clip was seemingly inspired by the 2017 Las Vegas gun massacre, as Eminem narrates the disturbing inner thoughts of an isolated, mentally ill mass shooter. The video ends with the message, “When will this end? When enough people care” and a call to register to vote.

The 20-track album features collaborations with Ed Sheeran, Juice WRLD, Q-Tip, Anderson .Paak, and more. It also includes a song called “Stepdad,” about the rapper’s abusive stepfather.

Music to Be Murdered By is out now on Shady/Aftermath/Interscope Records.

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Awards

2020 Oscar Nominations: Joker, 1917, The Irishman, and OUATIH Lead Field

Nominations for the 92nd Academy Awards were announced Tuesday morning by Issa Rae and John Cho.

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Joker
Photo: Warner Bros.

Nominations for the 92nd Academy Awards were announced Tuesday morning by Issa Rae and John Cho. Todd Phillips’s Joker led the nomination count with 11, followed by Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman, Sam Mendes’s 1917, and Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood with 10 each, and Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite, Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story, Taika Waititi’s Jojo Rabbit, and Greta Gerwig’s Little Women with six each.

While Joker mostly received attention throughout the awards season for Joaquin Phoenix’s lead performance, many pegged Hildur Guðnadóttir’s victory at the Golden Globes for her score as a sign that the film would do well at the Oscars. Elsewhere, Jennifer Lopez (Hustlers) had to make way for Kathy Bates (Richard Jewell) in best supporting actress and Lupita N’yongo (Us) for Saoirse Ronan (Little Women) in best actress. And both Antonio Banderas (Pain and Glory) and Jonathan Pryce (The Two Popes) landed nominations for best actor, pushing Golden Globe-winner Taron Egerton (Rocketman), Robert De Niro (The Irishman), and Christian Bale (Ford v Ferrari out of the way.

See below for a full list of the nominations.

Best Picture
Ford v Ferrari
The Irishman
Jojo Rabbit
Joker
Little Women
Marriage Story
1917
Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood
Parasite

Best Director
Martin Scorsese, The Irishman
Todd Phillips, Joker
Sam Mendes, 1917
Quentin Tarantino, Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood
Bong Joon-ho, Parasite

Best Actress
Cynthia Erivo, Harriet
Scarlett Johansson, Marriage Story
Saoirse Ronan, Little Women
Charlize Theron, Bombshell
Renée Zellweger, Judy

Best Actor
Antonio Banderas, Pain and Glory
Leonardo DiCaprio, Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood
Adam Driver, Marriage Story
Joaquin Phoenix, Joker
Jonathan Pryce, The Two Popes

Best Actress in a Supporting Role
Kathy Bates, Richard Jewell
Laura Dern, Marriage Story
Scarlett Johansson, Jojo Rabbit
Florence Pugh, Little Women
Margot Robbie, Bombshell

Best Actor in a Supporting Role
Tom Hanks, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
Anthony Hopkins, The Two Popes
Al Pacino, The Irishman
Joe Pesci, The Irishman
Brad Pitt, Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood

Best Costume Design
The Irishman
Jojo Rabbit
Joker
Little Women
Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood

Best Sound Editing
Ford v Ferrari
Joker
1917
Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Best Sound Mixing
Ad Astra
Ford v Ferrari
Joker
1917
Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood

Best Animated Short
Dcera (Daughter)
Hair Love
Kitbull
Memorable
Sister

Best Live-Action Short
Brotherhood
Nefta Footfall Club
The Neighbor’s Window
Saria
A Sister

Best Film Editing
Ford v Ferrari
The Irishman
Jojo Rabbit
Joker
Parasite

Best Original Score
Joker
Little Women
Marriage Story
1917
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Best Documentary Feature
American Factory
The Cave
The Edge of Democracy
For Sama
Honeyland

Best Documentary Short Subject
In the Absence
Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl)
Life Overtakes Me
St. Louis Superman
Walk, Run, Chacha

Best International Feature Film
Corpus Christi (Poland)
Honeyland (North Macedonia)
Les Misérables (France)
Pain and Glory (Spain)
Parasite (South Korea)

Best Production Design
The Irishman
Jojo Rabbit
1917
Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood
Parasite

Best Visual Effects
Avengers: Endgame
The Irishman
The Lion King
1917
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Best Cinematography
The Irishman
Joker
The Lighthouse
1917
Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood

Best Makeup and Hairstyling
Bombshell
Joker
Judy
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil
1917

Best Animated Feature
How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
I Lost My Body
Klaus
Missing Link
Toy Story 4

Best Adapted Screenplay
The Irishman
Jojo Rabbit
Joker
Little Women
The Two Popes

Best Original Screenplay
Knives Out
Marriage Story
1917
Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood
Parasite

Best Original Song
“I Can’t Let You Throw Yourself Away,” Toy Story 4
“(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again,” Rocketman
“I’m Standing with You,” Breakthrough
“Into the Unknown,” Frozen 2
“Stand Up,” Harriet

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Film

John Krasinski’s A Quiet Place Part II, Starring Emily Blunt, Gets Trailer

The film stands to further boost the profile of the Hudson Valley as a destination for filmmakers.

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The Quiet Place Part II
Photo: Paramount Pictures

Today, Paramount debuted in theaters and online the trailer for the sequel to John Krasinski’s runaway success A Quiet Place, which topped our list of the best horror films of 2018. Not so imaginatively titled A Quiet Place Part II, the film was shot in part in Erie County but, like its predecessor, mostly in the Hudson Valley region where Krasinski and Emily Blunt live with their children. The film, then, stands to not only goose audiences this March, but to also boost the profile of the region as a destination for filmmakers.

According to Paramount’s official description of A Quiet Place Part II: “Following the deadly events at home, the Abbott family (Blunt, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe) must now face the terrors of the outside world as they continue their fight for survival in silence. Forced to venture into the unknown, they quickly realize that the creatures that hunt by sound are not the only threats that lurk beyond the sand path.”

A Quiet Place Part II is written and directed by Krasinski and also stars Cillian Murphy and Djimon Hounsou. See the tense trailer below:

Paramount will release A Quiet Place Part II on March 20.

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Music

Kesha Gets Her Swagger Back in Raucous “Raising Hell” Single and Video

The song reprises the driving dance beats and irreverent, IDGAF swagger of the singer’s early hits.

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Kesha
Photo: Dana Trippe

Clocking in at under three minutes and featuring lyrics like “I’m still here, still bringin’ it to ya,” Kesha’s new song, “Raising Hell,” feels more like an album intro than a proper lead single. But it’s a fitting re-introduction, reprising the driving dance beats and irreverent, IDGAF swagger of the singer’s early hits: “I’m all fucked up in my Sunday best/No walk of shame ‘cause I love this dress/Hungover, heart of gold, holy mess/Doin’ my best, bitch, I’m blessed.”

Though it’s not quite a return to form, “Raising Hell” is a gospel-tinged rave-up featuring Big Freedia that provides a bridge between Kesha’s breakout sound and 2017’s more introspective, roots-inspired Rainbow. Her forthcoming album, High Road, reportedly boasts a wide breadth of styles, from dance-rap bangers to dream-pop ballads, and guests Brian Wilson, Sturgill Simpson, and, yes, even a meta-appearance from “Ke$ha” on the track “Kinky.”

In the video for “Raising Hell,” Kesha plays a very-Aqua Netted televangelist who murders her abusive husband and goes on the lam. The clip, directed by Luke Gilford, sets up a narrative thread that, based on the album’s trailer, will ostensibly run through the entire project.

Watch below:

High Road is set to be released on January 10 on Kemosabe/RCA Records.

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Film

Watch the First Trailer for Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman

Today, Netflix has given us our first look at the film, which stars Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci.

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The Irishman
Photo: Netflix

On Monday, it was announced that The Irishman, Martin Scorsese’s adaptation of Charles Brandt’s nonfiction book I Heard You Paint Houses, will open this year’s New York Film Festival. And today, Netflix, which will release the film in select theaters and on its streaming service at some point later in the year, has given us our first look at the production, which stars Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci.

According to Netflix’s official description, The Irishman is “an epic saga of organized crime in post-war America told through the eyes of World War II veteran Frank Sheeran, a hustler and hitman who worked alongside some of the most notorious figures of the 20th century. Spanning decades, the film chronicles one of the greatest unsolved mysteries in American history, the disappearance of legendary union boss Jimmy Hoffa, and offers a monumental journey through the hidden corridors of organized crime.”

In a statement from Film at Lincoln Center, New York Film Festival director Kent Jones, a frequent collaborator of Scorsese’s, said that The Irishman is “the work of masters, made with a command of the art of cinema that I’ve seen very rarely in my lifetime, and it plays out at a level of subtlety and human intimacy that truly stunned me.”

See the kinetic trailer, which provides us with our first look of the film’s sure-to-be-controversial “de-aging” VFX techniques, below:

The Irishman will premiere at the New York Film Festival on September 27.

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Film

Disney’s Mulan Live-Action Remake, Starring Yifei Liu, Gets Teaser Trailer

The film follows a young Chinese woman who disguises herself as a warrior in order to spare her ailing father from war.

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Mulan
Photo: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Today, during the Women’s World Cup final between America and the Netherlands, Disney premiered the first trailer for its live-action remake of the 1998 animated move of the same name. The film follows a young Chinese woman (Yifei Liu) who, after the Emperor of China (Jet Li) issues a decree that one man per family must serve in the Imperial army, disguises herself as a warrior in order to spare the life of her ailing father (Tzi Ma). According to Disney’s official description of the film: “Masquerading as a man, Hua Jun, she is tested every step of the way and must harness her inner strength and embrace her true potential. It is an epic journey that will transform her into an honored warrior and earn her the respect of a grateful nation…and a proud father.”

Mulan features a celebrated international cast that also includes Donnie Yen as Commander Tung, Jason Scott Lee as Böri Khan, Yoson An as Cheng Honghui, and Gong Li as Xianniang. The film is directed by Niki Caro from a screenplay by Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, Elizabeth Martin, and Lauren Hynek based on the narrative poem “The Ballad of Mulan.”

See the action-packed teaser trailer below:

Disney will release Mulan in March 2020.

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