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Health Care Reform: Are Doctors the Real Problem?

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Health Care Reform: Are Doctors the Real Problem?

The villains in the battle over health care reform in the U.S. are obvious, right? The insurance and pharmaceutical companies are not-so-quietly lining the pockets of their corpulent, greedy CEOs, who sit in corner offices adorned with centuries-old pine wooden desks and golden toilets, while doctors, patients, and businesses small and large are getting squeezed dry. But real reform requires a less one-dimensional examination of the industry, one that reveals a much more systemic assortment of maladies plaguing the system as a whole. President Obama has made prevention a pillar of his health care reform plan, suggesting patients’ poor diets and exercise habits are partly responsible for the astronomically rising costs of care. (According to the National Coalition on Health Care, health care spending represented 17 percent of the country’s gross domestic product in 2007, and is expected to reach 20 percent or more in the next eight years, and yet U.S. health care is ranked 37th by the World Health Organization.) Rush Limbaugh, he of the beer belly and hunger for prescription drugs, mocked Obama’s assertion, inanely postulating that it’s not the overweight or physically unfit who are the biggest burden on health care, but the physically active, who, he says, sustain injuries that cost taxpayers millions each year. And they say laughter is the best medicine.

A few months ago I made a rare trip to my primary care physician. His office is a veritable hole in the wall, with a sign on the window of the front desk that reads, “Do not ask how long the wait is or how many people are ahead of you.” He overbooks his schedule, no doubt to make as much money as he can; I waited two-and-a-half hours to see the doctor despite having scheduled an appointment. After a tirade about how changes in the system have forced him to refuse patients who don’t have coverage or who simply can’t afford to make their insurance co-payments, he informed me that it would likely be over a week before my HMO approved his referral for a CT Scan. In the meantime, he sent me for lab work.

When I received my blood results, I noticed that one of the tests my doctor ordered wasn’t performed. I called his office to ask him about it, and was told that “everything is fine” and that if I wanted to talk to the doctor, I should make an appointment. I insisted but was again refused, so I hung up.

I eventually went for the CT Scan and received a call from my doctor’s office several days later once again telling me that “everything is fine,” but that the doctor wanted me to stop by and pick up a new script for additional lab work. After waiting for an hour and a half, he told me that one of the tests he ordered wasn’t performed. I informed him that had he taken my call two weeks earlier, he would have known that already, and that perhaps the CT Scan, the necessity of which he fought with my insurance company about, might not have been necessary after all. He explained that he prefers to talk to his patients face to face and told me not to worry about the co-payment, which I had no intention of paying anyway. It occurred to me that, co-payment or not, he was planning to submit this “follow-up visit,” consisting of a gratuitous thermometer in my mouth and a brief conversation that should have taken place over the phone, to my insurance company for reimbursement.

Judging by the overall conditions under which my doctor practices, his actions might simply be a necessity of survival—having been fought tooth and nail by the insurance companies to do what he told me loves to do: practice medicine. And as someone who despises how the health insurance industry operates, I can certainly empathize with his plight. But not when it’s at the expense of his patients’ financial and medical well-being. More importantly, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was being made an accessory to insurance fraud.

I’ve been following the health care reform debate closely since I began paying for my own policy out-of-pocket several years ago, and while I’ve heard lots of buzz terms being tossed around (efficiency, waste, choice, competition, public option), I’ve rarely heard anyone in the mainstream media discuss the role health care providers have played in the crisis. Even Obama, who received a tepid response from the American Medical Association last month, has been loathe to criticize doctors. And then I stumbled upon an article in The New Yorker (not exactly a bastion of the mainstream) by Atul Gawande, a surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and a professor at Harvard University, that sets out to find an answer to why the health care costs in a poverty-stricken Texas bordertown are some of the highest in the nation despite having state-of-the-art technology and facilities.

One of the factors Gawande examines is the profit motive of providers, who enjoy kickbacks for admitting patients to hospitals and, presumably, referring them to specialists and other agencies. In some cases, doctors are even paid a percentage of the profits from tests and procedures performed at what are called physician-owned hospitals. Doctors in the small town in question were prone to “overutilization,” ordering procedures that, among other things, serve as a preemptive defense against malpractice lawsuits, and performing unnecessary surgeries when lifestyle changes and pain management would be just as effective—and cheaper. It’s possible that a significant number of “unnecessary” tests would rule out more serious conditions, and therefore reduce the number of more invasive (and expensive) procedures that may have been performed based on less accurate testing. But how many doctors who view their practice as a profit-based business feel compelled to order unnecessary tests simply to pay for the cost of running their business?

Doctors in the U.S. perform more operations than doctors in any other country in the world, and there’s no evidence to suggest that we’re any better off because of it. (The U.S. ranks 45th in life expectancy, below Cuba.) And the cost of certain procedures—like CT Scans, for instance—is also more expensive, but that doesn’t mean the quality of care or the accuracy of the results is any better. Due to subsidies, the equipment required for a CT Scan reportedly costs 40% less in a third-world country like India than it does in the U.S., and the average cost of one contrast scan here could pay for dozens of similar tests in Mumbai. So what accounts for this discrepancy?

The U.S. is a nation filled with the best and brightest physicians and technicians who have attended some of the most respected and expensive universities in the world. The cost to our providers is bound to trickle down to their patients. But radiology isn’t brain surgery; the cost of interpreting a CT Scan simply doesn’t justify the exponential cost incongruities being shouldered by Americans. Technical and professional fees are part of the problem, but that doesn’t explain how the cost of a test like a CT Scan varies so wildly in the U.S. (The fact that one has to “shop” for the best deal when it comes to potentially life-saving tests is obscene, but that’s a whole other topic.)

One factor might be that the cost of treating the uninsured—or the underinsured, which was the subject of a front-page article in The New York Times last week—is built into the cost paid by those who can afford to pay. The radiology clinic where I had my CT Scan offered to drop off the contrast fluid I had to drink prior to my test and gave me a ride to and from the clinic on the day of my test. This was a service provided by the clinic and wasn’t billed to me or my insurance (I know because I asked—twice). It was generous and helpful, especially since I’d never been there before and don’t have a car, but they no doubt offer this “free” service to all of their patients, not just those who are insured. Someone has to pay for it. A country with 45 million uninsured is bound to see its health care costs skyrocket.

Universal coverage isn’t feasible if large segments of the population are being priced out of the market. Blatant profligacy within the system, specifically of the variety Gawande has unearthed, means that prices won’t be dropping any time soon. But ironically, it also means reform isn’t a hopeless venture. Taking care of everyone doesn’t mean the country has to go bankrupt or that we have to saddle our grandchildren with even more debt. If we’re indeed wasting money, and that’s recognized as a reality on both sides of the aisle, that means at least one buzz term, “efficiency,” truly is the key to reform. Obama may be pointing one finger at the overweight, but as Gawande shrewdly observes, “the idea that there’s plenty of fat in the system is proving deeply attractive.” We just need to admit who the fat ones are.

Changing the culture is essential to solving the problem. Defensive medicine costs tens of billions each year. And doctors whose focus is not on patient care but on money—whether it’s profit-motivated or simply a matter of survival—might not even realize they’re part of the problem. The discussion draft of the House bill provides incentives for accountable care organizations, which are comprised of doctors and specialists who collaborate in networks—not for profit or kickbacks, but for results. These kinds of networks would purportedly discourage profiteering by changing the way doctors get paid through Medicare—paying physicians for results, not the quantity of service. Policymakers close to the bill say the details—how or if those changes are going to happen—haven’t been worked out yet, but what Congress seems to have realized is that Medicare is a barometer for the entire health care industry. As Medicare goes, so goes the nation.

It’s easy to blame one part of the system for the failure of the entire thing. But like the human body itself, health care is made up of the symbiotic relationship between separate but inextricably bound parts: providers, insurers, and patients. The House bill looks at the issue of reform from both sides: reforming delivery systems—how doctors are paid to create incentives for efficiency and quality—and adding a public plan to keep costs to consumers down. And while those goals might prove to be tricky (The Washington Post reported this week that a panicked health insurance industry is in full-on lobby mode, which means that even if a bill passes, it will likely be watered down), it’s still only one part of the solution.

Legislating cultural change is an essential component to reform, and while that’s likely to prove even more difficult, there has been some progress. At the beginning of the year, lawmakers introduced the Physician Payments Sunshine Act of 2009, a bipartisan bill that failed to make it through Congress two years ago but which, despite even stricter regulations, stands a better chance in the current economic and reform-happy climate. The legislation would amend the Social Security Act, requiring transparency in the relationship between physicians and pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. The bill is currently under review, but even if it fails to pass a second time, the pressure has already forced companies like Pfizer and Merck to voluntarily disclose the amount of money they’re spending on things like consulting gigs, speeches, meals, and gifts—and to whom.

Additionally, nonprofit organizations like Area Health Education Centers are taking steps to offset Pharma’s influence on physicians. It’s a little disturbing to think that your local doctor’s office could be serving catered sandwiches for pharmaceutical reps who are hoping to peddle their latest inventions to the community via your family doctor, but that’s exactly what’s happening across the country. Doctors shouldn’t have to choose between what’s in the best interest of their patients and what’s in the best interest of keeping their practices in business. And we shouldn’t have to worry that our doctors aren’t on our side.

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Jessie Ware Returns to the “Spotlight” with New Single and Album

The U.K. singer’s latest is a sultry, understated throwback to Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte-style disco.

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Jessie Ware, Spotlight
Photo: Carlijn Jacobs/Interscope Records

Jessie Ware has dropped the lead single from her upcoming fourth album, What’s Your Pleasure? Co-written by the U.K. singer-songwriter and Danny Parker, Shungudzo Kuyimba, and James Ford (who also produced the single), “Spotlight” is a sultry, understated throwback to Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte-style disco. Ware’s carefree vocals float atop a lush arrangement of swirling strings, guitars, and wobbly bass.

According to a press release, the album is a “thank you” to Ware’s long-term fans. The singer describes “Spotlight” as a “first taste,” but she’s has been teasing a more club-oriented effort since 2018’s “Overtime,” a blissed-out slice of classic house reminiscent of her early collaborative singles. The final tracklist for What’s Your Pleasure? has yet to be revealed, but fingers crossed that last year’s nearly five-minute disco daydream “Mirage (Don’t Stop)” makes the cut.

“I feel like these last few years I’ve had to do some exploration to figure out what I wanted to write about musically again and learn new things about myself. I’ve been yearning for that escapism, groove and maybe it’s time to say goodbye to the melancholy Jessie,” Ware says.

Directed by Jovan Todorovic, the mesmerizing video for “Spotlight” was shot in Belgrade aboard former Yugoslavian dictator Josep Broz’s infamous Blue Train. The celebratory clip captures a kaleidoscope of emotions as Ware walks, struts, floats, and dances among the train’s passengers.

Watch below:

What’s Your Pleasure? is scheduled for a June 5 release on PMR/Friends Keep Secrets/Interscope Records.

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Review: Lady Gaga’s “Stupid Love” Single and Video Fail to Spark Joy

The singer’s latest is a catchy but uninventive slice of electro-pop.

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Lady Gaga, Stupid Love
Photo: YouTube

After Lady Gaga’s new single, “Stupid Love,” unexpectedly leaked online last month, many of the singer’s not-so-little-anymore monsters were quick to take to Twitter and dismiss the rather unremarkable dance-pop tune as a demo or outtake from a previous era. It seems that was wishful thinking. Officially released today, the lead single from the pop singer’s first studio album of original material in four years, is a catchy but uninventive slice of electro-pop driven by a synth bassline reminiscent of the singer’s since-deleted rape fantasy with R. Kelly, “Do What U Want.”

“Freak out, freak out, freak out, freak out, look at me now,” the Muppets Most Wanted actress croons atop a midtempo dance beat, courtesy of producers Bloodpop and Tchami. The track’s other elements—from Gaga’s faux-operatic vocals to the song’s diced-up hook—fail to spark much joy. If it had been released on the heels of 2013’s garish Artpop, “Stupid Love” might feel merely repetitive, but following a series of ostensibly more “mature” albums—the jazz collection Cheek to Cheek, the roots-inflected Joanne, and the soundtrack to A Star Is Born—it’s downright regressive.

The rumored title of Gaga’s sixth album, Chromatica, presumably refers to both the chromatic musical scale and the color wheel one learns about on the first day of art class, and the music video for “Stupid Love” likewise trades in simplistic themes and visuals. Shot on an iPhone by director Daniel Askill, the choreography-heavy clip stars Gaga—who dons various fuschia-colored costumes and plastic face jewels that are less Björk than Party City—as the hearing-impaired leader of a group of “Kindness punks” who implore various warring, color-coded tribes to choose love.

It’s about as corny as it sounds and lacks the (comparatively) sophisticated mythology or narrative of videos like 2011’s “Born This Way.” Even when Gaga’s early videos felt derivative or the concepts slipshod, there was at least a sense of an artist tapping into, and sometimes even defining, the zeitgeist. “Stupid Love” feels like the product of a full-grown performer trying to appeal to a fanbase she apparently believes is still composed of adolescent misfits.

Watch the video below:

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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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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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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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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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