The 2019 Oscars feature a star-studded array of Jewish nominees.
By Nate Bloom
The Oscars awards ceremony will be held at 8 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 24, on ABC. Below are the “confirmed” Jewish nominees in all but the technical categories.
In November, honorary Oscars were awarded. One went to Lalo Schifrin, 86. Born in Argentina, he moved to the U.S. in 1963. He was Oscar-nominated six times. His most famous works include the theme for Mission: Impossible, and the scores for Bullitt and Cool Hand Luke.
Acting: Rachel Weisz, 48, supporting actress for The Favourite. Weisz already won this Oscar for The Constant Gardener, so, given Oscar politics, she’s unlikely to win again. She did just win the British equivalent of the Oscar for The Favourite, but being a Brit, she had a hometown advantage.
Her Hungarian Jewish father, an engineer, settled in the U.K. in the 1930s. Her mother fled Austria for England in 1938. Rachel’s mother was the daughter of a Jewish father and a non-Jewish mother. Her mother formally converted to Judaism when she married her father. My sense is that Weisz isn’t very religious, but she has played Jewish characters several times (a Soviet soldier in Enemy at the Gates, historian Debra Lipstadt in Denial and the rebellious, lesbian daughter of an Orthodox rabbi in Disobedience).
Honorable Mention (Acting): Melissa McCarthy is nominated for best actress for playing the late Lee Israel, a journalist turned celebrity-letter-forger, in Can You Ever Forgive Me?; Adam Driver is nominated for best supporting actor for playing a Jewish police officer in Blackkklansman; and Glenn Close is nominated for best actress in Wife, based on a novel of the same name by Meg Wolitz, 59.
Music, Best Original Score: Nicholas Britell, 38, (If Beale Street Could Talk) and Marc Shaiman, 59, (The Return of Mary Poppins). Britell’s two Oscar nominations are for films featuring African-Americans that were directed by Barry Jenkins, an African-American.
Best original song: Mark Ronson, 43, and Diane Warren, 62. Ronson co-wrote “Shallow” from A Star is Born. Warren wrote “I’ll Fight,” a song used in RBG, a documentary about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 85.
Adapted Screenplay: The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, written by Joel Coen, 64, and his brother, Ethan, 61. This anthology Western is a Netflix original. The brothers Coen have already won four Oscars in various categories. BlacKkKlansman. The original film script (based on a book) was written by Charlie Wachtel and David Rabinowitz, both 32. They sold their script to director Spike Lee. Lee and Kevin Willmott made some changes, and they are co-nominees for this Oscar. Can You Ever Forgive Me?, co-written by Nicole Holofcener, 58. A Star Is Born, co-written by Eric Roth, 73, who won this Oscar for Forrest Gump.
Animated Feature: This Oscar category includes as nominees the films’ writer(s), main producer and director(s). Scott Rudin was the producer of Isle of Dogs, a nominee. Rodney Rothman, 45ish, was a co-writer and co-director of another nominated film, Spider-Man: Into the Spider Verse.
Animated Short Film: Animal Behaviour was co-directed by David Fine, 58.
Documentary Feature Length: RBG, co-directed and co-produced by Julie Cohen, 54, and Betsy West. As noted above, this film is about Justice Ginsburg. It’s become the surprise hit of the year and has a good chance of winning. Her brother, Bruce Cohen, 57, is a top Hollywood producer who won a best picture Oscar for producing American Beauty. If Julie Cohen wins, she and her brother will be the 10th pair of siblings to be Oscar winners. Five of the previous nine are/were Jewish.
Documentary Short: Black Sheep is a film about the effects of racism on a young black man in England. It was produced by Jonathan Chinn, 50ish. End Game, a film about end-of-life care co-directed and co-produced by Rob Epstein, 63, and Jeffrey Friedman, 67.
Live Action Short Film: Skin, co-produced by West Bloomfield native actress Jamie Ray Newman, 40, and her Israeli husband, Guy Nattiv, 45, who also directed.
Best Film: The best film Oscar goes to the film’s principal producers. The only nominated producer this year I’m sure is Jewish is Jason Blum, 49, (BlacKkKlansman).
Honorable mention: Marshall Curry, 48, directed a best short documentary nominee, A Night at the Garden. He hunted for and found all the available footage of a notorious 1938 Madison Square Garden rally put on by the pro-Nazi German-American Bund.