Off Year For Jewish Oscars

Off Year For Jewish Oscars

Call me Timothee: Young actor Timothee Chalamet is 
up for best actor this year.
Call me Timothee: Young actor Timothee Chalamet is up for best actor this year.

JTA – If one thing jumps out about this week’s nominations for the 90th annual Academy Awards, it’s the lack of big Jewish Oscar headlines.

Here are the Jewish nominations and storylines from another year of great cinema:

With four Oscar nominations, “Call Me By Your Name” is the biggest Jewish triumph in this year’s nomination slate. An adaptation of Egyptian-born Jewish novelist Andre Aciman’s book of the same name, it traces a romance between two young Jewish men in 1980s Italy and is full of Jewish themes. It garnered nominations for best picture, lead actor (Timothée Chalamet, who is Jewish), adapted screenplay and best original song (“Mystery of Love,” written by indie rocker Sufjan Stevens).

A few months ago, Jewish performer James Franco was considered a shoo-in for the best actor category. His comedic performance in “The Disaster Artist” as Tommy Wiseau, the eccentric director of the real film “The Room” — considered by some to be the worst film of all time — was widely hailed by critics. Franco won a Golden Globe for the role earlier this month, but less than two weeks ago, the Los Angeles Times published an article with accounts of five women who accused him of sexual misconduct. While the best actor category is loaded with talent this year, multiple headlines called Franco’s exclusion a response to the misconduct reports — and a snub.

Actor Daniel Day-Lewis, far left, attends The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences Official Academy Screening of Phantom Thread at MOMA on December 12, 2017 in New York City. Getty Images

Meanwhile, “Foxtrot,” an Israeli drama about the aftermath of a military tragedy, had been on the shortlist for best foreign language film after winning a prestigious prize at last year’s Venice International Film Festival, but ultimately didn’t make the cut. “In the Fade,” a German drama that centers on a neo-Nazi murder story and won a Golden Globe in this category, didn’t make the final Oscar list either.

Daniel Day-Lewis, who has won the best actor award three times already, announced last year that he is retiring — so this might be the last chance to see the Jewish actor take home a trophy at an awards night. He is nominated for his performance in Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Phantom Thread,” in which he plays a famous dressmaker.

Director Stephen Spielberg film, “The Post” is up for Best Picture at the 2018 Oscars. Getty Images

Steven Spielberg’s latest film, “The Post” — a drama about the Pentagon Papers, starring perennial Spielberg collaborator Tom Hanks — is up for best picture. That seemed inevitable, but the relative surprise is that Spielberg didn’t get another best director nomination.

It was, however, another good year for Jewish composers. For the prolific composer Hans Zimmer, 2017 was business as usual. He wrote or co-wrote scores for three films, including one for “Dunkirk,” which earned him an Oscar nod. Benj Pasek, one half of the musical duo behind the score for the Broadway hit “Dear Evan Hansen” and the lyrics of “La La Land,” added to his rapidly growing legend with a nomination for best original song for “This is Me” from “The Greatest Showman” — a musical about P.T. Barnum.

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