Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re probably moderately aware that the 88th annual Academy Awards are on Sunday. The Jews will be making quite the appearance in the three-hour special: as nominees, presenters and plotlines.
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” had nerds of all backgrounds hyperventilating with excitement last year. It also caught the attention of the Academy with five nominations. The self-proclaimed most nebbishy Jewish director J.J. Abrams directed the film. The cast includes the original cast from the first trilogy with Jewish actors Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill.
The Steven Spielberg-directed historical thriller “Bridge of Spies” is nominated for a slew of awards, including the highly coveted Best Picture. Ethan and Joel Coen wrote the screenplay for the film. The film is based on the true story of the arrest and trial of a U.S. spy pilot who was shot down by Soviet forces in the 60s.
Jewish actress Jennifer Jason Leigh is nominated for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her portrayal of fugitive Daisy Domergue in Tarantino’s gruesome “The Hateful Eight.” Leigh plays the only female character in the main cast and is at once tough and villainous in the violent western mystery.
In the category of Best Documentary Short, “Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah” is nominated. The film explores the life of Claude Lanzmann, who created the nine-hour Holocaust documentary “Shoah.” The film shows the emotional challenges Lanzmann experienced while talking to Holocaust survivors about their time in the camps.
The film “Son of Saul” is nominated in the category of Best Foreign Language Film and shows a day and a half in the life of a Sonderkommando in Auschwitz. The Sonderkommando, a Nazi death camp prisoner assigned to dispose of gas chamber victims, recognizes his dead son in a corpse and vows to save him from the flames and give him a proper funeral. It won the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film.
The critically acclaimed, yet controversial, documentary “Amy”, which tells the story of the Jewish rock star Amy Winehouse, is nominated for Best Documentary Feature. “Amy” features interviews with family members and friends of Winehouse pieced together to explain her musical career as well as her struggle with drugs and alcohol. Winehouse’s father criticized the film for focusing too much on her addiction. Winehouse was Jewish, though she mostly identified with her religion culturally.
Jewish actors Sarah Silverman, Jason Segal, and Sasha Baron Cohen will be presenting awards during the evening and will probably get some laughs during their short time on stage. Cohen has a history of being ridiculous at awards shows. He was told explicitly by the Academy not to dress as his character in “The Dictator” during the 2012 Oscars, but did it anyway. He also “accidentally” spilled ashes on Ryan Seacrest before being escorted off the red carpet. It’s hard to imagine he won’t pull a stunt this year, which might make the notoriously long ceremony a little more interesting.
Music royalty and newbies alike were mingling on the red carpet at the 58th Annual Grammy Awards where the fashions were a mix of classic cool with more than your share of sequins. But the real winners were the men who rocked the updated skinny suit.
Even before the red carpet began, the much talked about Amy Winehouse documentary, “Amy,” was the big winner in the Best Music Film category during the Grammys pre-telecast. The Oscar nominated film has been the darling of award season, winning a Golden Globe and the BAFTA for Best Documentary just a day before the Grammy Awards.
Mark Ronson, the producer and singer on “Uptown Funk” nominated for Record of the Year, updated the look of the plain blue suit by dressing it down. Ronson, a long-time Winehouse collaborator and friend, features heavily in “Amy” and is a patron of the Amy Winehouse Foundation.
British beauty, Ellie Goulding, was pretty in pink ahead of her Grammy performance with Andra Day. She is nominated for Best Pop Performance and Best Song Written for Visual Media for her song “Love Me Like You Do” from the “Fifty Shades of Grey” soundtrack.
Jack Antonoff, a member of Taylor Swift’s producer squad for her “1989” album, is out to support Swift’s Album of the Year nomination. Antonoff’s girlfriend, was nowhere to be seen on the red carpet.
He also performed with Swift in the first performance of the night.
Award season is in full swing and the next big show just happens to be the music event of the year.
The 58th Annual Grammy Awards are Monday February 15 and features some Jewish nominees you know very well, and some you didn’t even know were nominated.
Here are some Jewish performers and nominees to keep an eye on:
Ellie Goulding, the Jewish beauty from the UK, will be performing her hit, “Love Me Like You Do,” from the “Fifty Shades of Grey” soundtrack. The song catapulted her to the top of the charts in 2015, earning her a Golden Globe nomination. Goulding is nominated in the Best Pop Performance and Best Song Written for Visual Media (read: best song written for film) categories.
She may have just recently achieved stardom in the States, but Goulding is a huge pop star in the UK. She had the honor of singing Elton John’s “Your Song” at the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton for the couple’s first dance. Talk about stressful.
How many of this year’s nominees can say they are chummy with the royals?
Here is Goulding’s video for “Love Me Like You Do”:
Jack Antonoff, the singer and award-winning songwriter, is one of the producers nominated alongside Taylor Swift for Album of the Year for her record-breaking “1989” album. Antonoff, lead guitarist for the band Fun, is also Lena Dunham’s long-time boyfriend. This year’s Grammys will not be his first award show rodeo, he has been nominated for two Golden Globe awards and has previously won two Grammys.
Bob Dylan and Barry Manilow
Two Jewish legends, albeit with very different musical styles, will be duking it out in the same category. Bob Dylan and Barry Manilow are both nominated in the Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album. Dylan is nominated for “Shadows in the Night” and Manilow for “My Dream Duets.”
Canadian Jewish rapper Drake is a big nominee for Best Rap Album for “If You’re Reading This Its Too Late,” Best Rap Song for “Energy,” Best Rap Performance for “Back to Black” and “Truffle Butter” with Nicki Minaj and Lil Wayne and Best Rap/Sung Collaboration for “Only” with Nicki Minaj, Lil Wayne and Chris Brown. So even if Drake loses, he’s still a winner with so many nominations. He gets an award for us for becoming meme of the year for “Hotline Bling.”
Academy Award nominated and much-discussed Amy Winehouse documentary, “Amy,” is nominated for Best Music Film. Winehouse’s father, Mitch Winehouse, criticized and publicly distanced himself from the documentary for focusing too much on his late daughter’s drug addiction.
A dozen documentary feature films on Jewish and Israeli topics, vying for Oscar glory, were largely eliminated when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences winnowed down the list of 124 contenders to 15 semi-finalists.
The sole survivor of Tuesday’s announced semi-finalists is “Amy,” a British documentary on singer-songwriter Amy Winehouse, described by her brother as “a little Jewish kid from North London with a big talent.”
Her meteoric career and tortured life was cut short at the age of 27 through drug abuse and alcohol poisoning.
Two American-Jewish filmmakers also made the cut and are high among the filmmakers favored to top the competition. One is Davis Guggenheim, the director of “He Called Me Malala,” an intimate portrait of Malala Yousafzu, of Pakistan, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize at the age of 17 for her advocacy of education for girls.
The other is Joshua Oppenheimer, whose “The Look of Silence” documents the killing during 1965 and 1966 of some 500,000 alleged Communists by the Indonesian military.
Among contenders out of the running are documentaries on Israel’s prime ministers, the birth of the Israeli Air Force, and somber recollections by veterans of the Six-Day War.
Also eliminated were the recollections of a Polish-Jewish Holocaust survivor, testimonies by the sons of two Nazi war criminals, and the Palestinian entry satirizing Israeli restrictions on the livelihoods of Palestinians.
The 15 remaining contenders will be cut to five when nominations in all categories are announced on Jan. 15, 2016. The 2016 Oscar winners will be announced on February 28.
The upcoming “Amy” documentary has unearthed a lot of amazing and rare footage of the late (great) Amy Winehouse. But this clip of an unassuming 14-year-old Amy is particularly magical.
In the video, shot by Amy’s friend Lauren Gilbert at her 14th birthday party, a playful and sweet teen version of the Jewish singer belts out an impromptu and soulful rendition of “Happy Birthday.”
It’s an intimate glimpse at how unbridled her talent was, even back then.
Watch below (grab some tissues):
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