(JTA) — The Hollywood Foreign Press Association announced the nominees for the coveted Golden Globes on Monday. Here are the nominees with Jewish ancestry who are up for consideration for this year’s awards, which will be presented on NBC on January 8, 2017.
Best actress — drama film
Natalie Portman is being considered for a best actress award for her portrayal of iconic First Lady Jackie Kennedy in “Jackie.”
French actress Isabelle Huppert was nominated for an award for “Elle,” in which she plays a woman who is determined to track down her rapist.
Best actress — musical or comedy film
Hailee Steinfeld won wide acclaim for her performance as a high school outcast in the coming-of-age film “The Edge of Seventeen.”
Best actor — musical or comedy film
Jonah Hill‘s performance in “War Dogs,” in which he plays one of two men who won a $300 million Pentagon contract to supply arms to American allies in Afghanistan, earned him consideration for a best actor award.
Best supporting actor — film
“Big Bang Theory” actor Simon Helberg plays the nervous but endearing piano accompanist to an untalented singer in the biographical comedy-drama “Florence Foster Jenkins.”
In the drama-thriller “Nocturnal Animals,” English actor Aaron-Taylor Johnson portrays the leader of a vicious gang of fictional criminals in a book with which the main character becomes consumed.
Best actress — TV drama series
Evan Rachel Wood plays a human-like robot in a western-themed amusement park in HBO’s hit sci-fi thriller series “Westworld.”
Winona Ryder‘s performance as the mother of a missing young boy in “Stranger Things” earned her a best actress nomination.
Best actor — TV drama series
In the crime-drama series “Ray Donovan,” Liev Schreiber portrays the titular character, a fixer at a powerful Los Angeles law firm.
Best actress — TV comedy or musical series
In “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” Rachel Bloom plays a Jewish New York lawyer who relocates to California in an obsessive attempt to win the heart of a former boyfriend.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus‘ portrayal of petty yet hilarious vice president (and later president) Selina Meyer in “Veep” earned her a nod for the Golden Globes.
In the comedy series “Divorce,” Sarah Jessica Parker plays one half of a couple going through a drawn-out separation.
Best actor — TV comedy or musical series
Jeffrey Tambor was nominated for an award for his role as the transgender matriarch of a Jewish California family in “Transparent.”
If Portman felt her breath, it meant she was saying the words in an Israeli accent — or something close to it. Along with directing, writing and starring in the 2015 Hebrew-language film, which hits U.S. screens on Friday, Portman had to learn how to speak like an Israeli housewife in the 1940s.
Portman was born in Jerusalem but grew up in the United States, so her fluent Hebrew came with a heavy American inflection. In the movie, an adaptation of Amos Oz’s 2002 autobiographical novel of the same name, Portman plays Oz’s mother, Fania, a Russian immigrant living in Jerusalem during the time surrounding Israel’s independence in 1948.
To study the accent, Portman hired Neta Riskin, 39, an Israeli actor known for her role in “Shtisel,” an Israeli show about a haredi Orthodox family. For three months during filming, Riskin and Portman practiced daily, covering vowels, consonants, syllable emphasis and sentence flow.
Riskin said she read the film’s script 200 times.
“I can’t tell you how hard it is to act not in your language,” said Riskin, who spoke to JTA while on an acting stint in Germany, where she was performing in both German and English. “It’s like walking with crutches. They’re not your legs. They’re artificial. To do a full movie in that is amazing.”
What made the project more difficult was that prestate Israelis spoke differently 70 years ago than their descendants do today. Back then, Riskin said, the population had a “mixed multitude” of accents, from local Middle Eastern pronunciations to different shades of European. The contemporary Israeli accent, Riskin said, emerged as a composite of all those.
To be true to her character, who originally is from present-day Ukraine, Portman would have had to adopt a Russian accent. But Riskin thought that would sound like a parody next to the neutral accents of the other actors, who were native Israelis.
“The problem with Natalie is that there were Israeli Russian, Polish, Arabic accents that were legitimate accents, [but] there was only one accent that wouldn’t work and it was American,” Riskin said. “We decided to leave something that sounded foreign, but you don’t know where it comes from.”
Most observers, said Riskin, assume the hardest part of an Israeli accent is pronouncing guttural consonants like the “het” and “resh,” which aren’t so much pronounced as gargled. But Portman had no problem with that; she got hung up on the vowels.
While American English has an array of vowel sounds, the Israeli vowel range is limited. So when Americans pronounce a Hebrew word that features the same vowel twice, like “keshet,” which means rainbow, they tend to change the second “e” into a short “i,” so the word almost becomes “keshit.”
“You need to know how to connect the words in a way that it sounds natural, so you don’t sound like a robot,” Riskin said. “In Israel it sounds much simpler to have one vowel, but for Americans it’s a lot harder to get used to.”
Neta Riskin is also an actress who has been featured in popular Israeli shows, such as “Shtisel.” (Facebook) Neta Riskin is an actress who has been featured in popular Israeli shows such as “Shtisel.” (Facebook) Israeli vowels are pronounced near the front of the mouth, Riskin said, while American sounds come from further back. By putting her palm in front of her lips, Portman could tell how her breath was flowing and where the sounds were coming from.
Riskin also made sure Portman was emphasizing the right syllables and parts of a sentence. While English intonation tends to stay level, Hebrew words and sentences have the emphasis on the last syllable and word. To coach Portman through her word flow, Riskin would have her move her hand along with the word’s undulations, as if she were a symphony conductor.
When a word in the script was difficult for Portman to pronounce correctly, she and Riskin would try to find an easier synonym. The changes fit with Portman’s character, who was meant to speak a relatively basic Hebrew. Her husband, a librarian and author, used more complex words.
Language itself is a theme of the movie. Portman’s character tells stories throughout the film, which also focuses on how words are related. The narrator, Fania’s son Amos, notes the similarity between the Hebrew words for earth (“adamah”), man (“adam”), blood (“dam”), the color red (“adom”) and silence (“d’mamah”).
“We wanted her Hebrew to not be at a high level,” Riskin said. “We wanted everyone to have something a little strange in their language.”
This isn’t the first time Riskin has helped an actor perfect an Israeli accent, but she said the job isn’t in high demand. Hebrew isn’t a widely spoken language outside Israel, and some other actors who portray Israelis don’t seem to care whether they get it right. Riskin was particularly irked by Adam Sandler’s turn in “You Don’t Mess With the Zohan,” a 2008 comedy in which he plays a Mossad agent.
“That drove me crazy,” she said. “That was a Yiddish accent, not an Israeli accent. They speak that way in Brooklyn or in a shtetl, but not in Israel.”
Native speakers of a language, said Riskin, have a quality called “Sprachgefuhl” in German, which means a natural feel for the language’s idioms. It’s impossible to get anyone there in a matter of months, Riskin said, but Portman came close. Riskin said she was “in awe” that Portman not only acted but directed a full film in her second language.
“She needed superpowers to do this all together,” Riskin said. “Even if we cleaned up all of the American characteristics, there would still be a shade of foreignness. If Natalie had stayed in Israel another year, she would have sounded like a sabra.”
Israeli actress Gal Gadot showed off her fierce fighting skills in the much-anticipated first official trailer for the movie “Wonder Woman.”
In the clip, Gadot’s character uses her superhero power to fight against multitudes of men who come at her with guns and cannons.
Gadot, 31, grew up in Israel’s central city Rosh HaAyin. The 2004 Miss Israel winner did her compulsory two year service in the Israel Defense Forces, after which she went on to study law.
Her previous film credits include the “Fast & Furious” series and “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” in which she also played Wonder Woman.
Gadot is married to Israeli real estate developer Yaron Varsano, with whom she has a four-year-old daughter.
Watch the trailer here:
Contact Josefin Dolsten at email@example.com or on Twitter, @JosefinDolsten
It’s just before Rosh Hashanah in 2013, and New York City’s mayoral campaign is heating up.
Disgraced former congressman Anthony Weiner, who in a surprise move had thrown his hat in the ring a few months earlier, is doing one of those obligatory photo ops at a Jewish bakery in Brooklyn.
All is going well. Weiner has picked up an order of cookies laced with honey — sweets for the New Year — and even insisted on paying full retail. As he is leaving the store, though, a man wearing a kippah calls him a “scumbag” and a “deviant.”
Perhaps not surprisingly, the combative politician loses his cool and gets into a verbal confrontation with the heckler — “takes one to know one, jackass” — that makes the evening news.
Such scenes are captured in unflinching detail in “Weiner,” a film that won the Grand Jury Prize for documentary at the Sundance this year. The film follows the campaign from its late but implausibly plausible start — the other candidates had been campaigning for months — to its headline-making flameout.
It offers an insider look at Weiner’s mayoral run. Take, for example, the bakery incident: What the news cameras did not pick up — but the filmmakers’ mics did — was that the heckler also issued a racial slur, noting that the pol is “married to an Arab.” (Weiner’s wife, Huma Abedin, is not Arab. She’s half Indian, half Pakistani.)
But by the time the insult became public, the news cycle had moved on. The damage was already done, further contributing to Weiner’s decline both in the polls and the public’s esteem.
As anyone who read a tabloid or watched a late-night talk show in 2011 likely remembers, Weiner was a scrappy, popular Jewish congressman from New York who gained infamy after he was caught sending an explicit photo to a female Twitter follower. Instead of sending a private message, however, Weiner sent it via his public account, visible to the world. First he denied it, suggesting his account was hacked. Eventually, however, he admitted sending photos to “about six women” and, disgraced, resigned from Congress.
But two years later Weiner tried a comeback.
“I hope that just as my wife has forgiven me, that I get a second opportunity to talk to New Yorkers about the challenges they face,” he said at the time.
When Weiner announced his unexpected run for mayor, Josh Kriegman, a former Weiner staffer turned filmmaker, and his co-director, Elyse Steinberg, were given permission to document his campaign.
“He had been reduced to a punchline, a caricature,” Steinberg told JTA in a telephone interview. “We wanted to have a film go behind the scenes and create a human portrait. That was our intention.”
At first it seemed that was what they were going to get. In a crowded primary field — there were nine candidates running — Weiner defied expectations and took a commanding lead.
“He rose to the top of the polls and we thought we were filming a comeback story,” Kriegman said.
But as the film documents, what happens to Weiner is deja vu all over again, to quote Yogi Berra. In July, just two months after he entered the race, revelations of a new scandal emerged: Even after his resignation from Congress, Weiner was at it again, using the nom de plume Carlos Danger and adding phone sex to his list of offenses.
Ultimately, the documentary creates the human portrait the filmmakers were aiming for — but the portrait is of a deeply flawed human, one with an ego so large and needy that he uncomprehendingly risks everything for long-distance sex.
On the surface, the filmmakers should have been pleased about the second scandal, as it seemed certain to add a level of buzz to the doc. But as Kriegman points out, “It was a pretty exciting story before the scandal broke out again.”
But even as the news broke, Weiner allowed filming to continue. Why?
“It’s a good question,” Kriegman said. “And I don’t know the answer.”
Steinberg believes it was an extension of Weiner’s original motivation going into the filming.
“When the scandal broke again, his desire was to have an opportunity to tell a complete, nuanced story,” Steinberg said.
“The punchline is true about me,” Weiner tells the camera, early in the film. “I did the dumb thing. But I did a lot of good things, too.”
“Weiner” is most compelling when Abedin, a longtime Hillary Clinton staffer, is on screen. From the beginning, it appears as though she is not an eager participant — neither in the campaign process nor the making of the film.
“It took a while, lots of work and a whole lot of therapy before I could forgive him,” she says to the camera before Scandal 2.0 broke.
But once Carlos Danger is set loose, watching Abedin put on a brave face for the camera feels like passing a car accident on the highway: You know you probably shouldn’t look, but you can’t turn away. As a viewer, you almost feel dirty for intruding in what should be private moments, such as her refusal to appear in a campaign commercial.
The approach by Kriegman and Steinberg is more fly-on-the-wall than journalistic — in fact, at one point, Kriegman asks Weiner a question about continuing his run for office, and the ex-congressman tells him flies on the wall are not supposed to speak.
Eventually the filmmakers get a Q&A session with their subject, at one point asking why he felt compelled to sext. In response, a subdued Weiner offers some long-winded psycho babble about his need for affection and how people go into politics because of their inability to connect with others in the real world.
“Weiner” is a political junkies’ dream, a fun behind-the-scenes view of a campaign that’s somewhat similar to “The War Room,” the documentary about Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign for president that ran into a sexual stumbling block of its own — Gennifer Flowers. One major difference: Clinton went on to win.
According to the filmmakers, Weiner has not seen the film and has no plans to do so — which reveals he is capable of making a wise decision.
“Weiner” opens May 20 in New York and Los Angeles, with other cities to follow. It will be available May 26 on VOD.
The 69th Cannes Film Festival has what it takes to be a vintage edition, with Woody Allen leading a pack of celebrated filmmakers presenting their movies to the French Riviera crowds.
The May 11-22 cinema extravaganza opens on Wednesday with Allen’s “Cafe Society,” featuring Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart in a story of a young man who arrives in Hollywood during the 1930s hoping to work in the film industry.
“When we will be old we will tell our children you know I was living at a time when Woody Allen’s films were coming out, and I think he’s one of the greatest auteurs,” festival director Thierry Fremaux told Reuters.
Although he has never been in competition, Allen is a Cannes favorite. This year will be the third time he has opened the festival, and several other familiar faces will be presenting their films in the main competition.
“This year the competition is mostly Cannes favorites, Cannes darlings,” Variety critic Jay Weissberg told Reuters.
“Fremaux is someone who likes to reward his friends, he’s somebody who likes to have the people he knows come back year after year after year.”
The Dardenne brothers, who present “The Unknown Girl,” have won the festival’s highest distinction, the Palme d’Or, twice.
Ken Loach, in Cannes with “I, Daniel Blake” has won it once, while Bruno Dumont; Jim Jarmusch, who is showing two films including a documentary on Iggy Pop; Park Chan-wook; and Pedro Almodovar have all previously scooped other honors.
Jarmusch’s films are two of five distributed by Amazon as the video streaming giant makes its first appearance in Cannes.
While the competition films bring much of the prestige, some of the red carpet glitz will surround some of the out of competition screenings, such as Steven Spielberg’s “The BFG,” based on the novel by Roald Dahl.
Oscar-winner Julia Roberts makes her Cannes debut in Jodie Foster’s out-of competition film “Money Monster,” alongside George Clooney.
“Twilight” star Stewart has been labeled queen of the festival by organizers as she features in “Cafe Society” as well as Olivier Assayas’s “Personal Shopper,” which is vying for the Palme d’Or crown.
Despite the glamour, security will be intense as France is still facing a high risk of attack.
Private security officers will control the Palais des Festivals entry points while “hundreds” of police officers will be deployed as France is still under a state of emergency after last year’s Paris attacks killed 130 people.—Reuters
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