On December 18 The Academy Awards announced its shortlist for some of the ceremony’s smaller categories.
Jews are well represented in the Best Documentary Feature category. Betsy West and Julie Cohen’s Ruth Bader Ginsburg film “RBG” made the list alongside Tim Wardle’s “Three Identical Strangers,” which told the bombshell story of Jewish triplets separated at birth. Also in the running is Alexandria Bombach’s “On Her Shoulders” which tells the story of Nadia Murad, a survivor of sexual slavery under ISIS after the terrorist organization’s genocide of the Yazidi people.
The Best Documentary Short category shortlisted Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman’s “End Game,” which looks at healthcare for the terminally ill; Marshall Curry’s“A Night at the Garden,” which examines a 1939 Nazi rally held at Madison Square Garden; Gordon Quinn’s “’63 Boycott,” about students who boycotted Chicago public schools that supported segregation; and “Women in the Gulag” by director Marianna Yarovskaya. Best Foreign-Language Film hopefuls include Paweł Pawlikowski’s Polish film, “Cold War.” Pawlikowski won this category in 2015 with his film “Ida” about a nun who learns of her Jewish ancestry. And “Never Look Away,” by the German director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, is about an art student who learns his lover’s father was involved in the Nazi eugenics program.
Best Original Score aspirants number Carter Burwell’s work for the Coen brothers’ “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs,” Terrance Blanchard’s music for Spike Lee’s “BlacKkKlansman” and James Newtown Howard’s themes from “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindlewald.” Justin Hurwitz, who won the category in 2017 for “La La Land” is on the shortlist for his work on frequent collaborator Damian Chazelle’s “First Man” and Nicholas Britell is on twice for Barry Jenkins’ “If Beale Street Could Talk” and Adam McKay’s “Vice.” Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman were shortlisted for their tunes for “Mary Poppins Returns,” directed by Rob Marshall.
Shaiman’s work on that film also gained him two spots on the shortlist for Best Original Song. Grammy-winning producer and songwriter Mark Ronson is also doubly nominated for “Shallow” from Bradley Cooper’s “A Star is Born,” co-written by Lady Gaga, Andrew Wyatt and Anthony Rossomando, and “Reachin’” written with Quincy Jones for the documentary “Quincy” about Jones’ life. “Revealation” by Troye Sivan and Jónsi for Joel Edgerton’s “Boy Erased” is getting attention, as is “I’ll Fight” penned by the legendary Diane Warren for “RBG.” And the first Jewish Disney princess’ banner song, “A Place Called Slaughter Race,” written by Alan Menken, also makes the list for its appearance in “Ralph Breaks the Internet.”
Contenders for Best Animated Short include “Animal Behavior” by the Oscar-winning team of Alison Snowden and David Fine, who last won in 1995 for their short “Bob’s Birthday.” And the Best Live Action Short shortlist features Israeli director Guy Nattiv’s “Skin,” about racial tensions in an American blue-collar town.
The short list always comes with its share of snubs; this year is no exception. “Here Comes the Change,” Kesha’s original song for Ruth Bader Ginsburg biopic “On the Basis of Sex,” was overlooked, as was “The Cakemaker” Israel’s Best Foreign-Language Film entry.
PJ Grisar is the Forward’s culture intern. He can be reached at Grisar@Forward.com.