Judaism’s ongoing effect on the Academy Awards
- By Kyle Glatz --
- 09 Feb 2015 --
Regardless of a call for more cultural diversity in Hollywood, the Jewish community continues to make its mark on cinema.
Jewish filmmakers and actors have populated Hollywood and produced some of the most memorable pieces of art in the history of the Academy Awards. The effects of these men and women in the movie business have been seen time and time again as they reign in numerous awards for excellence. With the Academy Awards season coming once again, some are beginning to wonder if the influence of Jewish people is beginning to wane in Hollywood.
A Call For Diversity
One of the reasons that some people have questioned whether there are fewer Jewish stars or stories is that there has been a greater call for diversity. Perhaps more people are finding that they are able to get directing and producing jobs without having older connections within the industry. A more likely way that an increase in diversity might be lessening the prevalence of Jewish individuals in the industry is that there are all manner of new stories to tell.
With films like 12 Years A Slave re-examining America’s harsh, dark past, and a new flood of superhero films drawing heavily from the science fiction crowd, there is a need for fresh faces and views. Many awards have been granted to actors and actresses in roles that require expertise from other places within the industry. However, does this spell doom for the effects of Judaism in Hollywood? It seems unlikely that those who have had such an influence on the industry can be counted out.
"The Grand Budapest Hotel," "Ida" and "Wild Tales" are among the Oscar nominees with Jewish connections. #AcademyAwards
— m.anna (@aslimmisin) January 16, 2015
This Year’s Academy Awards
While there are not many films that deal with overtly Jewish themes, there are some major films contending for Oscars with Jewish connections. For example, The Imitation Game deals with the story of Alan Turing, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, and his quest to break a Nazi code. While not an overt story about the war and the atrocities committed, the connection is still there. Also, with the producers of the film, Nora Grossman and Ido Ostrowsky, who are both Jewish, the film shows that some of the major works still have a distinct Jewish presence. Graham Moore, a Jewish screenwriter, was also nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay for the film.
Even on the historical side of Alan Turing’s program, which takes place at the estate, Bletchley Park, there were hundreds of Jewish people employed to help crack the Nazi code. The film also includes some of his assistants who helped during the war effort.
The Grand Budapest Hotel was produced by Scott Rudin, who is Jewish and was inspired in part by the Austrian-Jewish author Stefan Zwieg. The Grand Budapest Hotel is nominated for nine awards.
Famous Jewish composer Hans Zimmer is also nominated for Interstellar‘s score. Yesterday, Zimmer performed with Pharrell Williams and Chinese classical pianist Lang Lang in a renditions of Williams’ song “Happy” at the 57th Annual Grammy Awards.
A Less Obvious, But Substantial Position
This shows that there will be a Jewish presence at the Oscars this year and in the future. While this year may not have the overt presence of Jewish people in acting and directing roles, there are still many stories and roles fulfilled by Jewish personnel. Their rich history at the Academy Awards should not only serve as a reminder of long-lasting relationships built within the industry, but that their contributions will be felt forever.