February 27, 2011
Jews and Oscars: The Night’s Minyan [SLIDESHOW]
During a brief moment of the opening montage of Sunday’s Academy Award ceremony, hosts James Franco and Anne Hathaway played with a dreidel, which proved to be a good omen that a good night awaited Jewish talent.
Among the top winners, Israel-born Natalie Portman, beaming and proudly pregnant, walked off with the best-actress trophy for her portrayal of a tortured ballerina in “Black Swan.”
“The King’s Speech” was named best picture, and Emile Sherman, scion of a prominent Australian Jewish family, accepted as one of the three producers.
Jewish writers swept the boards, with Britain’s David Seidler of “The King’s Speech” winning for original screenplay and Aaron Sorkin of “The Social Network” for adapted screenplay.
The 73-year old Seidler, like his film’s subject, grew up as a stutterer. His paternal grandparents perished in the Holocaust.
Danish director-writer Susanne Bier, who studied for two years at the Hebrew University and the Bezalel Academy in Jerusalem, took the best foreign-language film statuette for “In a Better World,” a story of conflicted family relationship.
Story continues after the jump.
Bier’s forebears fled persecution in Nazi Germany and Czarist Russia respectively, and she was raised in an observant Jewish home.
Israeli contenders in various categories were eliminated early on this year, but a short documentary on the work of the Bialik-Rogozin School in south Tel Aviv won in its category.
The film, “Strangers No More” by American filmmakers Kirk Simon and Karen Goodman, chronicles the school’s devoted efforts to educate and integrate students from 48 countries, many the children of foreign workers.
Director-writer Lee Unkrich accepted the award for his animated feature “Toy Story 3.” And for the same movie, veteran composer Randy Newman got his second Oscar (from among his 20 nods) for his song “We Belong Together.”
The award for sound mixing went to Lora Hirschberg and two colleagues for their contribution to “Inception.”
If the 10 Jewish Oscar winners were inclined to thank a higher power for their good fortune, they were enough to make up a minyan.
Their ranks were augmented by an array of Oscar presenters, including Kirk Douglas, Scarlett Johansson, Billy Crystal and Steven Spielberg.
And co-host James Franco added another heimishe note by introducing his beaming Jewish mother and grandmother, both sitting in the audience.