December 15, 2009
Nikki Finke on ‘the delicate Jewish issue’ facing this year’s Oscar race
During last year’s Oscar race, the question of an oversaturation of Holocaust film dominated discussion among Jews in Hollywood and in the mainstream press.
In fact, the year 2008 saw no less than four major theatrical releases riffing on Holocaust narrative including, “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas,” “Adam Resurrected,” “The Reader,” (for which Kate Winslet won the Best Actress Oscar) and “Valkyrie.”
All this prompted New York Times film critic A.O. Scott to address Hollywood’s obsession with the Holocaust in an article entitled, “Never Forget. You’re Reminded.” In it, he joked that industry trades Variety and The Hollywood Reporter, who thrive off of “For Your Consideration” ads promoting awards contenders, would be “overrun by Nazis.”
This year has seen yet another WWII/Holocaust narrative with Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds,” which has re-ignited discussion of the Holocaust’s hold on Hollywood, though its fantastic elements (Hitler is slaughtered by a pack of vengeful Jews) as well as its humor, hardly qualify it in the same category as “Schindler’s List.”
No doubt its labeling as a “Jewish revenge fantasy” and a “re-writing of the Holocaust” will continue to stir the seeds of debate, but only in relationship to other films also generating attention for their treatment of Jewish subjects. Among these is the Coen brothers portrait of their Midwestern Jewish upbringing in “A Serious Man” and the relationship between an older, morally debased Jewish man and an impressionable high school student in “An Education.”
Hollywood journalist Nikki Finke weighs in on the Oscar buzz—or badmouthing—surrounding this year’s Jewishly-themed films. (She also gives a shout out to Irina Bragin’s critique of “An Education” that was recently published in The Jewish Journal’s print edition, though you can also read it here.)