This year is a good one for Jewish talent at the Oscars, with several contenders in some of the big categories. But will they take home the trophies at Sunday’s awards ceremony?
Call Me By Your Name is the most Jewish film up for Best Picture, and its lead, Timothée (pronounced, despite the accent, as Timothy) Chalamet, at just 22 is one of the youngest Best Actor nominees in almost 80 years.
Chalamet, who hails from New York and has a French father and a Jewish-American mother, also appears as Saoirse Ronan’s brilliantly nonchalant love interest in Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird, also up for Best Picture.
In Call Me By Your Name he plays 17-year-old Elio, the son of an Italo-American Jewish family, who falls in love with an older man during a hot Italian summer in the 1980s. Discussions of Jewish identity are woven into the story, with Elio growing gradually more confident about identifying publicly as a Jew. Chalamet himself said last year that the Jewish aspect was integral to the film: “There’s something inexplicable about it that is a driving force.”
He’s nominated for his first lead role, while Daniel Day Lewis, the other Jewish contender for Best Actor is there for the role he’s said will be his last. Day Lewis won Oscars for My Left Foot in 1990, There Will Be Blood in 2008 and Lincoln in 2013. He may well win another for his exquisite performance in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Phantom Thread, where he plays a fussy, neurotic dressmaker.
Steven Spielberg didn’t make the cut for Best Director this time around, but his latest feature film, The Post, still bagged the veteran filmmaker a Best Picture nomination. The Post is a fast-paced, stylish and timely drama telling the story of the Washington Post’s exposé of the infamous Pentagon Papers.
The award for Original Score could well go to Hans Zimmer for his brilliantly atmospheric music for Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk. This is the ninth nomination for Zimmer, who won his one and only Oscar in 1995 for The Lion King. Another contender is Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood, who composed the music for Phantom Thread, and is known for his defiance of the BDS movement. He’s not Jewish, but is married to the Israeli visual artist Sharona Katan.
A contender for Best Song, Benji Pasek is nominated alongside his writing partner Justin Paul for the brilliantly catchy song This Is Me as performed by Keala Settle, from The Greatest Showman. Pasek, Paul and Justin Hurwitz won in this category in 2017 for La La Land’s City of Stars.
As for Jewish women — let’s hope 2019 will be their year.