The 91st Academy Awards will be on ABC at 5 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 24. Here are the confirmed Jewish nominees, and other interesting tidbits, in all but the technical categories.
Rachel Weisz, 48, has been nominated for best supporting actress for her role in “The Favourite.” Thirteen years ago, Weisz won an Oscar in the same category for her role in ‘The Constant Gardener.” In other acting categories, Melissa McCarthy is up for best actress for playing the late forger Lee Israel in “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” and Adam Driver is a best supporting actor nominee for playing a Jewish police officer in “BlacKkKlansman.”
In the music categories, the best original score nominees include Nicholas Britell, 38 (“If Beale Street Could Talk”) and Marc Shaiman, 59 (“Mary Poppins Returns”). Britell was nominated in 2016 for his score for “Moonlight.” Mark Ronson, 43, and Diane Warren, 62 are each nominated for best original song; Ronson co-wrote “Shallow” for “A Star Is Born,” which already has earned him a Golden Globe award, and Warren wrote “I’ll Fight,” sung by Jennifer Hudson and used in the film “RBG” about Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 85.
In the best adapted screenplay category, one of the nominees is the Netflix original “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs,” an anthology of Western tall tales written by four-time Oscar winners Joel Coen, 64, and his brother, Ethan Coen, 61. Another is “BlacKkKlansman,” whose original film script (based on a book) was written by Charlie Wachtel and David Rabinowitz, both 32. They sold their script to director Spike Lee, after which changes were made, so it’s Lee and screenwriter Kevin Willmott who are the nominees. “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” and “A Star Is Born” are also nominated in this category. The former was co-written by Nicole Holofcener, 58, and the latter was co-written by Eric Roth, 73. This is Roth’s fifth nominee in this category; his one win was in 1995 for “Forrest Gump.”
Nominees in the category of best animated feature include each film’s writer(s), main producer and director(s). This year’s list includes Scott Rudin, 60, the producer of “Isle of Dogs,” and Rodney Rothman, 45ish, a co-writer and co-director of “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.”
Meanwhile, “Animal Behaviour” is nominated for best animated short. Co-directed by Canadian David Fine, 58, and his wife, Alison Snowden, 1995 winners in this category for “Bob’s Birthday,” the 14-minute film is about a group of animals that meet each week for group therapy.
“RGB” is up for best feature-length documentary after emerging as one of 2018’s surprise hits. It was co-directed and co-produced by Julie Cohen, 54, who has just the right background for such a film: a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia and a master’s in legal studies from Yale. Her brother, Bruce Cohen, 57, won the 1999 best picture Oscar for producing “American Beauty.” If Julie wins, she and her brother will be the 10th pair of Oscar-winner siblings, and five of the previous nine are/were Jewish.
In the documentary short category, nominee “Black Sheep,” a film about the effects of racism on a young black man in England, was produced by Jonathan Chinn, 50ish. Also, “End Game,” a film about end-of-life care, was co-directed and co-produced by Rob Epstein, 63, and Jeffrey Friedman, 67, who both live and work in the Bay Area. Epstein won Oscars in 1985 for “The Times of Harvey Milk” and in 1990 for “Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt.” Both filmmakers live and work in the Bay Area; Epstein took the bus from New York to San Francisco when he was 19 and landed his first job as a usher at the Castro Theater.
“Skin,” the 20-minute short version, a tale of white supremacy with a twist, is up for best live-action short film. It was co-produced by actress Jaime Ray Newman, 40, and her Israeli husband, Guy Nattiv, 45, who also directed. A 110-minute version of “Skin,” which uses the same title, got good reviews at the 2018 Toronto Film Festival and was picked up for national distribution sometime this year.
In the best film category, the only Jew among the nominees (the films’ principal producers) appears to be Jason Blum, 49 (“BlacKkKlansman”).
Also keep an eye out for “A Night at the Garden,” nominated for best short documentary. Director Marshall Curry, 48, hunted for and found all the available footage of a notorious 1938 Madison Square Garden rally put on by the pro-Nazi German-American Bund. Also, “Cold War” from Poland is competing for best foreign film. The film’s director-producer, Pawel Pawlikowski, had a paternal Jewish grandmother who died at Auschwitz.