Why wasn’t Topol In Memoriam and other Jewish Oscar thoughts

Kate Capshaw and Steven Spielberg attend the 95th Annual Academy Awards on March 12, 2023 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images)

I know there will be those who say that the Oscars must have had some cut-off date for the stars for In Memoriam, and that Chaim Topol, one of the most iconic Jewish film actors of all time, who starred as Tevye in “Fiddler on the Roof,” died after they had already set up their segment. With all the money for the show, I think they could have included him.

I hope this was not the work of Fruma-Sarah who haunted Tevye in his “dream.”

There was a clear thought process to have John Travolta announce the “In Memoriam” as the first actress was Olivia Newton-John, who co-starred with Travolta in Grease as the beautiful Sandy. Lenny Kravitz, son of a Jewish father, beautifully performed “Calling All Angels.” I don’t understand the thought process behind excluding Topol.

Jamie Lee Curtis, whose father is Jewish and who has spoken out loudly against antisemitism, won Best Supporting Actress for her role as a violent villain and bank officer, Deirde, in “Everything Everywhere All Sat Once.” Curtis thanked her husband Christopher Guest.

“I know it looks like I’m standing up here by myself, but I am not, I’m hundreds of people,” she said, listing her co-stars, the film’s directors, her family and fans. “We just won an Oscar together.”

She looked like she was about to cry.

Stephanie Hsu and Angela Basset, who played Joy and Ramonda in “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” were both better than Curtis as they had more nuance, and hers was mainly violence.

“The Fabelmans” — a story largely about Steven Spielberg’s Jewish upbringing and antisemitism he faced, while showing the difficulty divorce has on a child — got shut out.

Spielberg did not win Best Director and the film did not win Best Picture, as “the Daniels” directors Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert won Best Director and their film “Everything Everywhere All at Once” won Best Picture. This is a case of Hollywood momentum acting and overhyping a film.

I challenge anyone reading this to watch both films and tell me that “Everything Everywhere All At Once” was not repetitive and doing strange things for the sake of being strange. It goes without saying that the film had some great messages, but in its totality, it was not the best film of the year.

Michelle Yeoh (“Everything Everywhere All At Once”) beat Michelle Williams (“The Fabelmans”), becoming the first Asian woman to win the Oscar for Best Actress.

I thought Williams was slightly better, but I could see that many saw the two as close to even. Williams’ role required her to pretend to be happy while she secretly pined for her husband’s friend Bennie, played by Seth Rogen. In one crucial scene, she asks her son not to tell their father that she has feelings for his friend.

The 88-year-old actor Judd Hirsch, who played an Eastern European Jewish grandfather in “The Fabelmans,” was very good, but Ke Huy Quan, who won the Oscar for playing Waymond Wang (“Everything Everywhere All At Once”) was a bit better and deserved the win. His speech was inspiring as tears welled in his eyes.

Host Jimmy Kimmel noted the many sequels and franchises.“ They say Hollywood is running out of new ideas, I mean poor Steven Spielberg had to make a movie about Steven Spielberg,” he joked.

“Right here, this is my favorite duo of the year: Steven Spielberg and Seth Rogen. What a pair. The Joe and Hunter Biden of Hollywood,” Kimmel joked. He later said Spielberg is the first director to be nominated in six different decades. But he didn’t win.

“Till” certainly deserved to be nominated for an Oscar for Best Picture, as did “The Woman King.” For Kimmel to say there were some good films not nominated and mention “Till” and The Woman Warrior,” was one time he was trying to be serious.

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