Jews in the News: Jonah Hill, Andrew Garfield and Alana Haim

Riffing on the Golden Globes For Holiday Entertainment

The Golden Globe nominations were announced last week, but the future of the awards is unclear. The group that runs the Golden Globes, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), has always been a dubious organization. HFPA members are the only voters for the Globes. Only a handful of its 100 or so members are “serious” journalists who write for respected media outlets. Most are not more than bloggers.

But the big studios have long played “footsie” with the HPFA, because the Golden Globes nominations, and “fun” awards ceremony, gin-up media publicity that gooses box-office receipts.

The HPFA long weathered minor scandals, but the coup de grace came last March when the LA Times reported that the HFPA had no black members, and hasn’t had one since 2002. The HPFA went into overdrive with a proposed “reform” plan, but critics and studios didn’t think it could be implemented (add diverse members, etc.) in time to make the 2022 Globe awards acceptable.

In May, major studios announced they wouldn’t work with the HPFA (provide special screenings of their films, etc.) until major reforms were in place and, in June, NBC announced that they wouldn’t broadcast the Globes ceremony. The HPFA said it will go ahead with the ceremony (Jan. 9, 2022), but its unclear whether any other major media outlet will air/stream it in America.

This all said, I found the new Globe film nominations to be useful as a reasonably good guide as to “what to watch” over the upcoming holiday week.

All five best film (comedy/musical) nominees have a Jewish connection.

“Don’t Look Up" is a satirical sci-fiction film. It opened in a few theaters on Dec. 10 and will begin streaming on Netflix on Dec. 25. Here’s the basic plot: Two low-level astronomers (Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence) must go on a giant media tour to warn mankind of an approaching comet that will destroy our planet.

This film is really a thinly disguised attack on all those who deny climate change is happening. In “Don’t”, the sky is literally falling but all sorts of people, for various reasons, deny the science. Reviews are mixed, with many critics saying that the film makes some good points, but is frequently dis-jointed and heavy-handed. The big ensemble cast has been widely praised. 

JONAH HILL, 37, has a big part as the Chief of Staff to the President, who just happens to be his mother (Meryl Streep). TIMOTHEE CHALAMET, 25, SARAH SILVERMAN, 51, LIEV SCHREIBER, 54, and RON PERLMAN, 71, appear in much smaller roles. Adam McKay (“Anchorman”) directed and co-write the film. (His children were raised in the Jewish faith of his wife, SHIRA PIVEN, 60, the sister of actor JEREMY PIVEN). McKay is an ardent BERNIE SANDERS supporter. The film’s co-writer, DAVID SIROTA, 43, was a senior adviser to the 2020 Sanders’ campaign.

The other four nominees are “Cyrano”, “Licorice Pizza”, “Tick Tick Boom” and “West Side Story”. I have previously discussed all but “Cyrano”, which doesn’t open wide until Jan. 22, 2022. It’s a musical based on the famous play Cyrano DeBergerac. Peter Dinklage plays the title role. This musical ran off-Broadway (2018) to good, if not great reviews. The score was composed by twin brothers, AARON and BRYCE DESSNER, 46. They are members of The National, a well-known arty rock group.

Tick Tick Boom”, about “Rent” composer JONATHAN LARSON, is now streaming on Netflix (ANDREW GARFIELD, 38, is Globe-nominated for playing Larson); “West Side Story” , directed by Steven Spielberg (a Globe nominee), is in theaters, and “Licorice Pizza”, co-starring musician ALANA HAIM, 29, opens wide in theaters on Dec. 25th. Haim got a best actress (comedy) Globe nomination and “Licorice” got great reviews.

Over in the best drama film category, you’ll find three films with a Jewish connection: “Coda”, “King Richard” and “Dune”. I previously noted that “Dune stars Timothee Chalamet. The musical score was written HANS ZIMMER, 64. He got a Globe nomination for best score. “Dune” was a huge box office hit and a sequel is now in the works. Its available on “pay-for-view”.

Likewise, I previously wrote that “King Richard”, about the father of tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams, featured Jon Berenthal, 45, as the sisters’ coach. I recently “dug-out” that film’s screenwriter, Zac Baylin, 42, is the son of a Jewish father. I liked this film more than I thought I would.

Somehow, “Coda”, which began streaming on Apple+ last August, wasn’t on my radar then. The film centers on Emily Rossi, the only member of her family who isn’t deaf. The drama: Will Emily stay home, and be their essential communication helper, or pursue collegiate musical studies? MARLEE MATLIN, 56, co-stars as Emily’s mother.


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