(JTA) — When Adam Sandler was shut out of this year’s Academy Award nominations for “Uncut Gems,” the Oscars lost out on the chance to have an acceptance speech as hilarious as the one Sandler delivered Feb. 8 at the Independent Film Spirit Awards.
But this year’s Oscars had some pretty wonderful Jewish moments nonetheless. Here’s a roundup.
Māori Jewish director, writer and actor Taika Waititi, 44, took home the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for “Jojo Rabbit,” his first Oscar win and the first ever by an Indigenous director. Waititi’s “anti-hate” satire about a boy who has Adolf Hitler as an imaginary friend, was up for six awards, but Waititi’s win was the only one for the film.
Jewish actress Natalie Portman and Jewish actor Timothée Chalamet presented Waititi with the award.
In the press room after winning, Waititi echoed his mother’s sentiment on the prescience of the film. He said he made the film in response to a “resurgence of hate and intolerance and hate speech.”
Idina Menzel, the voice of Elsa in “Frozen” (and its sequel) performed the Oscar-nominated song “Into the Unknown” with backup performers from around the world.
The Jewish mom was introduced by her Jewish “Frozen” co-star, Josh Gad, who made a point to pronounce her name correctly, saying, “the iconic and brilliant Idina Menzel, pronounced exactly as it is spelled.” (A dig at John Travolta, who could not pronounce her name at the 2014 ceremony.)
Natalie Portman’s dress was embroidered with the names of eight female directors who were snubbed by the Academy this year: Lulu Wang (“The Farewell”), Greta Gerwing (“Little Women”), Alma Har’el (“Honey Boy”), Lorene Scafaria (“Hustlers”), Celine Sciamma (“Portrait of a Lady on Fire”), Melina Matsoukas (“Queen & Slim”), Marielle Heller (“A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”), and Mati Drop (“Atlantics”).
Israeli director Alma Har’el, who was included on the dress, tweeted: “My first time at the Oscars couldn’t have been more beautiful.”
Portman and Chalamet were among several Jewish celebrities to be part of the host-less awards show. Beanie Feldstein, Gal Gadot, Steven Spielberg and Maya Rudolph also got to hand out prizes.
Presented by Jewish director Steven Spielberg — the “in memoriam” segment honored those Hollywood lost this year. As Billie Eilish sang, the show paid tribute to “Schindler’s List” producer and Holocaust survivor Branko Lustig; iconic Jewish actress Sylvia Miles; and Buck Henry, screenwriter of “The Graduate” and “Get Smart.” The awards show also memorialized Kirk Douglas, the actor born Issue Danielovich who died last week at 103.