Natalie, Oscar, and the future of the Jewish people(Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
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Oscar Night!

We did slightly better than a coin flip

by
Allison Hoffman
February 28, 2011
Natalie, Oscar, and the future of the Jewish people(Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Look, we warned you before last night’s Oscars that Tablet is not in the business of predicting winners. So to those of you who went ahead and relied on our cheat sheet to make your pool choices, well, better luck next time: We only managed to go five for ten. But three of those five misses—best actor, director, and film—went to The King’s Speech over The Social Network, and as we’ve noted before, the English film is, underneath it all, the invention of a Jewish kid working out his own hang-ups about stuttering. So, wash.

Anyway, never mind, there was still plenty of Jewish shtick to go around. The evening’s opening montage included a shot of co-hosts Anne Hathaway and James Franco spinning a dreidel, and then Franco gave a shout out to his “part-Jewish” grandmother, Mitzi Levine Verne, in the audience. “I just saw Marky Mark!” she crowed, on cue. Billy Crystal showed up to do some classic Catskills softshoe. (Dear producers: You know what plays really well with younger viewers? ‘90s nostalgia.) Bob Hope appeared in a clip reel making his best-known Jewish joke: “Welcome to the Academy Awards – or as it’s known in my house – Passover.” And Kirk Douglas, aged 94 and suffering from the aftereffects of a severe stroke, nevertheless proved himself to be Hollywood’s most incorrigible flirt. (But a successful one, apparently: Replied Melissa Leo, “What are you doing later on?”)

Also, the winner in the best documentary short subject category, Strangers No More, is about a school in Tel Aviv that takes in students from war-torn countries. This morning, the entrance was decorated with a sign reading, “We have the Oscar, congratulations!” But a 14-year-old student told Yediot Aharonoth, “For my friends the best prize will be to stay in Israel and not be deported back to Africa.” Cue heartbreak.

Allison Hoffman is a senior editor at Tablet Magazine. Her Twitter feed is @allisont_dc.

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