Along with many others, I was surprised and disappointed at the failure of “Waltz with Bashir” to win Best Foreign Language Film honors at the Academy Awards ceremony. “Bashir” was a remarkable cinematic achievement.
Bradley Burston, a Haaretz columnist, has reacted to this turn of events with an acerbic column on “how Hollywood likes its Jews”; he contrasts Kate Winslet’s win for Best Actress for portraying a Holocaust-related character with the loss for “Bashir.” He even quotes Winslet in an awful-sounding snippet in an interview with Ricky Gervais about why she has chosen to play a role in such a film:
Gervais: You doing this, it’s so commendable, using your profile to keep the message alive about the Holocaust.
Winslet: God, I’m not doing it for that. We definitely don’t need another film about the Holocaust, do we? It’s like, how many have there been? You know, we get it. It was grim. Move on. I’m doing it because I noticed that if you do a film about the Holocaust, you’re guaranteed an Oscar. I’ve been nominated four times. Never won. The whole world is going, ‘Why hasn’t Winslet won one?’ … That’s why I’m doing it. Schindler’s bloody List. The Pianist. Oscars coming outta their ass …
Kate Winslet is a marvelously talented English actress who is married to the well-known film director, Sam Mendes, who happens to be a Jew. She fully deserved her Oscar for “The Reader”; I don’t agree with Burston that her work in “The Reader” (as opposed to “Revolutionary Road”) was less than stellar.
Still, there’s a cynical edge to this exchange that I find appalling, but it evidently helps Burston make his point that “Hollywood knows exactly how it likes its Jews: Victims. Civilian victims. Targets of genocide. None of this Goliath stuff. None of these pre-emptive, disproportionate, morally amorphous behaviors.”