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‘La La Land’ composer, Jewish actors take prizes at Golden Globes

LOS ANGELES (JTA) – Although many of the Jewish Golden Globes nominees went home empty handed, including such respected actors as Natalie Portman, Liev Schreiber or Jonah Hill, a few actors and filmmakers with Jewish ancestry – and one young director who might be classified as an “honorary” Jew – made it to the winner’s podium.

Justin Hurwitz’s musical gifts contributed immeasurably to the success of “La La Land,” the runaway seven-time winner in the musical or comedy film category. He was rewarded with Golden Globes for the movie’s original score and for the original song “City of Stars” at the Sunday night ceremony. Hurwitz is 31, as is Damien Chazelle, the film’s director, and they were roommates as undergraduates at Harvard. Chazelle, who won the Golden Globe nods both as director and screenwriter of “La La Land,” was raised by his two Catholic parents. But, as Chazelle told the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles last year, the parents were dissatisfied with their son’s education at a church Sunday school and enrolled him in the Hebrew school of a liberal synagogue. Over the next four years, Chazelle recalled, “I had that period of my life where I was very, very into Hebrew and the Old Testament, and then I went with my class to Israel when we were in the sixth grade. I don’t think they even knew I wasn’t Jewish; I was, like, ‘passing.’”

Veteran French film star Isabelle Huppert won the top spot as best actress in a drama for her role in the French film “Elle,” which also received a Golden Globe for best for-eign-language movie. Huppert, who plays the role of a successful businesswoman who plots an elaborate revenge on the home intruder who raped her, is the daughter of a Jewish father and a Catholic mother. Her parents married while France was under Nazi occupation, with the father hiding his Jewish roots.

Tracee Ellis Ross won the award for best actress in a musical or comedy TV series for her portrayal of a biracial anesthesiologist in the sitcom “Black-ish,” which follows the life of an upper-middle class African American family. She is the daughter of Jewish music executive Robert Ellis Silberstein and Motown singer Diana Ross.

CAP: Justin Hurwitz

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