Greatest Jewish Hits: What to watch in Jewish entertainment this week


Dan Buffa, Special For The Jewish Light

What should we watch? A question as universal as what you put on popcorn and what drink you would like never goes unused. The hard part of the day is over, so a movie has to be consumed. If not a movie, a television show because there will be more to watch and discuss afterwards. It’s the question that haunts the minds of Hollywood executives and the studios they run. What should you watch, and will it be my preferred project?

For my final “What to Watch” article, I will take an unusual approach and name the one movie you should watch for a large handful of Jewish actors and actresses. Last week, we did Seth Rogen’s essential roles for his birthday, so we can skip him. I can tell you that the Jewish superhero, Oscar Isaac’s “Moon Knight,” is about to debut its final episodes on Apple TV Plus.

I can tell you that the whole world is watching Jewish actress Julia Garner in Netflix’s much-talked-about “Ozark,” which released its final episodes on Friday. PBS has a pair of highly-engaging and rewarding documentaries about Holocaust survivors playing right now on their networks.

But, let’s pick five prominent Jewish thespians and filmmakers and I will not provide their most celebrated role or the most popular. Instead, I will find one that you may have missed. Let’s get started with the Jewish Godfather of filmmaking himself.


~The Steven Spielberg film you should watch this weekend is “Bridge of Spies.” Hard to not choose a Tom Hanks film with S.S. due to their frequent collaborations (think Scorsese and DiCaprio, Denzel and Tony Scott). “Spies” revolved around an American lawyer negotiating with the Russians during the Cold War for the release of a hostage, talks that could determine the course of the war. Along with a riveting storytelling structure and a wonderful cast, this Spielberg film had a resounding payoff.

~The Scarlett Johansson film you should seek out is “Marriage Story.” For as much praise as Laura Dern and Adam Driver received, it was the Jewish actress who stood out. Playing a mother and wife whom the audience sees goes through a period of rebirth after separation, and how her life evolves and changes through the process of a breakup. She’s always been able to act, but this was her big one.

~The Liev Schreiber movie you need to see is “Chuck.” You may not know that the idea of Rocky Balboa was inspired by a New Jersey pugilist who once knocked down Sugar Ray Leonard. Schreiber, who is known to audiences mostly as “Ray Donovan” or the voiceover guy from HBO Sports, got to play Chuck Wepner and delivered a soulful performance as a down and out fighter living off the fame of one lucky punch.

~The Jon Bernthal movie you should stop whatever you’re doing and watch is “Sweet Virginia.” He played a former rodeo star who washed out to the waters of small hotel management, one that places him in the path of a killer (Christopher Abbott.) Bernthal has grown from reliable supporting actor to confident leading man and ensemble player lately, but this Jamie N. Dagg 2017 film is a pure indie that lived and breathed on his understated portrayal of unexpected heroism.

~The Natalie Portman film you need to watch is “Closer.” People know “Black Swan” and other high profile Portman roles by now, but this one happened around a heavily decorated cast (Julia Roberts, Clive Owen, Jude Law) and dealt with a subject matter (divorce and breakup) in an unflinching manner. That requires a high level of performer, and Portman lived up to the troublesome role of a single woman who can’t seem to stay out of drama.

Thanks for reading the weekly bursts of movies, shows, books, songs, and news you should know about. It’s been my pleasure to inform, spread the word about, and discuss entertainment with you. See you on down the road of written persuasion.