Submit your Oscars Ballot – Win prizes!

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This ballot will be open until Feb. 22 at 12 p.m. PST.

For official rules and prize description click here.

And the nominees are…


American Sniper
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
The Theory of Everything


Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Richard Linklater, Boyhood
Bennett Miller, Foxcatcher
Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Morten Tyldum, The Imitation Game


Steve Carell, Foxcatcher
Bradley Cooper, American Sniper
Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game
Michael Keaton, Birdman
Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything


Marion Cotillard, Two Days, One Night
Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything
Julianna Moore, Still Alice
Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
Reese Witherspoon, Wild


Robert Duvall, The Judge
Ethan Hawke, Boyhood
Edward Norton, Birdman
Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher
J.K. Simmons, Whiplash


Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
Laura Dern, Wild
Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game
Emma Stone, Birman
Meryl Streep, Into the Woods


Big Hero 6, Don Hall, Chris Williams and Roy Conli
The Boxtrolls, Anthony Stacchi, Graham Annable and Travis Knight
How to Train Your Dragon 2, Dean DeBlois and Bonnie Arnold
Song of the Sea, Tomm Moore and Paul Young
The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, Isao Takahata and Yoshiaki Nishimura


American Sniper, Joel Cox and Gary D. Roach
Boyhood, Sandra Adair
The Grand Budapest Hotel, Barney Pilling
The Imitation Game, William Goldenberg
Whiplash, Tom Cross


Birdman, Emmanuel Lubezki
The Grand Budapest Hotel, Robert Yeoman
Ida, Lukasz Zal and Ryszard Lenczewski
Mr. Turner, Dick Pope
Unbroken, Roger Deakins


American Sniper, Written by Jason Hall
The Imitation Game, Written by Graham Moore
Inherent Vice, Written for the screen by Paul Thomas Anderson
The Theory of Everything, Screenplay by Anthony McCarten
Whiplash, Written by Damien Chazelle


Birdman, Written by Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr. & Armando Bo
Boyhood, Written by Richard Linklater
Foxcatcher, Written by E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman
The Grand Budapest Hotel, Screenplay by Wes Anderson; Story by Wes Anderson & Hugo Guinness
Nightcrawler, Written by Dan Gilroy


“Everything Is Awesome,” The LEGO Movie
“Glory,” Selma
“Grateful,” Beyond the Lights
“I'm Not Gonna Miss You,” Glen Campbell … I'll Be Me
“Lost Stars,” Begin Again


The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
Mr. Turner
The Theory of Everything


The Grand Budapest Hotel
Inherent Vice
Into the Woods
Mr. Turner

Ida, Belgium
Leviathan, Russia
Tangerines, Estonia
Timbuktu, Mauritania
Wild Tales, Argentina


Finding Vivian Maier
Last Days in Vietnam
The Salt of the Earth


Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1
Our Curse
The Reaper (La Parka)
White Earth


Boogaloo and Graham
Butter Lamp (La Lampe au Beurre de Yak)
The Phone Call


The Bigger Picture
The Dam Keeper
Me and My Moulton
A Single Life


The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
Into the Woods
Mr. Turner


The Grand Budapest Hotel
Guardians of the Galaxy


Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Guardians of the Galaxy
X-Men: Days of Future Past

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First Prize: A $50 gift card for Spaghettini & the Fave Koz Lounge


Second Prize: A pair of tickets to see Dunsiane on March 27 at 8 PM at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts


Third Prize: A $50 gift card for Fresh Brothers


Fourth Prize: A pair of tickets to see Marth Graham Dance Company on April 18 at 8 PM at The Valley Performing Arts Center


Fifth Prize: A signed copy of “The Kindness of the Hangman” by Henry Oster & Dexter Ford



*Limitations may apply*

TERMS AND CONDITIONS: Official Contest Rules and Prize Description


The Jewish Journal Ballot Contest (the Contest) is sponsored by Tribe Media Corp. and Los Angeles Jewish Publications, Inc., (owner and publisher of The Jewish Journal), having an address of 3580 Wilshire Blvd. Suite 1510, Los Angeles, CA 90010 (“Sponsor”).

 No purchase necessary to enter. The Jewish Journal Oscar Giveaway is open to U.S. residents, 21 years of age or older, except employees of Los Angeles Jewish Publications, Inc., subsidiaries, advertising or promotion agencies (if any), members of their respective families or persons living in the same household. Void where prohibited by law. All applicable federal, state and local laws apply.

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Design lessons from Oscar-nominated movies

This year’s crop of Oscar contenders is filled with memorable performances, meditations on life and death, nail-biting suspense and, yes, valuable decorating lessons. If you’ve ever sat through a movie and wondered not whether the butler did it, but where the butler bought that sofa, you’ll know what I’m talking about. 

“The Grand Budapest Hotel”

Color is a storyteller. It sets the mood. It stirs our emotions. And “The Grand Budapest Hotel” — both the movie and its titular hotel — is drenched in delicious color. From the bubblegum pink exterior in the hotel’s heyday — with the peacock blue rooftops (swoon) — to the glossy red lacquer inside the hotel elevators (double swoon), the movie’s color palette tells its story as much as the script. We know immediately that the Grand Budapest is a place of luxury and whimsy. And when the hotel becomes dilapidated in its later years, the colors turn muddy shades of olive and amber, as our hearts sink a little at its decline. 

What is the lesson here for our own homes? Color, baby! A $20 gallon of paint can transform the mood of a room even more than an expensive piece of furniture. This doesn’t mean you have to paint your walls pink like the Grand Budapest. We’re all different, and we react to colors differently. Any color you choose — even white — is fine, as long as it makes you happy. (OK, I take that back. Swiss coffee is not a color. Don’t pick that one.)

“Gone Girl”

At first, the home of the characters played by Ben Affleck and Oscar-nominated Rosamund Pike seems absolutely perfect. The patrician gray walls, the ebony hardwood floors and the oh-so-tasteful furniture look straight out of a design catalog. But director David Fincher’s lens has purposely drained the interiors of life. The perfection is sterile. There is no soul, no blood. Well (spoiler alert!), except, that is, for all the plasma Pike throws all over the kitchen floor. 

Gone Girl shows us that when it comes to home decor, perfection is not all it’s cracked up to be. Making your home look like a model home without showcasing your own unique personality results in a hollow shell. Fill your home with things that reflect the real you, and don’t worry whether it would be approved by the editors of Architectural Digest. Mismatched furniture? A-OK. Flea-market finds? Yes, please. As with people, a home’s personality is much more important than perfect looks.


There is not a lot of interior design to get excited about in Richard Linklater’s critical favorite. In fact, the director shows the passage of time not through furniture styles, but through the electronic devices used by the protagonist, Mason. One design element that really struck me, though, was the film’s use of children’s art — from the art taped to walls when the characters are younger, to the photographs and abstract paintings the older Mason exhibits. 

When the film begins, Mason and his sister share a room with a bunk bed, with murals painted next to each of their respective bunks. In a behind-the-scenes featurette on Hulu, Oscar-nominated Patricia Arquette, who plays their mother, reveals that she and the young actors actually painted those murals together. So it’s particularly heartbreaking when she has to paint over them when their fictional family has to move. 

Your home might feature many notable pieces of art, but the most valuable could be your child’s. A child’s artwork offers a snapshot of a particular moment in time. Collected through the years, they represent milestones captured in pencil, crayon and tempera paint. Honor the art. Frame it. Display it. Archive it. I wish my mother had saved all my drawings through the years. Boyhood doesn’t last, but the memories created by art can last a lifetime.


Almost the entirety of “Birdman” takes place in the dressing rooms and narrow hallways of the St. James Theatre in New York. In fact, however, it was not filmed in the actual backstage area, but on a set so realistic, you can smell the greasepaint. This serves as an apt metaphor: Your life is like a movie, and everything around you is the set. 

Although we probably don’t live this fantasy to the extreme that Michael Keaton’s character does, the concept offers a great brainstorming method for decorating. For example, if your home were your movie set, what kind of scene would you want to live in — a Jane Austen comedy of manners with English antiques? Or a sleek, modern penthouse à la Christian Grey (with or without the Red Room)? Using a movie as a guide can give you ideas on everything from furniture to flooring to accessories.

Perhaps that’s the decorating lesson in all these movies. Create a space for yourself that will make you look and feel inspired — like a winner. You may not win an Oscar, but in a home that’s comfortable and stylish, you’ll certainly feel like a star.

Jonathan Fong is the author of “Walls That Wow,” ”Flowers That Wow” and “Parties That Wow,” and host of “Style With a Smile” on YouTube. You can see more of his do-it-yourself projects on

Sibling Rivalry

I have three sisters, two older and one younger. My youngest sister, Debbie, was born when I was 8 years old. In the months leading up to her birth, I remember clearly the anxiety I felt over the possibility that it might turn out to be a boy and I might end up with a brother.

I suppose most 8-year-old boys would be thrilled at the possibility of having a younger brother to play with, boss around and teach the important ways of boyhood. So I must not be like most young boys. For months I had been telling my parents that if my mother gave birth to another boy, I was moving out and leaving the family! I was definitely not up for any competition in the boy department of my family — sorry, that job was already taken.

So, when the fateful day arrived on Oct. 9, 1957, I recall the anxiety and anticipation with which I greeted the arrival of my yet-to-be-known sibling.

I was sitting in class when a call came in asking that I be sent down to the principal’s office. I knew immediately it must have something to do with the impending birth of my sibling, so I raced down to the office, where I found my father waiting for me and my sister Candy, who was in another class at the same school. When, with a big smile, our dad informed us that we had a new baby sister, I was thrilled and couldn’t wait to welcome Debbie into the family.

But as the years went by, reality set in, and I became convinced every time my parents let Debbie do something that they would never have allowed me to do at the same age, that it must mean they loved her more — and I was jealous.

I even recall teaming up with an older sister to bring our “grievances” to the attention of our parents so we could enlighten them as to how unfair they were being and how unequally we were being treated. And I remember how deep the feelings could be.

So when I read this week’s Torah portion reminding us about the intense sibling rivalry between Jacob and Esau, and how fearful Jacob was of meeting up with his brother once again, knowing how he had abused and mistreated him, I thought back with great sadness on my own misplaced childhood jealousies and insecurities.

The fact is that too often parents do love their children differently, showing preference for one over the other and letting them know in a hundred different ways that no matter what they do, they will never really measure up. I see it in my work as a rabbi all the time, and every time I do it breaks my heart, knowing how fragile children’s egos really are.

In Vayishlach, we catch a glimpse of something remarkable, something redemptive in the human soul. When Jacob finally meets up with Esau bringing along his childhood fears and vulnerabilities, “Esau ran to greet him. He embraced him and, falling on his neck, he kissed him; and they wept” (Genesis 33:4). And Jacob, startled and awed by the open love of his brother, sweeping away decades of hurt and fear, replied, “To see your face is like seeing the face of God” (Genesis 33:10).

Would that we could all be as generous of spirit as Esau. Perhaps our real challenge from the Torah this week is to embrace the spiritual gifts of both brothers — from Esau to learn generosity of spirit, and from Jacob to look into the eyes of everyone we meet and have the vision to see the face of God.