• Golden Globe Awards

Israelis at the Golden Globes

This week Israel is celebrating its 75th Independence Day, an opportunity to look back at the filmmakers and actors honored on the Golden Globes stage over the years. Whether they won the coveted award or not, they brought national pride just by being nominated.


The trailblazing entertainer, who set the bar high for future worldwide talent from the Holy Land such as Wonder Woman star Gal Gadot, Topol was the first Israeli actor to win a Golden Globe – twice. In 1964, he won the award for Most Promising Newcomer – Male, for his lead role in the social satire Sallah, as an immigrant to the young state of Israel. Later in 1971, Topol won Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy for his seminal work as Tevye in Fiddler on The Roof, a role he himself estimated he played no less than 3,500 times, mainly on stage in various productions all over the world. Sadly, Topol passed away recently but left a tremendous legacy behind.

Ephraim Kishon

Directing Topol in Sallahi was groundbreaking filmmaker, author and screenwriter Ephraim Kishon, who also won his first Golden Globe for that film in 1964. The Hungarian-born Kishon, a holocaust survivor who immigrated to Israel at age 25, won his second Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film in 1971 for The Policeman, widely regarded as the most beloved Israeli film of all time. In between these wins, his 1969 comedy film The Big Dig was also nominated. “I got up to get on stage and suddenly, there was Alfred Hitchcock clapping his hands for me,” recalled Kishon, who passed away in 2005 at the age of 80.

Moshé Mizrahi

Another prolific Israeli director is Moshé Mizrahi, who moved away to France for his film studies, where he made his directorial debut with 1970’s co-production The Customer of the Off Season, nominated that year for a Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film. His next two films, I Love You Rosa and The House on Chelouche Street were nominated back-to-back for Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards in 1972 and 1973, finally winning on his third attempt in 1977 with Madame Rosa, albeit on behalf of France.

Menachem Golan

Going up against Mizrahi at the 1977 Academy Awards was famed Israeli director and producer Menachem Golan, who had two films nominated for a Golden Globe in the 1970s – musical Kazablan in 1973 and the cult coming-of-age comedy Going All the Way, directed by Boaz Davidson in 1978. The latter spawned a movie franchise locally with nine sequels and got an American remake in 1982 called The Last American Virgin, also directed by Davidson and produced by Golan and his cousin and business partner Yoram Globus. Around that time, the two cousins took over The Canon Group and produced a slew of action films during the 1980s, making the likes of Chuck Norris and Jean-Claude Van Damme household names.

Natalie Portman

A little-known fact about this Oscar and Golden Globe winner is that Portman was born in Jerusalem before moving to the U.S. when she was 4 years old. The Star Wars prequel trilogy actress returned to Israel in the early 2000s after completing her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Harvard and took graduate courses at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In 2015, she filmed her directorial feature debut A Tale of Love and Darkness in Israel, an adaptation of the bestselling memoir by renowned Israeli author Amos Oz. Portman’s first Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture came in 1999 for Anywhere But Here, winning five years later for 2004’s Closer and winning again in 2010, this time for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama in Darren Aronofsky‘s Black Swan. She was last nominated in 2016 for Jackie.

Ari Folman

Thirty years since its previous Golden Globe nomination for Best Foreign Language Film, Israel made its triumphant return to the ceremony in 2009 with acclaimed filmmaker Ari Folman winning the award for Waltz with Bashir, an innovative thought-provoking adult animated war documentary. The win signaled Israeli cinema’s renaissance with such films as The Band’s Visit, later adapted to a Tony-winning Broadway musical, and the Academy Award-nominated Beaufort, Ajami and Footnote, all bringing a new generation of local filmmakers to international success.

Gideon Raff

As the golden age of television rose in the 21st century, Israeli television began making its impact, first with HBO’s Golden Globe-nominated adaption of In Treatment and Showtime’s Homeland, adapted from Israeli drama series Prisoners of War created by Gideon Raff, who also worked on the American version alongside Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa. Homeland won the Golden Globe for Best Television Series – Drama in 2011 and 2012. Additionally, original In Treatment co-creator Hagai Levi shared a win in the same category in 2014 with screenwriter Sarah Treem for The Affair, which they created.

Ronit Elkabetz

Considered one of Israel’s most esteemed actresses ever over the course of her three decade-long career, Ronit Elkabetz got to shine at the Golden Globes thanks to the 2014 Best Foreign Language Film nominee Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem, the final chapter in a film trilogy in which she starred and co-directed with her brother Shlomi. Tragically, walking down the red carpet at the Beverly Hilton that year was one of her last public appearances, as a little over a year later she succumbed to her battle with cancer. Her cultural contribution long remains.

Shira Haas

At the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, this Israeli rising star managed to make her initial mark internationally as the star of the Netflix mini-series Unorthodox which got two Golden Globe nominations in 2020, for Best Miniseries or Television Film and Best Performance by an Actress in a Miniseries or Television Film for Haas’ portrayal of a young Jewish woman who runs away from the ultra-Orthodox community in Brooklyn to Berlin, trying to liberate herself. While Haas did not win that year, her career continues to grow as she was recently cast in Disney and Marvel Studios’ Captain America: New World Order, scheduled to be released in 2024.