There will be Jews at Oscar’s 80th
After some relatively lean years, Hollywood’s Jewish talent — as well as Israel’s — made a solid showing as nominations for the 80th Academy Awards were announced at 5:30 a.m. Tuesday.
The biggest winners were brothers Ethan and Joel Coen, whose thriller “No Country for Old Men” earned seven nominations, while Daniel Day-Lewis, son of British Jewish actress Jill Balcon, qualified in the best actor category.
Israel’s “Beaufort,” by Joseph Cedar, a gritty movie about the end of the first Lebanon War, was one of five international finalists as best foreign language film.
It is the first time since 1984 that an Israeli picture (“Beyond the Walls”) has made the final cut in the category, though the Oscar itself has eluded the country’s film industry so far.
Day-Lewis earned his nomination for his role as a tough oil prospector in “There Will Be Blood.” The picture itself topped the field with eight nominations.
The Coen brothers won four personal nominations for best film, director, adapted screenplay and editing (the last under the odd pseudonym Roderick Jaynes), out of a total of seven noms for “No Country for Old Men.” Scott Rudin shared in the producing credit.
Jewish creativity was especially noticeable in “Achievement in Directing.” Besides the two Coens, nominations went to the multitalented Julian Schnabel for “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” and to Jason Reitman for “Juno.”
Competing with “Beaufort” for the Oscar is Austria’s “The Counterfeiters,” about a group of Jews culled from concentration camps by the Nazis during World War II to swamp the British and American economies with counterfeit currency.
Also in contention are Poland’s “Katyn,” which dramatizes the massacre of some 20,000 Polish officers and intellectuals by the Soviets in 1940, as well as Kazakhstan’s “Mongol” and Russia’s “12.”
The songwriting team of Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz earned three out of the available five slots for their songs “So Close,” “That’s How You Know” and “Happy Working Song” for the Walt Disney film “Enchanted.”
British Jewish writer Ronald Harwood was nominated for his adapted screenplay for “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.”
Jewish names also popped up in a number of lesser categories.
Another Israeli film, “The Band’s Visit,” had been originally picked by the Israel Film Academy to represent the country for Oscar honors, but was disqualified by the American Academy because too much of the dialogue was in English.
The picture was subsequently entered by Sony Pictures, the distributor, in the general categories of best picture, director, screenplay, actor and actress, but predictably struck out.
The Academy Awards will be held Feb. 24, with producer Gil Cates and host Jon Stewart, both Jewish, at the helm.
However, due to the prolonged strike by the film and television writers, which Hollywood’s top actors are supporting, it is anybody’s guess whether the show will come off with the traditional glamour and razzle-dazzle.