Jewish filmmakers will be represented in strong numbers at February’s Academy Awards, the nominations for which were announced Thursday in Los Angeles.
Films featuring Jewish talent figured prominently in most of the major categories, with Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln” leading the way with 12 nods. In addition to the director himself, the biopic about the US president netted nominations for its half-Jewish leading man, Daniel Day-Lewis, and for its Jewish screenwriter, Tony Kushner.
Alan Arkin, who won an Oscar for supporting actor six years ago for “Little Miss Sunshine,” may win again in the same category, having been nominated this time for his role as a Hollywood insider in “Argo,” the Ben Affleck-directed thriller set during the Iran hostage crisis.
Competing against Day-Lewis in the best actor category will be another performer with a Jewish mother — Joaquin Phoenix, nominated for his work in the scientology-inspired drama “The Master.”
While most eyes will be on Spielberg among the nominated directors, “Beasts of the Southern Wild” filmmaker Benh Zeitlin is also likely to draw some attention — the 30-year-old, who’s Jewish on his father’s side, is among the youngest nominees ever in the category.
Among the potential best actress winners, Naomi Watts isn’t Jewish, but her date will be — actor Liev Schreiber, who accompanied the star of “The Impossible” to Israel for a family vacation in 2009, where they planted a tree for the Jewish National Fund. (The couple also attended the Israel Film Festival in New York in 2011.)
Mega-producers Harvey and Bob Weinstein also have reason to celebrate, with two of their company’s films — “Django Unchained” and “Silver Linings Playbook” — racking up a total of 13 nods, including one for each in the best picture field.
As we’ve noted elsewhere, it was a good year to make a film about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with two Israeli entries earning nominations among the five picks for best documentary.
One interesting absence: films about the Holocaust, a subject that comes up so often at the Oscars that it’s become something of an industry joke.