Spielberg’s ‘Fabelmans’ leads crop of Jewy Oscar nominations

“The Fabelmans,” Steven Spielberg’s autobiographical drama about his Jewish upbringing, has earned an expected strong haul of Oscar nominations, picking up seven nods, the Academy announces.

A remake of a movie once targeted by the Nazis, a blockbuster embroiled in a lawsuit with an Israeli family and a documentary by the program director of the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival are also recognized in a list jam-packed with Jewish characters, stories and artists.

Spielberg’s movie overcomes an anemic box office showing to score nominations in the major categories of best picture, director and screenplay, for Spielberg and celebrated Jewish playwright and screenwriter Tony Kushner. The directing nomination brings Spielberg’s total nominations in the category to nine, tying him with Martin Scorsese for the second-most directing nominations in Oscar history.

Steven Spielberg poses in the press room with awards for best director of an motion picture and best motion picture drama for “The Fabelmans” at the 80th annual Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, January 10, 2023, (Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

The film also scored acting nods for Judd Hirsch, who is Jewish, and Michelle Williams, who recently said she is planning to raise her two children in the Jewish tradition.

“All Quiet On The Western Front,” Netflix’s new German-language adaptation of the classic 1929 novel about the horrors experienced by German soldiers during World War I, is also nominated for nine Oscars, including best picture, international feature and adapted screenplay. The film’s source material was once banned and burned by the ascending Nazi Party, which believed its anti-war stance made the German military look weak and constituted a threat to its plans for world domination.

“Top Gun: Maverick,” the action blockbuster sequel, picks up four nominations, including for best picture. The film’s distributor, Paramount, is currently embroiled in a copyright lawsuit with the family of Israeli journalist Ehud Yonay, whose magazine article about a Navy fighter pilot school was the basis for the original “Top Gun” in 1986. In November, a judge dismissed Paramount’s attempts to throw out the suit and ruled the Yonay family could proceed with the claims.

The writer, director and actress Sarah Polley gets a nod for best adapted screenplay for her drama “Women Talking,” about a group of abused women in an isolated Mennonite community, which was also nominated for best picture. Polley has a Jewish biological father, whose secret parentage she explored in her 2013 documentary “Stories We Tell.”

The Jewish film producer Gail Berman scores her first Oscar nomination for producing best picture nominee “Elvis,” while Jewish producing partners Darren Aronofsky and Ari Handel score their own best picture nomination for “The Whale.” The movie, which Aronofsky directed, stars Brendan Fraser (also nominated) as a morbidly obese English professor.

“All The Beauty And The Bloodshed,” a portrait of the outsider artist Nan Goldin and her years-long activism campaign against opioid manufacturers the Sackler family, is nominated in the best documentary feature category and is favored to win. The film documents how Goldin was born to Jewish parents but had an emotionally abusive family life and left home in her teens. The Sacklers are also Jewish.

The documentary short category saw the second nomination in a row for Jewish filmmaker Jay Rosenblatt, whose documentary “How Do You Measure A Year” chronicles many years of his daughter Ella’s birthdays. Rosenblatt is the program director of the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival.

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