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Jewish Journal

Jewish con men shine in Oscar nominations

by  Tom Tugend

January 16, 2014 | 9:47 am

From left: Christian Bale in "American Hustle" and Leonardo DiCaprio in "The Wolf of Wall Street"

Thursday’s Oscar nominations proved to be a bonanza for Jewish con men, with “American Hustle” and “The Wolf of Wall Street” spotlighting the shenanigans of two members of the tribe unlikely to be feted at any Jewish Man of the Year banquet.

“American Hustle,” which co-led the field with 10 nominations (tied with “Gravity”), is based on the misdeeds of Irving Rosenfeld, principal figure in the FBI’s ABSCAM operation in the late 1970s and early ‘80s.

Running neck and neck in infamy is “The Wolf of Wall Street,” based on the memoirs of high-living Jewish stockbroker Jordan Belfort.

On the other hand, Woody Allen is up for best writer for his original screenplay for “Blue Jasmine,” although he missed out in the best picture and director categories.

Spike Jonze, who was born Adam Spiegel, thanks to his Jewish father, hit pay dirt with three nominations as, respectively, producer, writer (original screenplay) and composer of “The Moon Song,” all for his film “Her.”

Emmanuel Lubezki was nominated as cinematographer for “Gravity.”

The Academy’s foreign-language film competition included an interesting regional matchup between Israel’s “Bethlehem” and the ‘Palestine’-credited “Omar,” presenting different takes on the bloodier aspects of their conflict.

In this case, “Bethlehem” was eliminated earlier while “Omar” by director Hany Abu-Assad, a native and resident of Nazareth, became the first-time Palestinian entry to make it as a final five nominee.

Back to “American Hustle” and “The Wolf of Wall Street,” whose two very Jewishly portrayed lead characters are played by non-Jews Christian Bale (“Hustle”) and Leonardo DiCaprio (“Wolf”).
“Hustle” also earned nominations for director and co-writer David O. Russell, son of a Russian Jewish father and Italian Catholic mother.

Jewish actor-median Jonah Hill made the cut for best supporting actor for his role as second string con man Donnie Azoff in “Wolf.”

Among the disappointed Jews were mogul Harvey Weinstein, whose company produced the highly-touted “August: Osage County,” “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” and Lee Daniels’ The Butler,” all of which struck out in all categories.

However, as a consolation prize, a fourth Weinstein production “Philomena,” placed among the nine best picture nominations.

Left behind were the brothers Joel and Ethan Coen, whose critically acclaimed musical drama “Inside Llewyn Davis” failed to score.

Oscar trophies will be hoisted amidst emotional acceptance speeches on Sunday evening, March 2, in Hollywood.

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