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2012 Academy Awards: The Jewish nominees, angles and upsets

by Danielle Berrin

January 24, 2012 | 10:08 am

The 84th Annual Academy Award Nominations were announced this morning at 5:30am PST (and that’s just ungodly) so here’s a recap of the noms that matter to Hollywood Jew:

THE NOMINEES:

-Woody Allen leads the pack with three major nominations – Best Director, Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay—for “Midnight in Paris” his delightful homage to the Paris of evolving eras, about a bored Hollywood screenwriter who longs to live in 1920s Paris among its famed literati and artist set. I loved this movie, light, lovely and romantic and my movie companion that day made it even better. Is it “Annie Hall”? No. Nothing will ever be “Annie Hall.” But it’s Paris—and Hemingway!—so what’s not to love?

-Israel gets its 10th Best Foreign Language Film nomination for Joseph Cedar’s “Footnote” about competitive father/son Talmudic scholars in modern Israel. Cedar was last nominated, his first, for “Beaufort” in 2007, setting off a string of three consecutive Oscar nominations for Israel through 2009. When I saw the film at a screening last month, there was a representative from the Israeli Consulate there and her reaction at the end of the film had nothing to do with the film itself, but how it makes Israel look: “It’s the real Israel! There was nothing about the conflict—except for the military checkpoint in one scene.” And except for the fact that a story about Torah scholars doesn’t typically spend a lot of time on the battlefield, so if it’s the real Israel, it was also, it must be said, a limited vantage point. Let’s call it everyday Israel for Israelis. “Footnote” has some stiff competition, however, with Agnieszka Holland’s “In Darkness,” about the rescue of Jewish refugees in Nazi-occupied Poland and Iran’s much talked about “A Separation,” (included, because, when does Iran not have a Jewish angle?) about a married couple who grapple with a seemingly impossible decision about their family’s future also earning nominations in the category.

-Jonah Hill is nominated for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for playing Peter Brandt, the brains behind Billy Beane’s radical rethinking of baseball strategy in “Moneyball.” Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin also receive nominations for Adapted Screenplay. This was one of the first movies I saw this season and I found it surprising. There have been countless baseball movies in Hollywood history, they’re practically a genre, but this was so fresh, inventive and clever I found it riveting. And Pitt and Hill were so magical together I found myself hoping that they’d make another movie together. And lastly, Aaron Sorkin is so friggin brilliant, I have added spending a day inside his brain to my bucket list.

-Harvey Weinstein is having a very good year. Two years ago, everyone was writing him off, saying he was finished and now he’s back on top, referred to by Meryl Street at the Golden Globes as “God.” Now, if that’s true, it’s scary but at least there will be nice movie theatres in heaven. This year Weinstein championed “The Artist” a black and white silent film that was initially an unlikely contender, but which received ten nominations, in almost every major category including: Directing, Michel Hazanavicius; Actor, Jean Dujardin, Supporting Actress, Bérénice Bejo, Original Screenplay and Best Picture. Weinstein can also celebrate two other major nominations, with two of his leading ladies going head to head in the lead actress category: Michelle Williams earned a nod for her uncanny portrayal of Marilyn Monroe, her wiggles and woe in “My Week with Marilyn”  as did Meryl Streep for playing Great Britain’s first female Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher in “The Iron Lady.”

-“Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” produced by Scott Rudin (which I have not yet seen) and based on the bestselling novel by Jonathan Safran Foer (which I read) earned Max von Sydow a supporting actor nomination, as well as a nod for Best Picture. The previews hint at a film full of treacly pandering so I’m guessing this will be last resort must-see-before-the-Oscars film, even though the book was good enough for me.

-Steven Spielberg’s “War Horse,” the most painful movie experience of my year, is nominated for best picture, an honor he shares with longtime producing partner Kathleen Kennedy, who saw the Broadway play less than two years ago and set the movie version into motion. But despite technical perfection and Disney touchy-feelyness it was so insanely boring I left before the end. And thus beings our segue to…

THE UPSETS:

Starting with Spielberg, Steve Pond writes on TheWrap.com: “They shunned Steven Spielberg (no nomination for his animated film ‘The Adventures of Tintin,’ which won the Producers Guild Award three days ago), they loved Steven Spielberg (six nominations for ‘War Horse,’ tied for third among all films), and they shunned Steven Spielberg again (no director nomination).”

Albert Brooks, who was sensationally sadistic in “Drive” and recognized by the Golden Globes and the Independent Spirit Awards, wasted no time taking to Twitter to tweet his snub: “I got ROBBED. I don’t mean the Oscars, I mean literally. My pants and shoes have been stolen.” Then, he added: “And to the Academy: ‘You don’t like me. You really don’t like me.’”

Also absent from recognition was the movie “Shame,” one of the most interesting and discomfiting movies I’ve seen. Steve McQueen’s directing was stylistic and stellar and Michael Fassbender won me over in the opening scene. And not because of his acting.

THE FULL LIST:

Performance by an actor in a leading role

  * Demián Bichir in “A Better Life” (Summit Entertainment)
  * George Clooney in “The Descendants” (Fox Searchlight)
  * Jean Dujardin in “The Artist” (The Weinstein Company)
  * Gary Oldman in “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” (Focus Features)
  * Brad Pitt in “Moneyball” (Sony Pictures Releasing)

Performance by an actor in a supporting role

  * Kenneth Branagh in “My Week with Marilyn” (The Weinstein Company)
  * Jonah Hill in “Moneyball” (Sony Pictures Releasing)
  * Nick Nolte in “Warrior” (Lionsgate)
  * Christopher Plummer in “Beginners” (Focus Features)
  * Max von Sydow in “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” (Warner Bros.)

Performance by an actress in a leading role

  * Glenn Close in “Albert Nobbs” (Roadside Attractions)
  * Viola Davis in “The Help” (Touchstone)
  * Rooney Mara in “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” (Sony Pictures Releasing)
  * Meryl Streep in “The Iron Lady” (The Weinstein Company)
  * Michelle Williams in “My Week with Marilyn” (The Weinstein Company)

Performance by an actress in a supporting role

  * Bérénice Bejo in “The Artist” (The Weinstein Company)
  * Jessica Chastain in “The Help” (Touchstone)
  * Melissa McCarthy in “Bridesmaids” (Universal)
  * Janet McTeer in “Albert Nobbs” (Roadside Attractions)
  * Octavia Spencer in “The Help” (Touchstone)

Best animated feature film of the year

  * “A Cat in Paris” (GKIDS) Alain Gagnol and Jean-Loup Felicioli
  * “Chico & Rita” (GKIDS) Fernando Trueba and Javier Mariscal
  * “Kung Fu Panda 2” (DreamWorks Animation, Distributed by Paramount) Jennifer Yuh Nelson
  * “Puss in Boots” (DreamWorks Animation, Distributed by Paramount) Chris Miller
  * “Rango” (Paramount) Gore Verbinski

Achievement in art direction

  * “The Artist” (The Weinstein Company) Production Design: Laurence Bennett, Set Decoration: Robert Gould
  * “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2” (Warner Bros.) Production Design: Stuart Craig, Set Decoration: Stephenie McMillan
  * “Hugo” (Paramount) Production Design: Dante Ferretti, Set Decoration: Francesca Lo Schiavo
  * “Midnight in Paris” (Sony Pictures Classics) Production Design: Anne Seibel, Set Decoration: Hélène Dubreuil
  * “War Horse” (Touchstone) Production Design: Rick Carter, Set Decoration: Lee Sandales

Achievement in cinematography

  * “The Artist” (The Weinstein Company) Guillaume Schiffman
  * “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” (Sony Pictures Releasing) Jeff Cronenweth
  * “Hugo” (Paramount) Robert Richardson
  * “The Tree of Life” (Fox Searchlight) Emmanuel Lubezki
  * “War Horse” (Touchstone) Janusz Kaminski

Achievement in costume design

  * “Anonymous” (Sony Pictures Releasing) Lisy Christl
  * “The Artist” (The Weinstein Company) Mark Bridges
  * “Hugo” (Paramount) Sandy Powell
  * “Jane Eyre” (Focus Features) Michael O’Connor
  * “W.E.” (The Weinstein Company) Arianne Phillips

Achievement in directing

  * “The Artist” (The Weinstein Company) Michel Hazanavicius
  * “The Descendants” (Fox Searchlight) Alexander Payne
  * “Hugo” (Paramount) Martin Scorsese
  * “Midnight in Paris” (Sony Pictures Classics) Woody Allen
  * “The Tree of Life” (Fox Searchlight) Terrence Malick

Best documentary feature

  * “Hell and Back Again” (Docurama Films) A Roast Beef Limited Production, Danfung Dennis and Mike Lerner
  * “If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front” (Oscilloscope Laboratories) A Marshall Curry Production, Marshall Curry and Sam Cullman
  * “Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory” An @radical.media Production, Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky
  * “Pina” (Sundance Selects) A Neue Road Movies Production, Wim Wenders and Gian-Piero Ringel
  * “Undefeated” (The Weinstein Company) A Spitfire Pictures Production, TJ Martin, Dan Lindsay and Richard Middlemas

Best documentary short subject

  * “The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldier of the Civil Rights Movement” A Purposeful Production, Robin Fryday and Gail Dolgin
  * “God Is the Bigger Elvis” A Documentress Films Production, Rebecca Cammisa and Julie Anderson
  * “Incident in New Baghdad” A Morninglight Films Production, James Spione
  * “Saving Face” A Milkhaus/Jungefilm Production, Daniel Junge and Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy
  * “The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom” A Supply & Demand Integrated Production, Lucy Walker and Kira Carstensen

Achievement in film editing

  * “The Artist” (The Weinstein Company) Anne-Sophie Bion and Michel Hazanavicius
  * “The Descendants” (Fox Searchlight) Kevin Tent
  * “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” (Sony Pictures Releasing) Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall
  * “Hugo” (Paramount) Thelma Schoonmaker
  * “Moneyball” (Sony Pictures Releasing) Christopher Tellefsen

Best foreign language film of the year

  * “Bullhead” A Savage Film Production, Belgium
  * “Footnote” (Sony Pictures Classics) A Footnote Limited Partnership Production, Israel
  * “In Darkness” (Sony Pictures Classics) A Studio Filmowe Zebra Production, Poland
  * “Monsieur Lazhar” (Music Box Films) A micro_scope Production, Canada
  * “A Separation” (Sony Pictures Classics) A Dreamlab Films Production, Iran

Achievement in makeup

  * “Albert Nobbs” (Roadside Attractions) Martial Corneville, Lynn Johnston and Matthew W. Mungle
  * “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2” (Warner Bros.) Nick Dudman, Amanda Knight and Lisa Tomblin
  * “The Iron Lady” (The Weinstein Company) Mark Coulier and J. Roy Helland

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score)

  * “The Adventures of Tintin” (Paramount) John Williams
  * “The Artist” (The Weinstein Company) Ludovic Bource
  * “Hugo” (Paramount) Howard Shore
  * “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” (Focus Features) Alberto Iglesias
  * “War Horse” (Touchstone) John Williams

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song)

  * “Man or Muppet” from “The Muppets” (Walt Disney) Music and Lyric by Bret McKenzie
  * “Real in Rio” from “Rio” (20th Century Fox) Music by Sergio Mendes and Carlinhos Brown, Lyric by Siedah Garrett

Best motion picture of the year

  * “The Artist” (The Weinstein Company) A La Petite Reine/Studio 37/La Classe Américaine/JD Prod/France3 Cinéma/Jouror Productions/uFilm Production, Thomas Langmann, Producer
  * “The Descendants” (Fox Searchlight) An Ad Hominem Enterprises Production, Jim Burke, Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor, Producers
  * “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” (Warner Bros.) A Warner Bros. Pictures Production, Scott Rudin, Producer
  * “The Help” (Touchstone) A DreamWorks Pictures Production, Brunson Green, Chris Columbus and   Michael Barnathan, Producers
  * “Hugo” (Paramount) A Paramount Pictures and GK Films Production, Graham King and Martin Scorsese, Producers
  * “Midnight in Paris” (Sony Pictures Classics) A Pontchartrain Production, Letty Aronson and Stephen Tenenbaum, Producers
  * “Moneyball” (Sony Pictures Releasing) A Columbia Pictures Production, Michael De Luca, Rachael Horovitz and Brad Pitt, Producers
  * “The Tree of Life” (Fox Searchlight) A River Road Entertainment Production, Nominees to be determined
  * “War Horse” (Touchstone) A DreamWorks Pictures Production, Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy, Producers

Best animated short film

  * “Dimanche/Sunday” (National Film Board of Canada) A National Film Board of Canada Production, Patrick Doyon
  * “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore” A Moonbot Studios LA Production, William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg
  * “La Luna” (Walt Disney) A Pixar Animation Studios Production, Enrico Casarosa
  * “A Morning Stroll” (Studio AKA) A Studio AKA Production, Grant Orchard and Sue Goffe
  * “Wild Life” (National Film Board of Canada) A National Film Board of Canada Production, Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby

Best live action short film

  * “Pentecost” (Network Ireland Television) An EMU Production, Peter McDonald and Eimear O’Kane
  * “Raju” A Hamburg Media School/Filmwerkstatt Production, Max Zähle and Stefan Gieren
  * “The Shore” An All Ashore Production, Terry George and Oorlagh George
  * “Time Freak” A Team Toad Production, Andrew Bowler and Gigi Causey
  * “Tuba Atlantic” (Norsk Filminstitutt) A Norwegian Film School/Den Norske Filmskolen Production, Hallvar Witzø

Achievement in sound editing

  * “Drive” (FilmDistrict) Lon Bender and Victor Ray Ennis
  * “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” (Sony Pictures Releasing) Ren Klyce
  * “Hugo” (Paramount) Philip Stockton and Eugene Gearty
  * “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” (Paramount) Ethan Van der Ryn and Erik Aadahl
  * “War Horse” (Touchstone) Richard Hymns and Gary Rydstrom

Achievement in sound mixing

  * “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” (Sony Pictures Releasing) David Parker, Michael Semanick, Ren Klyce and Bo Persson
  * “Hugo” (Paramount) Tom Fleischman and John Midgley
  * “Moneyball” (Sony Pictures Releasing) Deb Adair, Ron Bochar, Dave Giammarco and Ed Novick
  * “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” (Paramount) Greg P. Russell, Gary Summers, Jeffrey J. Haboush and Peter J. Devlin
  * “War Horse” (Touchstone) Gary Rydstrom, Andy Nelson, Tom Johnson and Stuart Wilson

Achievement in visual effects

  * “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2” (Warner Bros.) Tim Burke, David Vickery, Greg Butler and John Richardson
  * “Hugo” (Paramount) Rob Legato, Joss Williams, Ben Grossman and Alex Henning
  * “Real Steel” (Touchstone) Erik Nash, John Rosengrant, Dan Taylor and Swen Gillberg
  * “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” (20th Century Fox) Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, R. Christopher White and Daniel Barrett
  * “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” (Paramount) Scott Farrar, Scott Benza, Matthew Butler and John Frazier

Adapted screenplay

  * “The Descendants” (Fox Searchlight) Screenplay by Alexander Payne and Nat Faxon & Jim Rash
  * “Hugo” (Paramount) Screenplay by John Logan
  * “The Ides of March” (Sony Pictures Releasing) Screenplay by George Clooney & Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon
  * “Moneyball” (Sony Pictures Releasing) Screenplay by Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin Story by Stan Chervin
  * “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” (Focus Features) Screenplay by Bridget O’Connor & Peter Straughan

Original screenplay

  * “The Artist” (The Weinstein Company) Written by Michel Hazanavicius
  * “Bridesmaids” (Universal) Written by Annie Mumolo & Kristen Wiig
  * “Margin Call” (Roadside Attractions) Written by J.C. Chandor
  * “Midnight in Paris” (Sony Pictures Classics) Written by Woody Allen
  * “A Separation” (Sony Pictures Classics) Written by Asghar Farhadi

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Danielle Berrin writes the Hollywood Jew blog, a cutting edge, values-based take on the entertainment industry for jewishjournal.com. A Los Angeles Times profile dubbed her...

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