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Two-and-a-half Jews spearhead Oscar nominations

by  Tom Tugend

January 10, 2013 | 8:43 am

An Oscar statue is seen at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences following the 85th Academy Awards nominee announcements in Beverly Hills, California on Jan. 10. REUTERS/Phil McCarten

Spearheaded by two-and-a-half Jews, “Lincoln” led the field with 12 Oscar nominations, announced Thursday (1/10) morning.

Nominated in their respective categories were Steven Spielberg as director, as well as co-producer (with Kathleen Kennedy), playwright Tony Kushner for best adapted screenplay, and Daniel Day-Lewis for best actor.

Day-Lewis is the half-Jew on the “Lincoln” team, with the actress Jill Balcon as his mother. His maternal grandparents, including grandfather Sir Michael Balcon, head of Ealing Studios, immigrated to Britain from Latvia and Poland.

“Lincoln,” which depicts the rough-and-tumble politics leading up to the emancipation of Negro slaves, is also in the running for best picture and (non-Jewish) supporting actors Sally Field and Tommy Lee Jones.

Rounding out the field of Jewish nominees is Mark Boal, up for his original screenplay “Zero Dark Thirty” on the hunt for Osama Bin Laden, while Benh (ok) Zeitlin, whose father is Jewish, is in competition as director of “Beasts of the Southern Wild.”

In addition, veteran actor Alan Arkin got a nod for his supporting role in “Argo,” and L.A. producer Amy Ziering joined the best documentary feature list for “The Invisible War,” which probes sexual assaults in the U.S. armed forces.

Israel, whose entries made the top five shortlists of best foreign-language films in four of the last five years, struck out this time with the impressive “Fill the Void,” an insider’s view of haredi (fervently Orthodox) life in Tel Aviv.   

Among the films submitted by 71 countries, five dealt with the Jewish fate during the Nazi era and its aftermath. Though none made the final-five shortlist, their themes indicate that the Holocaust theme still fascinates international filmmakers.

Two of the five nominated feature documentaries deal with Israel’s conflicts at home and abroad.

“The Gatekeepers,” by Israeli Dror Moreh, consists of lengthy, and surprisingly frank, interviews with six former heads of Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security agency, discussing the past, present and likely future of the tumultuous regional conflicts.

“5 Broken Cameras” examines the confrontation between Palestinian villagers and Israeli soldiers, with Emud Burnat, a Palestinian, and Guy Davidi, an Israeli, as co-directors.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Tom is a contributing editor for the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles and the West Coast correspondent for the Jerusalem Post in Israel, Jewish Chronicle in Britain, and...

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